4. Keylend

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More than just a team, Keylend is a family, says CEO Chris Burns. This attitude goes some way towards explaining the brokerage’s low attrition rate.

With a strong culture that prioritises finding the best possible outcomes for clients, Keylend’s brokers work together rather than in competition.

Burns says he is humbled and honoured that the brokerage is featured in this year’s Top 10.

“Especially from a South Australian perspective, it’s great to stand on the national stage amongst the country’s best,” he says.

In business for the past 21 years, the brokerage has remained successful by staying ahead of the game. For instance, the average age of its brokers five years ago was 51, but it embarked on a strategy to lower the age to expand its potential.

“A lot of our local competitors have kept the same business model since inception, but markets change, people change, behaviours change, so the mindset to keep everything the same has proven to be commercial suicide,” he says.

On top of its defined strategy and adaptability, Burns says Keylend’s success over the past 12 months can be attributed to its broker staff.

“We have 23 different cultures within the business, which creates great value and choice for our customers,” he adds. “We work as a team and are very careful when recruiting to ensure they fi t into our culture.”

While Burns admits it has been a challenge to adjust to the new environment, he believes Keylend has come out of it “stronger and smarter than ever”. A number of changes were made early on in the COVID-19 crisis in order to maintain metrics like profitability and the business’s balance sheet. It also discovered new ways to interact with clients.

Looking outside of the pandemic, the best interests duty is another challenge Keylend is preparing for. Burns says it is a great idea in theory, but he questions what the reality will look like.

“How will it limit the mindset of the elder brokers who have witnessed dramatic change over the past few years? It is most definitely a step in the right direction, but lenders and brokers need to be united in its delivery,” he says.

In developing a strategy, Burns says brokerages should be looking at their competitors and learning from them.

“Some are highly successful. Why? They have a strategy, direction and the means to execute. They also have contingency plans when things go wrong,” he says. “Some are treading water waiting for a way out. Why? No strategy or direction of execution plans.”

His last piece of advice to other brokerages is to “invest in your culture”.

“Your people are your most important asset,” Burns says.

Total loan book: $2,951,219,418
Total settlements, 1 March 2019 – 29 February 2020: $608,852,947
Number of loan writers: 75
Avg. annual volume/broker: $8,118,039
Conversion rate: 79%