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MPAMAGAZINE.COM.AU ISSUE 20.12

TOP 100 BROKERS Celebrating the brokers who battled the challenges of 2020 to achieve record-breaking results THE PERSONAL TOUCH Six non-bank lenders talk virtually about their support for brokers

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2020 AMAs Meet the winners of the industry’s most prestigious awards

WHY DIVERSIFY? Find out how and why brokers should pivot beyond mortgages

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DECEMBER 2020

CONNECT WITH US

CONTENTS

Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information? twitter.com/MPA_Australia facebook.com/Mortgage ProfessionalAU

UPFRONT 02 Editorial

A month to celebrate

04 Statistics

14

28

10

08 Opinion

Find out who made it into MPA's prestigious annual list with record-breaking numbers

FEATURES

TOP 100 BROKERS

68 Supercharge your creativity How to be creative and boost your professional and personal success

70 Digital relationships

Forging and maintaining strong relationships in the digital age

What six non-bank representatives had to say about the importance of the partnership between non-banks and the broker industry in MPA’s virtual livestream

MPA talks to the general manager of industry and partnership development at AFG, who was also named co-chair of the Combined Industry Forum this year

Open banking surges onwards A year of reflection

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020

MARK HEWITT

06 News analysis

FEATURES

SPECIAL REPORT

BIG INTERVIEW

Savings goals are changing

46

FEATURES

DIVERSIFICATION Three leading voices give their views on why brokers should consider diversifying beyond mortgages

50

MPAMAGAZINE.COM.AU

FEATURES

AMA WINNERS

A comprehensive look at who won top accolades at the 2020 Australian Mortgage Awards

85 63 13 ne.

NOW ONLINE: Our daily newsletter. Keep on top of property market trends, business strategy, and what industry leaders have to say.

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17/11/2020 10:21:13 AM


UPFRONT

EDITOR’S LETTER www.mpamagazine.com.au

Celebrating broker resilience

W

e’re ending the year on a high, with a huge issue of MPA to see out 2020. While this year has been a difficult one for a lot of us, there is still so much to celebrate, and this month’s magazine really showcases that. To highlight the incredible winners of the 2020 Australian Mortgage Awards, we pushed back profiling them to this final issue to allow us more time to speak to those who have picked up awards. It was more than a little different this year watching the ceremony online, but I think it captured the incredible resilience of the broker industry. Congratulations to everyone who was listed as a finalist, particularly in such a tough year as this. We haven’t stopped there with the celebrations, though. As we do every year in our December issue, we’re putting the spotlight on MPA’s Top 100 Brokers. I love writing this feature because it gives me a chance to reach out to brokers – many of whom I haven’t had a chance to communicate with before – and find out what they’ve been doing. This year was even more interesting as I learnt how

The Top 100 is getting harder and harder to crack, and this is just a testament to how important brokers have been this year each broker has faced into the challenges, and saw the differences between brokers in Victoria who have experienced more restrictions than most, and those in states like Queensland and WA where things are much more open. We want to thank everyone who submitted an entry for the Top 100, regardless of whether or not you made it into the list. There were some big industry figures who didn’t make it in, but the Top 100 is getting harder and harder to crack, and this is just a testament to how important brokers have been this year. Other great parts of this issue are the Big Interview with AFG’s Mark Hewitt, and the 2020 Non-Banks Panel. The non-banks are always a pleasure to interview at these annual discussions, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that next year we can go back to doing it in person! Thanks to all those involved in helping me get this magazine together. I’m already looking ahead to 2021 and all the great topics we’ve got coming up.

DECEMBER 2020 EDITORIAL

SALES & MARKETING

Editor Rebecca Pike

National Sales Manager Claire Tan

Journalist Tom Goodwin

Global Head of Media Marketing Lisa Narroway

Contributors Mark Carter, Mykel Dixon, Mhairi MacLeod

CORPORATE

Production Editor Roslyn Meredith

Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley

ART & PRODUCTION

Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley

Designer Cess Rodriguez Traffic Coordinator Kristine Jamir

Managing Director Justin Kennedy Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil

EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES

tel: +612 8437 4784 rebecca.pike@keymedia.com

SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES

tel: +61 2 8311 5831 • fax: +61 2 8437 4753 subscriptions@keymedia.com.au

ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES claire.tan@keymedia.com

Key Media Regional head office Level 10, 1–9 Chandos St, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia tel: +61 2 8437 4700 • fax: +61 2 9439 4599 www.keymedia.com Offices in Sydney, Auckland, Denver, London, Toronto and Manila

Mortgage Professional Australia is part of an international family of B2B publications and websites for the mortgage industry CANADIAN MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL neil.sharma@kmimedia.ca T +1 416 644 8740

Rebecca Pike, editor, MPA Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss.

