Equifax ANZ CEO Melanie Cochrane: The Digital Leader Fighting for Financial Literacy and Inclusion

Giulia Sirignani
on 6 December 2022

Extolling the virtues of financial literacy while leading a company that plays a central role in the Australian economy, Melanie Cochrane, CEO and Group Managing Director of Equifax (Aust/NZ) speaks to Finance Editor Gemma Acton in the latest series of Game Changers.

Melanie Cochrane’s work aligns perfectly with her personal values to foster diversity, inclusivity and equality. She’s passionate about empowering people to understand personal finance and the services that are available to every Australian.

Game Changers host Gemma Acton interviews Melanie Cochrane, CEO and Group Managing Director of Equifax ANZ.

“I’m dedicated to financial literacy,” says Melanie Cochrane, CEO and Group Managing Director of Equifax ANZ. “That means giving access to financial services to everyone. It’s about having the knowledge and freedom to make the choices that lead you to the paths you want to take in life. Everything from understanding what’s needed to prepare for buying your first home, to helping migrants in Australia to build a prosperous future through comprehending and accessing financial products. That’s what we mean by financial inclusion.

“There are so many financial choices people need to make as we build our lives, it can be overwhelming. We strive to give people access and transparency so they can make better decisions and create great habits. By doing this, we can help make sure no-one is excluded from the journey,” adds Melanie.

Melanie Cochrane
Melanie Cochrane, Equifax ANZ MD. Pic credit: Andrea Francolini

After a long and rewarding career at American Express in the UK, US and Australia, and a stint in advisory; the data, analytics and technology giant Equifax came knocking with an opportunity to lead the company in the region.

“The rate and pace of change in data analytics is simply incredible,” says Melanie. “I am not a data scientist and not a technician, but I am fascinated and motivated by the things we are able to do for our customers while enabling greater access.

Melanie is also a determined leader in the digital space to better educate people about the growing problem of cyber-crime and identity theft, and how they can protect themselves. 

“Cyber-crime is becoming more and more sophisticated; with the controls and the focus we need on cyber security continuing to increase. There’s a range of things that we must consider, especially as consumers, in protecting our own identity. I often hear customers, consumers and even neighbours complaining about data breaches and not knowing what to do and who to turn to. So, we’re trying to educate people on how they can protect their identity.

“From an industry perspective, we all have to work together. It’s about collaboration, communication, and transparency to make sure that we all fight this fight together for the good of Australian businesses and consumers. We also need to work hand in hand with government to create a coordinated approach to protect Australians from cyber criminals.

“We are proud to be able to play a leading role in such important initiatives, which will untimely help people live their financial best,” says Melanie.  

Melanie Cochrane
Equifax data shows the number of mortgage accounts requiring assistance today is double what it was Pre-Covid. As Melanie Cochrane explained in her recent speech for The Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) Credit Summit, this is down to a combination of factors including financial literacy – or lack of it – to the impact of Covid and a rapidly changing economy. Put simply, people are experiencing rising unsecured debt, a shift away from savings, changing mortgage demand, and delinquency is on the rise.

Melanie is presiding over Equifax’s own digital transformation as it redesigns its technology platform and transfers to the cloud, to create a cloud native environment with industry-leading security. It’s a massive operation which will see the company propel innovative solutions and services into the future.

“Our transformation will help us to bring together more data and enable our customers to make better decisions faster. This, along with our focus on data security, will give consumers, businesses and financial institutions the insights they need to make the best decisions possible, enabling greater access,” adds Melanie.

More About Financial Inclusion from the female-led Equifax executive team and why it really matters

Check out our interview with Melanie Cochrane on Game Changers below:


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