Playboy bunnies figure no more

Mortgage brokers work for all kinds of incentives. Money. Bonuses. Even trips to the Playboy Mansion.

Mortgage brokers work for all kinds of incentives. Money. Bonuses. Even trips to the Playboy Mansion.

Last week, Australian Finance Group took more than 100 of its top brokers from around the country on a five-day trip to the US. It's an annual trip sponsored by top industry companies including the big banks, rewarding the gun performers.

While the visit included such eventful activities as a cycling tour and conferencing sessions, it was suggestions of "a charity function at the Playboy Mansion" in an industry newsletter that piqued our interest.

After all, apart from a keen interest in vital statistics, we were unclear of synergies between Hugh Hefner's house of flesh and the mortgage broking industry.

The AFG managing director, Brett McKeon, was quick to insist it was all a terrible misunderstanding. You see, the event was a pre-organised shindig, not one set up by his organisation. And it was a charity event. One supporting anti-smoking, no less.

McKeon assures us there were as many female as male brokers in attendance and none declined the invitation or were offended by the visit. He felt it worthwhile to point out none of the major banks that benefit from AFG's mortgage broking activities were in attendance.

And he was also keen to stress the trip to the Playboy Mansion was paid for by AFG and not the banks. His sheepishness may have something to do with the fact that the big banks sponsor the overseas trip and may not like being associated with a Playboy Mansion visit.

Did everyone at least get to hang out with some Playboy bunnies?

"I didn't see anyone running around naked," McKeon assured us.

Why choose to attend? "We thought it's an iconic part of Hollywood, it's a charity function and give our members an opportunity to attend the mansion.

"We won't be doing it again. Next year's trip will be a bit more sedentary."

We've had a bit of blowback, he added.

Gonski's gig

David Gonski has had many and varied roles in his well-connected career.

A chairman's hat here, an advisory role there.

But we're pleased to see his latest role as executive head hunter adding a touch of diversity to his resume. Particularly when he can play find and seek without moving from in front of the mirror.

Gonski helped the Gillard government search long and hard to find a new head of the Future Fund, sounding out directors for their preference, before miraculously finding the new man's smiling visage in the bathroom mirror.

So we were taken by the announcement Gonski has taken the gig to advise the NSW government to find a new boss for Sydney's much-loved railway system.

Pleasingly, there are two CEO roles to be filled.

We would never suggest the svelte Gonski would ever qualify as the Fat Controller.

Given Gonski's eponymous review of the education sector has been finalised, we're certain there's plenty of room in his diary to head both the Future Fund and drive the 6.15am City Circle service to the CBD.

Toll slips up

Counting large numbers is a tricky business. Particularly when one is forced to resort to using a second hand.

So imagine the distress felt by senior executives at Toll Holdings last week when the company's full-year report came out detailing their salaries only for the poor chaps to find a series of rather unfamiliar numbers in the report.

Yesterday Toll was forced to amend the rather keenly observed remuneration table for its top executives, 'fessing to a few errors.

Surely, the former managing director Paul Little hadn't cross-checked the payslips and figured he'd been short changed? Alas, no. Turns out problems emerged between "incorrect allocation" between cash salary and non-monetary pay for some executives.

So while the market was told last week Little took home $1.2 million in cash salary last year, his payslip showed a slightly lower number. Pleasingly though, there were some other benefits that ensured the total numbers remained unchanged at $6.4 million.

Similar slip-ups were recorded in the pay disclosure of most of Toll's top ten executives.

Westpac super sub

The Westpac heir apparent Brian Hartzer has secured the services of Melanie Evans to be his chief of staff, after the former BT superannuation manager's role was made redundant in a reshuffle last week.

Brad Cooper, the chief of the Westpac-owned BT, performed some managerial musical chairs, which left the highly regarded Evans on the outer.

Hartzer, the new Australian financial services head, has appointed Evans to a gatekeeper role, similar to the structure of the CEO Gail Kelly's office that will see Evans well positioned should Hartzer one day assume the top job.

Balmain attraction

Just another Mad Monday celebration in the big city. Spotted on the wharves outside CBD's Sydney hustings, colourfully dressed players from rugby league's Balmain Tigers boarding an All Occasions Cruises dinghy. At least they were contained on a boat, we hear you cry. And clothed.

Of greater interest to your diarist, the Balmain legend Benny Elias is in all sorts of bother trying to develop the old Balmain Leagues Club site on Victoria Road while his bro Joe Elias runs All Occasions Cruises which was awarded the Blackwattle Bay development under Joe Tripodi's stewardship. You win some, you lose some.

mevans@smh.com.au

Twitter: @mevanssmh

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