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17/11/2020 8:34:15 AM


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17/11/2020 8:34:26 AM


UPFRONT

STATISTICS

Goals take a hit from COVID The pandemic has led to Aussies putting off plans like buying a home – but they are saving more IT’S NO secret that the coronavirus pandemic has hurt Australians, but research from several banks shows its true impact. According to data released by Bankwest in October, which analysed the savings goals of its customers, almost half of millennials who responded to its survey are saving for a home. This age group is not only the most focused on buying a home but also the least likely to be setting travel or other miscellaneous goals. Meanwhile, research from AMP indicates

22%

that the finances of more than two thirds (67%) of Australians have been impacted by COVID-19. Many have had to postpone their financial goals: almost a third have put off buying a car, the same proportion have delayed a major event such as a wedding, and almost a quarter have postponed buying a home. On a positive note, figures from AFG reveal that the value of loans going through mortgage brokers remained above $15m this year, reaching a record-breaking $18.2m in the first quarter of FY21.

29%

1 in 5

of Aussies have postponed buying a home in 2020

have delayed buying a car

have put off a career change

MILLENNIALS TARGETING HOMEOWNERSHIP More than any other generation, millennials are the ones prioritising their homeownership dreams over lifestyle aspirations. Overall, saving for a home was the third-most-common goal of all Bankwest customers surveyed, behind ‘just saving’ and ‘travel’. The latter remained the second-most-common goal, despite ongoing travel restrictions.

19%

have held off on buying an investment property Source: AMP research, August 2020

TOP-GROWING GOAL TO SAVE FOR A HOME

Millennials’ desire to save for a home propelled this goal to the top of the growth chart for Bankwest customer goals. Saving for travel was the only goal that showed just single-figure growth, reflecting the COVID-19 restrictions. Growth in savings goals by type (ranked by most to least common) 50% 40%

49.62%

49.58%

Mar–Aug 2020 growth (inc.)

48.88% 42.90%

40.02%

45.03%

30%

SETTING GOALS HELPS BOOST SAVINGS Bankwest analysis revealed the significant impact of goal-setting: those customers working towards a purpose grew their savings balances at a much greater rate than those with no aim. Savings balances of customers with goal/no goal

No savings goal

Average age

Average savings balance

Year-on-year change

40

$11,294

13.67%

Average age

Average savings balance

Year-on-year change

29

$12,067

41.77%

(at last week of September)

20%

Savings goal

10%

7.67% 0%

Just saving

Travel

Home

Big Something Emergency purchase else fund

Family Source: Bankwest

4

(at last week of September)

Source: Bankwest

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17/11/2020 12:10:12 PM


GOAL DISTRIBUTION BY GENERATION 18.79%

Big purchase

Emergency fund

4.24% 9.07%

Family

2.21% 7.52%

8.87%

11.71%

7.20%

10.67%

8.20% 4.53%

11.85%

Home

7.15%

21.18%

Just saving

13.31%

29.70%

Something else

9.43%

8.86%

25.09%

9.76%

23.10%

19.40%

Gen Z

23.02%

12.09%

23.77%

Travel

8.98%

26.78%

Millennials

33.51%

Gen X

Baby boomers Source: Bankwest

MORTGAGE GROWTH STILL ON THE UP

Despite Australians saying they have put off buying homes in 2020, AFG figures show continued growth in the number and value of mortgages lodged in the course of this year. Number of loans lodged

Value of loans lodged

$20bn

Average savings (no savings goal)

27,869

29,141 25,525

23,035

28,601

28,335

$13,200

31,069

12,067

25,243

$15bn

$11,400

15,000 10,000 5,000 0

Average savings (savings goal)

35,461

30,000 25,000 20,000

Average savings balances of goal-setters and non-goal-setters were almost equal even in May 2020, before rapidly diverging. Bankwest data suggested it only took one goal for customers to see a benefit. Savings balances across time by customers with goal/no goal

Number and value of mortgages lodged in the last two financial years

40,000 35,000

RAPID DIVERGENCE IN SAVINGS TRENDS

10,721 9,924

9,936

10,000

8,993

9,011

9,067

Sep 2019

Dec 2019

Mar 2020

$9,600 $10bn 2019 2019 2019 2019 2020 2020 2020 2020 2021 1st qtr 2nd qtr 3rd qtr 4th qtr 1st qtr 2nd qtr 3rd qtr 4th qtr 1st qtr Source: AFG Index

