New man at the MBS helm

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Scott Matthews was recently appointed Master Build Services General Manager. Building Today caught up with him to find out more . . .


 

I joined Registered Master Builders on October 2, 2017 as General Manager on the guarantee side of the business, so I’m still relatively new and learning lots every day.

The first month has been challenging (whilst I get up to speed and learn more about the business) but fantastic.

There’s a great culture, I’m working with smart, committed people, and there is a real focus on supporting members grow their businesses, whilst promoting the interests of members.

Having spent the past seven-plus years of my career with a New Zealand member business, I was keen for a challenge in a similar organisation.

Whilst the RMBA is proudly more than 100 years old, it is even more relevant in today’s changing environment. The guarantee product has been providing valuable piece of mind to home owners for more than 25 years, and I feel privileged to lead this side of the business.

I also wanted a role where I could continue my education and continue to learn new skills, so was particularly excited to work with RMBA chief executive David Kelly and the Guarantee Board.

They all have a wealth of experience. and you don’t often get a chance to work with people of that calibre.

 

What is your priority going forward for Master Build Services?

I have four main priorities over the short-to-medium term: 

To review the guarantee product to ensure it is still the benchmark product in New Zealand construction, providing value to our members and confidence to consumers whilst further strengthening the Master Builders brand.

Looking at enhancing the guarantee web site to ensure it is fit for purpose, truly reflects our values and history, and it truly engages members and customers in an informative and structured manner.

Developing and launching online services to allow builders to view guarantees relating to their customers, and potentially lodge guarantees electronically in the future.

Finally, and most importantly, to visit and truly engage with the membership, by getting out to meet members whenever possible.

 

Are there any major changes you’d like to implement regarding the Guarantee?

Given that it’s been a little while since the last review, I think it’s good to ensure we are providing the very best possible product to our members.

I have already developed some thoughts and ideas around the guarantee and, whilst in the initial stages, it’s safe to say that we will be making some significant changes and enhancements early next year.

I also want to focus on making it easier to lodge and review guarantees, so will be looking to develop digital solutions for the member initially and, potentially, the home owner, to view their guarantee online.

The recent Government change could once again raise the issue of compulsory guarantees, as this has been adopted in other parts of the world.

Whilst the wording and guarantee documents are good, I believe that we can be better, so will be looking to continue the great work we have started in making all our documentation informative, logical and easy to understand.

I also want to ensure that every time a member or home owner talks to us, they receive the very best customer experience possible. Therefore, we will continue to invest in training and technology to ensure we keep that promise.

 

There are other building guarantees in the New Zealand marketplace now competing with the 10-year Master Build Guarantee. What makes the RMBA’s product stand out amongst the competition?

The market is ever changing but competition is always good as it causes us to question what we offer and ensure that we are still relevant and providing value.

I believe that our 100-plus years as a member organisation and 25-plus years of claims experience is invaluable and unique in the marketplace, giving us important data and insights.

I also believe we are fundamentally different, in that we exist to protect the home owner only if a member is unable to support a claim — I strongly believe this produces better outcomes for home owners.

It’s about doing what’s right, paying claims, and looking after the home owner if things haven’t gone to plan.

We have an independent board of experts from the industry who lead and provide governance to the business, independent actuaries,  healthy cash reserves to meet any future claims, and we file annual reports to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

 

Can you outline your previous employment positions within and outside the construction industry?

During my 20-plus years in financial services I have long been heavily involved with mortgage lending and, as such, have dealt with the new build segment of the industry on several occasions.

Whilst my actual construction experience is limited to a month working for a relative’s business, I believe that all businesses are based on the same essential foundations — honesty, integrity, relationships and strong products.

 

What interests/hobbies do you have away from the workplace?

Having left the UK 13 years ago to move to New Zealand, I have spent the past eight years living in the awesome Wairarapa, where I purchased land and was lucky enough to have Paul Southey Construction build our home.

When not at work, commuting or being a taxi to my 13-year-old daughter and and nine-year-old son, the Wairarapa is an amazing playground, and I can often be found tramping, at a winery, or planting that “last” tree for my wife.