The highlights of our High Performance Business Summit

Through our Top 100 Brokers report, Top 10 Brokerages rankings and Australian Mortgage Awards, MPA talks to dozens of the most talented and innovative brokers every year.

Getting them in the same room, sharing the same stage, has never happened before. We created MPA’s High-Performance Business (HPB) Summit to finally bring together that expertise and share lessons in a day devoted to business strategy – leads, clients, management, diversification, processing and much more. 

MPA’s first HPB Summit took place in Sydney’s Doltone House in late April. It centred around three broker panels, populated entirely by award winners and Top 100 Brokers, on the subjects of becoming a top broker, running a top brokerage, and diversifying your brokerage beyond residential home loans. Read on for the key points from our panellists, as well as other highlights of the day and a preview of our upcoming Melbourne summit. Suncorp Bank was the event partner and gold sponsors included Commonwealth Bank and La Trobe Financial. 

MPA’s High Performance Summit in Melbourne will take place on 26 July, 2016 at The Langham.

The new event will focus on equipping brokers with the knowledge and expertise to take their business to the next level. Award-winning brokers will share their tips and strategies on how to grow leads and volumes, and improve digital marketing and efficiencies. 

It will feature brokers who have been recognised in the annual MPA Top 100, Top 10 Independent Brokerages and Australian Mortgage Awards, including: Josh Bartlett, managing director of Loan Market Bayside; Andrew Mirams, managing director of Intuitive Finance; Mark Davis, principal of The Australian Lending Investment Centre; and Daniel Zadnik, director of Hawthorn Finance. Please click here to find out more and register.

Becoming a top broker
On our first panel sat leading brokers Justin Doobov of Intelligent Finance, Leeanne Scott of Mortgage Choice North Sydney, Shore Financial’s Theo Chambers and Daniel O’Brien of PFS Financial Services. Sam Boer from Commonwealth Bank Australia was also a panellist. 

Many interesting points were raised but one that definitely rocked the room was Doobov’s mention of his 80-point checklist for quality control. Scott of Mortgage Choice shared some top hiring tips, pointing out the value of university students as part-time staff . “I’ve had huge success with university students,” said Scott. “University students have regular hours, they can juggle their university timetables, you don’t have to pay them a lot and they are hugely reliable – they have been in my experience.”

O’Brien of PFS Financial Services said hiring new staff can be a tricky balancing act in terms of timing so as not to bring someone on but having to let them go down the track because the business wasn’t at the right stage for that amount of support staff.

Shore Financial started out as a team of three and now are more than 50 strong. Chambers said they wanted to make sure the broker wasn’t focused on the admin and other things that may reduce their time for clients. “The key that we want is that a customer can speak to anyone in our business but still get the exact same service proposition because it’s cross-standardised,” he said. “All we want our brokers to do is basically speak to the clients and meet the clients.”

Sam Boer mentioned that managing people is a skill set and that research has shown having a diverse work group tends to deliver the strongest outcomes. 

On one thing they’ve changed in their business, Doobov said he has now passed a lot of admin work on to his staff  to free up time to talk with his clients and he is also prioritising listening to his staff  and finding out what drives them to succeed. 

Managing a top brokerage
Our second panel discussion of the day featured Steven Degetto of Suncorp Bank and brokers Donald Tang from Alliance Mortgage Solutions, Oxygen Home Loans’ Alan Hemmings, Katrina Rowlands of Mortgage Success and 1st Street Home Loans’ Jeremy Fisher. 

Referrals came up soon into the discussion and there were differing opinions on whether brokers should ask their clients for one or not. 
Oxygen’s Hemmings said referrals are about relationships. “You can’t get a referral if you don’t have a relationship with someone.” He said the broker has the right to ask for a referral if they have done a good job by that client. “I think sometimes we forget that question.”

1st Street’s Fisher took the opposite stance saying, “I don’t ask clients to refer me on to other clients.” He says the transaction with the client itself can drive more clients to you through involvement with other professionals, such as accountants and planners, without ever having to ask the client themselves for a referral.

Oxygen has many brokers working within real estate offices and, when it comes to branding, Hemmings says they are about the brand sitting behind the broker, and that Oxygen is there to provide support to the broker but in the end it’s the individual broker’s name and number that the client has. Tang says they have a strong emphasis on each broker being a representative of the brand at Alliance Mortgage Solutions and also hold various marketing events throughout the year.

Mortgage Success’ Rowling pointed out the broker’s duty of being accountable and responsible for their actions. “We have a very strong culture in our team that you count – you’re responsible for what you say you’re going to do.”

