Corporate cop still on the beat

18 August, 2017

The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australia’s financial system is a great opportunity to reinvigorate the financial system through competition, says Greg Medcraft.  

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft might be approaching the end of his tenure with the corporate watchdog, but he’s far from slowing down.

His term ends in November but it will be onward and upward for Medcraft, who is giving some thought to moving to Paris and seeking out a position with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Medcraft will be guest speaker at the CCI Lighthouse Leadership series at the Hyatt Regency on August 31.

His proudest achievement since taking up the post in 2011 is the recently-implemented industry funding model that will see ASIC’s regulatory costs recovered through annual levies from industry sectors that fall under ASIC’s watch.

“It is an important milestone for ASIC and the sectors we regulate,” Medcraft says.

“I am also proud of the work we have done in positioning ASIC as a strong enforcement agency—our enforcement record speaks for itself.

“I am also pleased that we have made significant progress in bringing all the parts of ASIC together under our 'One ASIC' regulatory transformation, ensuring that we better connect the dots and we have the right technology and tools to meet our future challenges.”

Medcraft says the current Productivity Commission’s inquiry into competition in Australia’s financial system is a great opportunity to reinvigorate the financial system through competition. 

“The financial system is the engine of our economy and effective competition fuels it,” he says.

“However, I think it is important to recognise that there is no one quick fix in addressing competition concerns in the financial system.

“I think both the supply and demand sides of competition need to be considered carefully.  There are a range of factors that affect competition dynamics and the landscape is constantly changing, particularly the impact of digital.

“I believe that there should be mechanisms for ongoing monitoring of competition issues in the financial system.  From that perspective, I look forward to ASIC's getting the competition mandate recommended by the Murray Inquiry.”     

Medcraft says he’s looking forward to talking to Perth business leaders about his time at ASIC, as well as how financial services and markets have changed through the impact of technology and globalisation.

He recalls living in Perth for three months in 1981 and getting to know the Kailis family—who opened the first Red Rooster store in Perth in 1972—and then sold the business to Myer Emporium.

“I worked for KPMG and did the acquisition order when Myers Emporium bought Red Rooster about 40 years ago. I got to know the Kailis family and could never eat Red Rooster chicken ever again.

“I learnt a lot about the whole takeaway food business. It was quite good as I’d studied economic geography at university, so it actually put it into reality. We learnt at uni the best place to locate was next to your competitor, which is actually what Red Rooster did with its site selection. If McDonald’s was there, they’d go there.”

Medcraft’s top five leadership tips for aspiring leaders

  1. Long term strategy: Look ahead at what might be coming your way. It’s too easy for a leader to be blindsided by something unexpected if they aren't continually alert to how their environment is changing and what the impact on their business might be
  2. Communication and transparency: I think that communication and transparent leadership is the key to fostering a culture of trust. Staff who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are more motivated and inspired by their work
  3. Effective teamwork: Leadership relies on effective teamwork. You can’t micro-manage your team—it’s about trust. I set the framework and let my people manage in their own personal style
  4. Character:
    1. Be resilient—resilience is important to a leader. You need to be able to bounce back from challenges, and even from failure. Learn and move on from your mistakes
    2. Be creative and open minded—you can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Be open to change. Think about continual improvement
    3. Be courageous—leadership is about having the courage to call things out that are wrong. I've done this with Contracts for Difference, hybrids and the bank bill swap rate litigation. It can be lonely but it needs to be done
    4. Focus on simplicity—sometimes the simple answers are superior to complexity
  1. Be proactive and forward looking: In this time of uncertainty, leadership is all about having a long-term strategic view and vision. When I came to ASIC, one of the first things I did was set up the Emerging Risk Committee, which is a group of ASIC leaders that consider the big risks coming our way

►Hear more leadership insights from Greg Medcraft at CCI’s next Lighthouse Leadership Series – get your tickets here.