What it takes to be part of Australia's Top 10 Brokerages
The past year has seen brokers fight against changing credit policies, the threat of losing commissions and falling borrower numbers. Two Loan Market businesses have overcome all that with an increased focus on the customer experience, diversification and a commitment to training and education. Daniel Green from Green Finance Group and Nick Gurry from Loan Market - One Network Broking have been named in Mortgage Professional Australia’s Top 10 Brokerages from 2019. Here's how they did it.
Q: You run a high performing business, what is your team structure like?
Daniel Green: Our team is made up of 4 brokers and myself specialising in commercial and one broker specialising in residential loans. We all have our own industry specialties from property development and commercial finance to franchise and small business to pubs, hospitality and childcare, even health, beauty and wellbeing. There isn't a commercial deal we can't do but it is a pre-requisite for brokers who join us to either have an existing industry-specific lending speciality or be prepared to develop one. This strategy has worked well for us to date and we've developed a reputation as the 'go-to' finance firm in a number of niche industries. We also have a specialist resi broker to ensure the full finance offering for our clients.
The team is made up of ex-bankers and we all work well together, sharing knowledge and providing internal referrals where possible. Together we've developed an extensive network of industry contacts and our referral networks, specific to our industry specialities, are broad.
Nick Gurry: Our business fundamentally operates in the residential mortgage space - we deliberately specialise in this. We currently have 11 brokers at varied stages of their career, with an additional 6 support staff known as the Customer Experience Department. This year we have taken training and development up a notch. We run internal training sessions fortnightly, with a quarterly theme in which we do check ins and hold all brokers and support staff accountable for. I am particularly proud of the learning and growth culture of the team.
Q: How do you ensure all clients receive 5-star service?
Daniel Green: It's pretty simple - I treat people the way I'd like to be treated. I have a reputation for working hard and being available 24/7 and to an extent it's true. I do pride myself on being available whenever clients need but I'm also good at planning out my year which means a balanced approach. You can't put in 110% without a recharge so holidays are scheduled in advance and I'm lucky, I have a great team so I know I can rely on them in my absence and vice versa. We also place a big emphasis on the importance of high quality submissions...getting it right the first time. Reworks are usually a result of poor planning or a lack of knowledge and they can be a big time-waster for clients so constantly developing our lending and product knowledge and being dedicated to detail are always on the agenda.
Nick Gurry: Our team is very linear and heavily focused on customer experience. We like to call our relationship with our customers "professionally intimate", with a focus on strong communication; with all brokers and support staff on the same page.
Q: What business challenges have you faced over the last year?
Daniel Green: Increased regulation and fluctuating bank policy have resulted in additional documentation requirements and lengthier processing timeframes. There's been a real lack of certainty around deal placement, even within lending institutions, but confidence and consistency is gradually coming back.
Nick Gurry: The industry has faced challenges as a whole with changes to lending and policy. We've been quick in understanding how to get better and adapt. As for the business - broker recruitment is a challenge I'm beginning to enjoy. Our business model is quite unique in that we offer more than just commission splits; we provide training, mentoring and real opportunities for career growth.
Q: How have you worked to overcome those challenges?
Daniel Green: More than anything we've had to work harder to educate clients on the need to get us involved even earlier, and then of course set turnaround expectations straight up. Maintaining close relationships with lenders is also big for us, we need to be on top of lending policy updates daily, it's a non-negotiable in this space.
Nick Gurry: Throughout the uncertainty of the Royal Commission, Loan Market has been fantastic in their communication, creating initiatives for client engagement and technology to keep up with the new demands of stricter policy. Our team's strong lender partnerships have also aided in helping customers navigate through turnaround times and policy changes.
Q: What are you focusing on in your business in the next year?
Daniel Green: Over the last few years I have established relationships with some of the country’s largest commercial real estate businesses and my team are working with a large franchise network of commercial operators to provide specialised brokerage services to a range of SME clients. It's a big undertaking that's grown over time so recruitment is also on the agenda as we'll be looking to add additional commercial and residential brokers to service both Queensland and interstate franchisee partners.
Nick Gurry: Growth in numbers - this calendar year we plan on hitting $250m mark. We're also keen to recruit more brokers, hitting the 15 broker milestone and further accelerate our training program.