“I’m a strong believer in supporting the broker,” said Fisher. “Yes, they might be working under 1st Street in this instance, but it’s them the customer is coming for, and they are the ones providing the service.”

When it comes to managing BDMs, Suncorp’s Degetto says they have awards programs and it is important to give BDMs recognition for their successes. “I think most people, and it’s certainly been my experience, want to be part of something greater than themselves.” 

On strategies for the year ahead, Rowling said she is reviewing basic procedures and taking on board suggestions from new staff  to get a fresh perspective. “I’ve found it really interesting – although [our] process and procedure manual has been reviewed every couple of years – to see the differences already and then to hear it from a fresh point of view.”

Going beyond residential mortgages
Our final and third group of panellists delved into diversification and included La Trobe Financial’s Cory Bannister, Michael Jin of N1 Loans, Moshe Moses from Astute Sydney City Central, Mhairi Macleod of Astute Ability Finance Group, and Peita Davies from Choice Home Loans (Blue Mountains).

“I think the last piece of the puzzle is really accounting,” said Moses. “You can deal with the client and you can be the best lender, you can be the best financial planner but at the end of the day, the client will always seek one person and that’s obviously the accountant. Surprisingly, the accountant now can’t give advice, so the accountant (unless they get the right qualification) needs us or needs planners to benefit them and their position in terms of what they’re off ering. Accounting is something we’re looking at. That would complete our diversification model, by actually bringing an accountant on.”  

Choice Home Loans’ Davies said, “We built a client map – it’s ensuring that those conversations are had at the very onset of the first meeting with the client around what opportunities there are for us to help them. I don’t think that we can be all things to all people so it’s quite important to make a decision on what it is that you actually want to focus on in the business and then have the right people around you to do the rest.”

La Trobe’s Bannister pointed out it was a natural progression for them to move into commercial lending. “We’ve found that (commercial) was another underserved area… Many brokers tell us they feel as though they are not locked out of commercial lending, but certainly that there are some barriers.”

Reducing errors was also one of the topics discussed and N1 Finance’s Jin said they have a thorough auditing process in place to minimise errors. “I audit every single broker in the fi rm on a monthly basis,” he said, fi nding out the cause of the error rather than just correcting it.

Macleod of Astute Ability Finance created a successful niche in the equine industry. “We’re now three years into it and I have a very successful arm to my business talking about diversification in the equine services.” But she says it’s not just about horses – it’s about tow vehicles and anything else associated with the equine services.

On whether any of them are considering implementing fee-for-service into their business, Davies said it’s a no at this point, although she thought about it for SMSF because of the added work involved. “The model that I’m taking my business to...may even be a case that if you want to deal with myself, I’ll charge a fee – but I’ll have brokers there that will be on a no-fee service.”

“There will come a time when I believe it will come in, but at this stage it’s a no from me,” said Macleod.

N1 Finance charges a fee for their accounting and commercial services, and Astute Sydney City Central have fees on their commercial, SMSF and financial services, but residential mortgages are different, said Moses. “If a client’s happy with your service and can also regenerate additional business, I don’t see the necessity for fee-for-service, other than what I said before about commercial and asset finance and self-managed. It defeats the purpose of what we’re doing and it also gives the client the ability to go elsewhere and say, ‘Well, can I get this done for free?’”

One stand-out of the day was the presentation by two Aussie explorers, James “Cas” Castrission and Justin “Jonesy” Jones, who swept the audience into another world – just as they described their journey in 2012. They completed the longest unsupported polar expedition of all time, walking from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back without assistance in 89 days and cross-country skiing 2275km. They also described their 3318km crossing 
of the Tasman Sea by kayak four years earlier, another world first.

Overall, the day was a success and the broker attendees had many positive things to say about the event. “I think it’s been highly beneficial,” said Ian Perreau of Robert V Read & Associates. “It’s always good to benchmark against your peers and obviously the high performance loan writers and how they again diversify their business and stay abreast of the market. Overall, a very enjoyable event.”

The Loan Lady’s Michelle Hudson said, “If you can get a few things that you can take back and implement into your business, it makes (the summit) worthwhile. And having a motivational speaker does remarkable things. I liked the reciprocity deficit idea; I’d like to try that.”

The panel members also enjoyed the experience with Alliance Mortgage Solutions’ Donald Tang saying, “On the panel, all the questions are very well designed. It’s actually quite fi tting for the current environment and current industry, and gave me a good opportunity to speak out about what I want.”

“It’s been great – a lot of take-outs,” said George Eljouni of iFinancial Mortgages. “It’s just good to see how other operators run their business, how they grow and the strategies behind it.” 

The next High-Performance Business Summit will be held in Melbourne on 26 July 2016. Please click here to find out more and register.