Commercial clients: finding them and what they want

We’ve asked majors, non-majors and specialists on how to find commercial clients and what services SMEs are looking for. 

Q: How can a residential broker reach commercial clients?
Suncorp 
Australia is home to more than two million small businesses. This market accounts for 96% of the country’s business sector, creates 4.5 million jobs and contributes more than $330bn annually to Australia’s economic output … Approximately 30% of our home loans are for self-employed borrowers, which highlights the opportunity for our broker partner to cross-sell. 

Liberty Financial 
Residential brokers have a wealth of data to help them establish relationships with prospective commercial clients. The first port of call is to go through existing databases and identify self-employed workers. If the client rents their business premises, it is worth asking if they are considering buying commercial property, or if they need help with vehicle finance or accessing funds for business … Many brokers don’t realise their local community is also a great source for finding new clients, as is fi ltering LinkedIn connections by area. 

ANZ 
Residential brokers are already servicing a considerable number of self-employed clients. Our simple message for mortgage brokers is this:  if you are not talking to your clients about their commercial needs, then someone else is. At ANZ we off er a number of commercial broker finance accreditations, starting from a simple spotter (name and number only) accreditation through to a full commercial broker accreditation. 

La Trobe Financial
In terms of lead generation, a finance broker’s existing database should be their fi rst port of call. This involves mining their CRM to identify clients that already hold commercial property to see if there is an opportunity to refinance it for them, particularly where they have held the property for some time. We often see untapped equity sitting in a customer’s A&L statement tied to commercial property. For new clients, we suggest contacting your network of accountants, financial planners and real estate agents for leads in this space, or try your aggregator or other successful brokers for their ideas on how to get involved.

Thinktank
Residential brokers with self-employed clients are already in the frame to start writing commercial business … All the aggregators we work with have continued to develop and refine their grassroots commercial support programs which are specifically geared to assist brokers to identify, attract, cultivate and convert commercial opportunities. As a lender, we provide dedicated training sessions and workshops throughout the year.

ING DIRECT
All brokers will have customers in their portfolios who are either business owners themselves or who know business owners. Every business customer will know an accountant, a fi nancial planner, a solicitor, and other business customers in the supply chain. 

NAB Broker
If we consider that brokers are responsible for 53% of mortgages across Australia, it’s fair to assume that a large percentage of these customers own and run their own businesses.  To tap into this market, residential brokers need to expand their conversations … Many brokers are business owners themselves, so there is a natural level of understanding and alignment … Residential brokers can also reach out to their BDMs for tailored advice on how to reach commercial clients. 

Q: What services would an average SME client typically require? 
Liberty Financial
There are so many reasons small businesses seek additional funds that it’s hard to describe an average client. From a cleaning business looking to fund its next business expansion, to solving cash flow issues or helping self-employed workers purchase a new vehicle, the needs of a small business are varied. That’s why brokers value lenders like Liberty, because we can help them provide finance to a much broader client base. 

Thinktank
The self-employed and SME sector offers great variety and, in turn, great opportunity. Their needs can range from a simple residential or commercial property loan to a much wider array of lending products spanning cash flow, short-term, long-term, trade facilities, and acquisition or business expansion funding. The average client … will often tend to span multiple property loans, lines of flexible credit, personal finance, insurances and wealth management that now more often than not includes a self-managed superannuation fund. 

ING DIRECT
A broker is vital to customer experience as they will work to simplify the overall finance process by acting as the dedicated intermediary,  putting more time back in the customer’s day and allowing the customer to focus on other issues and opportunities at hand in their business.  

NAB Broker
Generally speaking, SME customers require working capital facilities like overdrafts and invoice financing. They also typically require term lending and transactional services, including bank accounts, credit cards and online banking facilities. We would always say, however, that servicing an SME client should really start with a conversation. 

ANZ
We find that SMEs have a wide range of financial needs, from the set-up required to run the day-to-day, such as trading accounts, commercial cards and merchant terminals, through to funding solutions to support both set-up and growth. These types of funding needs may be met with simpler lending products such as overdrafts, term loans and equipment finance, through to more complex solutions such as working capital and trade services … ANZ has pledged $2bn in lending to start-ups and is currently offering discounted banking packages along with a way to set up a business online in just one day.

La Trobe Financial 
SME clients will typically be looking to purchase premises from which to operate their businesses, or they may already own their business premises and may be looking to refinance in order to consolidate accumulated business debt. This may even include outstanding taxation obligations.

In addition to this, SMEs often require equipment finance and leasing solutions, so there are plenty of cross-sell opportunities for finance brokers.  This is why commercial lending can be such an attractive proposition.

Suncorp
It’s about understanding their financials, business cycles and what is important to them. At Suncorp Bank we are aiming to bridge that gap and make it as streamlined as possible. SME customers are faced with unique challenges and opportunities, and it is important for a broker to understand their customers’ long-term goals and represent them appropriately throughout the loan application process. 

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