1. 1st Street

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Towering above the rest in terms of total loan book size, and with the highest average value of settlements per broker, 1st Street is “honoured” to be this year’s top brokerage, says managing director Jeremy Fisher.

“Having worked in this amazing industry for over 18 years, we feel incredibly proud to be recognised for our achievements amongst many other worthy candidates,” he says.

Beginning as a one-man band in Sydney’s Rose Bay, the brokerage now consists of a team of 20 spread out across NSW, Queensland and Victoria. With a focus on a high level of customer service, 1st Street has a high retention rate, and the majority of its new business comes from existing client referrals and business partnerships.

Knowing that a diversified business was important in ensuring that as many of its clients’ financial needs as possible could be met in-house, the brokerage expanded its services to include commercial lending, asset finance and financial planning. It is this focus on the client that Fisher believes is the secret to 1st Street’s success.

“Our focus has never been on the size of the loan book,” he says. “Each and every broker consistently ensures that our clients have a smooth, educational and positive experience. As a result, our satisfied clients are our best referrers. Based on this model, our business will continue to grow as the number of clients we deal with year-on-year increases.”

On top of its hefty loan book size, 1st Street also had the highest conversion rate this year, at 99%. Fisher says this is thanks to ensuring that the brokers who join its team are experienced, knowledgeable and client-focused.

Having a number of veteran brokers on staff means the team is well equipped to work on a range of deals, from the most simple to the most complex.

“As a result of the extensive experience the team has, our loan submissions to lenders are of the highest standard each and every time,” Fisher says.

He puts these impressive results over the past 12 months down to a change in direction and a refined focus last year. The brokerage altered its processes to take a consistent approach to customer dealings from start to finish. 1st Street has also shifted its attention to focusing on existing clients; Fisher says they are the most valuable asset of the business.

“We recognise that our biggest source of business comes from existing clients, and therefore we have invested our time and e‑ orts into this space,” he says.

1st Street was prepared for the COVID-19 environment, having invested substantial time two years ago in enabling the team to work remotely from its interstate office locations. Wanting to maintain the high level of communication that working in an office encouraged, they began daily Zoom meetings at which brokers could openly discuss deals or ask questions.

Fisher says it has accepted that new business will be down on last year. But 1st Street’s brokers have adapted to make sure they are available at all times, as many clients need extra time spent on maintenance of their loans, whether that involves a mortgage pause, an interest rate review or refinancing. The brokerage has also increased its communication with clients regarding updates and changes, using video messaging to address commonly asked questions.

“In a time that has been quite stressful for many clients, our brokers have made sure they go above and beyond to make sure clients feel secure and well informed,” Fisher says.

Total loan book: $5,807,097,500
Total settlements, 1 March 2019 – 29 February 2020: $892,542,128
Number of loan writers: 12
Avg. annual volume/broker: $74,378,510
Conversion rate: 99%