Throughout his long career in the finance industry, Bernie Francese has seen various changes to lender policy and an influx of competition in the marketplace.
MPA spoke with the Melbourne broker about the importance of education and why structural changes can make all the difference when it comes to assisting wealth building clients.
Helping everyday Aussies with finance
Francese started out as a broker about 16 years ago after his wife encouraged him to move into the role.
“I had motivation around helping everyday Australians have a better understanding,” he says.
“I felt back in those days it was going to be the sort of space that was going to expand.”
He says becoming a broker created other opportunities that have been key to his career journey.
“That entry in brokerage got me into the financial services industry dealing with various different companies and, more importantly, the investment industry, which was one of my keen appetites.”
About seven months ago he was made national manager of Investloan, the finance arm of Custodian, after being with the company for three and a half years.
The revolving door of policy
Francese says that his time as a broker has been an educational process in light of the ever-changing world of lender policy.
“The policy changes are fairly consistent now, especially since the Royal Commission,” he says.
But the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 as well as lenders offering the lowest interest rates in history adds to the challenge of keeping up to date with “the revolving door that we deal with.”
“You’ve just got to keep yourself well and truly informed.”
A more competitive market has also meant the onus is on brokers to educate their clients about the range of options on offer.
“You’ve got to keep your mind ticking along to exhaust all resources,” Francese says.
“Another thing that has become more evident is the amount of lenders that’ve come on the market. It’s far more competitive these days.
“That’s probably been the bigger challenge, not so much for me as a broker but, educating everyday Australians to think away from just dealing with the major lenders.”
Why brokers play a pivotal role in the finance industry
As someone who finances wealth-building clients, Francese says the most memorable lending scenarios for him have been the customers who were willing to make the right changes in order to better their positions.
“The greater wins were those clients that were prepared to make those structural changes and change their daily spending habits,” he says.
“It’s really minimising those bad debt components where a lot of cashflow goes out the door.”
One of his clients in particular had wanted to invest for some time but had never been able to gain finance.
“They were able to make structural changes and were prepared to reduce credit card limits by $20,000-$30,000, close off a personal loan and debt consolidate,” he says.
“They were able to then go and build a wealth portfolio by making those structural changes.
“As this whole industry has changed and evolved rapidly, we’ve had to think differently to make sure that we give our prospects every possible chance.”
Francese says this puts brokers in a critical position to assist their clients.
“No disrespect to the banks, but the banks aren’t going to be able to educate every day Australians to make those right changes, whereas a broker has a serious advantage because a broker doesn’t represent one or two lenders,” he says.
“A broker represents anywhere upwards of 20-30 lenders – and the most important thing is that they represent that particular client.”