Boosting broking knowledge

A lender and aggregator talk about the importance of educating brokers

Brokers are uniquely placed to be aware of the changing lending landscape, giving them a natural edge in the marketplace. But to be the best in the business is an ongoing pursuit; regular education is required in order to keep up with changes in the market.

Businesses that commit time and resources to creating and executing a business strategy have the potential to consistently improve their performance over time. “It’s vital that brokers take every chance to upskill so that they can capitalise on every opportunity that exists in the market,” says Aaron Milburn, director of sales and distribution at Pepper.

Pepper is genuinely passionate about ensuring that every Australian family understands their financial options. Borrowers, Milburn notes, are simply looking to brokers to help them find a personalised solution to their lending goals.

“Showing that you truly understand what your customer wants, and being able to provide that solution when no one else could, will pay dividends,” he says.

In 2019, access to training resources is also far easier. With the choices available from a broad variety of companies, brokers looking to enhance their skills have arguably never had it better. It’s simply a matter of identifying the needs that are specific to your brokerage and reaching out to a provider that can fill the gap.

Improving broker awareness

One increasingly common area in which broker education is needed is specialist lending. Over the last couple of years, Pepper has seen its goal as to help raise awareness and understanding of the specialist lending category and assist those customers whose needs sit outside the offering of traditional lenders.

Brokers have often been wary of alternative lending solutions, particularly in the wake of the 2008 GFC, but they’re becoming more common as banks tighten their lending criteria. The changing nature of work and Australia’s ageing population also mean that more and more borrowers no longer fit the standard profile.

“More brokers are now realising that prime is just a moment in time and alternative lending solutions are becoming the new normal” Aaron Milburn, director of sales and distribution, Pepper

“Today, with the changing landscape, more brokers are now realising that prime is just a moment in time and alternative lending solutions are becoming the new normal,” says Milburn.

“We’re excited for our fifth annual national Insights Roadshow in June, where brokers will be able to get the insights, tools and panel expertise that will give their businesses that winning edge.”

The focus now is on arming brokers with the right insights and the tools they need to successfully service this important and growing market.

Milburn says Pepper has an array of “cutting-edge” tools available to brokers, pointing to its Customer Conversion Toolkit, Market Smarts industry insights and Alternative Lending Market Toolkit.

He is also impressed by the strong appetite from brokers for information around alternative lending.

“They’ve really embraced the extra information they are receiving up front to help their customers make a decision,” Milburn says. “It has attracted many new-to-specialist-lending brokers, and it’s helping dispel the misconception that writing a non-conforming loan is too hard.”

Tailoring for best fit

PLAN Australia also sees supporting the growth and development of its brokers as a top priority, with business strategy and development being its particular focuses at the moment.

Each broking business has its own training needs, says CEO Anja Pannek. Accordingly, the company aims to provide a broad range of professional development options – from face-to-face events through to digital content that brokers can access easily from their offices or mobile devices.

“This is a pivotal time for the industry, and it’s important for broking businesses to have a strong foundation to ensure their future viability,” says Pannek.

“With the heightened focus on compliance and regulation, brokers are telling us that they require tailored, educational content that helps them to adapt to regulatory change and improve outcomes for customers.”

In practical terms, this means that PLAN invests significant time in researching content, listening to what members have to say about what they want to learn, and ensuring that its mission resonates with a broad range of members.

“In 2018 we ran a range of initiatives to help grow and improve brokers’ services, including our largest-ever business planning session at our PD days nationally,” says Pannek.

“We also launched a new initiative, the 100/100 program, a national boardroom-style program involving 100 PLAN Australia businesses in 100 days.” During the 100/100 program, brokers were encouraged to analyse their existing business, then identify their ideal client, their customer value proposition, and ways to improve their business processes and leadership style.

“This is a pivotal time for the industry, and it is important for broking businesses to have a strong foundation to ensure their future viability” Anja Pannek, CEO, Plan Australia

“To round off the program, PLAN Australia partnership managers followed up with all participants, to work with them on bringing their ideas to life,” says Pannek. “In 2019 we will continue to build on the success of these initiatives with a range of business planning and strategy events.”

Reaching bigger audiences

For content delivery, PLAN’s conference agenda throughout the year includes a National Conference, Commercial and Asset Finance conferences, a Strategic Partners Leadership Gathering and PD days. The aggregator aims to have the right mix of face-to-face and digital events so there is something in the calendar for everyone, Pannek says.

“In the current climate, we know brokers are looking for tailored support, so we will continue to listen to our members to ensure we are delivering high-quality, impactful and relevant education and training at all times.”

Concessions have also been made to incorporate a broader variety of participants. Digital PD days are useful for regional brokers and also for allowing the entire staff of a broking business to participate (including admin staff ), which would not usually be possible at a face-to-face event. “Brokers are often time-poor and on the road, so we know that the digital format resonates with them,” says Pannek. “Sessions are recorded and can be viewed in their own time.”

Breaking into a new phase of broking

As the broking industry evolves, lenders continue to look for new ways to provide actionable insights and tools for brokers who want to expand their toolkits of lending solutions. But the human element can’t be forgotten. Tools and platforms won’t mean much without having the right team embedded into the business, Milburn says.

“Our existing team has ensured we are providing brokers with the right support they need, when they need it,” he says. It’s a common sentiment across the wider business.

As broker members move to the next phase of growth in their businesses, they’re going to need to upskill.

Diversifying customer bases and improving efficiency won’t be possible without the right combination of all these factors in place. Yet given the resources that are already available – and those that will be developed into the future – it seems the future of broking is in good hands.