$7,800

11,294

10,758

Jun 2020

Sep 2020 Source: Bankwest

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17/11/2020 12:10:23 PM


UPFRONT

NEWS ANALYSIS

The value of open banking The second phase of the Consumer Data Right was rolled out in November, meaning the big four banks are sharing their mortgage and personal loan data – but what does that mean for brokers? WITH MORTGAGE data now being shared by the big four banks as part of the second phase of open banking, a new report has revealed that 76% of mortgage brokers do not intend to actually use the data. The Consumer Data Right was officially launched on 1 July, when the big four banks began to share current and savings account data. As of 1 November, this was widened to include data on mortgage and personal loans. As we move into this next phase, The State of Open Banking in Australia, a report by technology providers NextGen.Net and Frollo, looks at what the financial sector thinks of the new banking regime, where it is headed and what the most immediate challenges and opportunities are for businesses. Based on interviews with industry leaders and a survey of 161 finance and broking professionals across Australia’s financial sector, the report highlights that most of the industry sees open banking’s ability to streamline the lending process through income and expense verification as its most popular use case. More than 70% of industry respondents intend to use CDR data, with almost 58% stating that they intend to use it within the next 12 months – but this is not the case for mortgage brokers. Streamlining the application process NextGen.Net chief customer officer Tony Carn said awareness of the CDR’s potential for players beyond the big four and other

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current and soon-to-be-accredited data recipients (ADRs) was low. According to the report, awareness among the broking community was 25% lower than the report average. “Brokers fall into the same category as consumers in this regard, as we’re still in the early stages of rollout,” Carn said. “However, now that mortgages are part of the open banking ecosystem, I believe the broking sector will start to take note of its potential, especially as ADRs start to bring their openbanking-powered solutions to market.” Carn explained that there were a number of different ways brokers would benefit from the proposed open banking regime changes. He said streamlining and digitising the

“The broader benefit for brokers is to leverage the opportunity to nurture their customers earlier and for longer and hold their hand to get them to the home loan application stage. Helping a customer get ‘fit for finance’ and ‘approval ready’ will enable brokers to deliver holistic lifetime

“There are more opportunities for banks, lenders and fintechs to build innovative propositions for consumers. This in turn will drive competition” Gareth Gumbley, Frollo loan application process would reduce the amount of paper used for verification and validation, save time for both brokers and lenders, and ultimately deliver a better experience for borrowers. “This will then translate into a reduction in the amount of times a lender comes back with more/missing information requests, significantly reducing friction from the whole home loan process,” he said.

value to their customers – way beyond just the home loan application.” According to the report, the biggest challenges for brokers are to gain clarity around the CDR rules, and the need for customer education. Carn said that outside of understanding the government’s stance on a broker’s role in the CDR ecosystem, once ADRs built the tools it would be easier to understand.

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17/11/2020 8:48:13 AM


MOST VALUABLE USE OF OPEN BANKING

Which of the following use cases for open banking data do you see as most valuable for your organisation? Income and expense verification

56%

Onboarding automation

52%

Account verification

43%

Compliance

41%

Credit-scoring algorithms

38%

Personal finance management

38%

Source: Frollo, NextGen.Net: The State of Open Banking in Australia, November 2020

“At the moment, we’re all at the point of now being able to directly share and access consumer banking data with ADRs – and that’s great,” he said. “But it’s what brokers and aggregators can do with that data that will really bring to life the promise and significance of CDR for

for businesses that want to use the data to compete. “The additional products in the November scope make CDR much more interesting for lenders who use our outsourced ADR solution, as it provides them with a more complete financial picture to make credit

“Now that mortgages are part of the open banking ecosystem, I believe the broking sector will start to take note of its potential” Tony Carn, NextGen.Net the broker sector, and that’s what I’m most excited about.”

Better solutions for borrowers Finance management fintech Frollo invested in open banking before the company even began. It offers two distinct services using CDR data: its consumer app giving consumers an overview of their financial accounts, and an ‘outsourced ADR’ solution

decisions,” said Frollo founder and CEO Gareth Gumbley. While the report shows that around a third of the industry is undecided as to whether open banking will create trust in the financial system or a level playing field in banking, Gumbley said it would mean good outcomes for consumers. “Under the Consumer Data Right, consumers have more control over their

financial data and who they choose to share it with,” he said. “This means there are more opportunities for banks, lenders and fintechs to build innovative propositions for consumers. This in turn will drive competition and ultimately a better deal for consumers.” The majority of respondents believed it would take around three to five years for Australians to begin using open banking, but Carn said that did not mean it was not exciting. “I think people tend to underestimate what can be done in three to five years,” he said. “Just look at the level of digital adoption that took place across the sector during COVID-19 lockdowns. “From a NextGen perspective, we clearly see the potential that open banking has to revolutionise the way Australians engage with their finances. And we believe that those who’ll win in this new era of banking are those that assess their readiness, choose the right partners, move early to embrace this new technology, and really understand how it can transform the way they engage with their customers.”

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 8:48:36 AM


UPFRONT

OPINION

GOT AN OPINION THAT COUNTS? Email rebecca.pike@keymedia.com

Charting a new path forward Mhairi MacLeod, Australian Broker of the Year winner at the 2020 AMAs, says this year has been one of reflection and resilience LOOKING BACK, the biggest business lesson I’ve learnt during the pandemic is that nothing in life is ever a straight line. But there is always a silver lining. Even during a postpandemic world. I’ve learnt that it’s not easy to lead through chaos at this velocity of change. It will take resilience to analyse and develop strategies to keep your business alive. It no doubt takes courage to stop doing what used to work and move into uncharted territory. And without question, it takes heart. I’ve since reached an all-time-high career milestone, winning three industry awards, Broker of the Year – Regional, Broker of the Year – Specialist Lending, and Broker of the Year, at the Australian Mortgage Awards. I couldn’t have been prouder to achieve this; winning these awards has truly inspired me to continue my passion for the broking profession and will only motivate me my team at Astute Ability Group to grow. More than ever, our productivity and execution of loans has improved and increased. The award win has really hit home the benefit of our shift to a solutions-focused business that gets genuine results for our customers. Most rewarding during this time has been our doubling down on looking at ways to innovate and invigorate the business; being more connected and sharing insights and stories with our peers in the broking community. Opportunities for regional expansion During COVID-19 my local community ties in regional areas have strengthened and continued to grow. More than ever, our customers based out of the main cities

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appreciate the opportunity to speak face-toface with a broker but also value the online touchpoints we offer. Our current environment means brokers have limitless borders and more chances to grow our customer base, even more so now with access to specialist and non-bank lenders like Pepper Money, which can service the unique needs of these customers. Despite their geographical distance from the main cities, these customers have proved to be incredibly loyal to the broker channel and are

Trends towards specialist lending If I’ve learnt anything as a broker this year, it's that our role has become even broader. Day in, day out, brokers are wearing more hats than ever, because there’s no such thing as a vanilla loan any more. I believe brokers are now in a unique position to call ourselves specialists or even financial educators of our clients. Despite the pandemic, my specialist lending customers are the ones who have understood the strong value proposition of brokers. These customers are even stickier; they are typically highly engaged and appreciate the value of a good specialist broker as they, too, are self-employed or small business owners like myself. Their financial scenarios are typically more complex, so they genuinely acknowledge the time, thought and heavy lifting we do to help them access finance. Most importantly, these customers just want someone to hear their business story and be a sounding board. My biggest reward is hearing customers’ stories and watching them thrive despite a pandemic. Even if we can’t help a borrower today, we are positioning them with solutions for future success.

Our current environment means brokers have limitless borders and more chances to grow our customer base looking for financial products that support their lifestyle and particular personal traits. The unique situation of the pandemic taught us that we can now service customers anywhere and at any time. We can operate beyond the border, and I’ve truly been able to grow a business with national reach. What has worked well for me and the team is really driving the borderless value proposition home to customers and new prospects. Our uniqueness in being able to service clients in regional and metro NSW, Victoria, Queensland and even across WA means our client base is constantly changing. This is a positive outcome for our customers, and brokers should be seeing a 10–20% increase in customer growth simply by driving tech innovation in the way we connect with interstate customers.

I believe customers are changing and will continue to change and evolve, and they will embrace the technology available. Brokers will continue to diversify and look to their nonbank lenders and aggregators for support. Customers are already confident of the specialist advice brokers can provide. But to stand out against the tide in this industry means we need to remain on the front foot of regulatory changes; be responsive and informative in a growing digital space; and provide specialty loan products with our customers in mind. Once you get it right, these borrowers will become customers for life. Mhairi MacLeod is the founder and principal of Astute Ability Finance Group. She won three awards at the 2020 AMAs, including Broker of the Year.

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12/11/2020 8:56:16 AM 17/11/2020 9:08:24 AM


PEOPLE

BIG INTERVIEW

MARK HEWITT: MOVING WITH THE TIMES Through a year of uncertainty and change, AFG’s general manager of industry and partnership development has continued to focus on the big issues for brokers

AFTER AS many as 40 years in the finance industry, Mark Hewitt has seen a lot change, including in himself. Starting out as a bank teller as a “scruffy, curly-haired” country kid from a dairy farming town in Victoria, he is now based in WA as general manager, industry

Over that time, he saw the introduction of ATMs and was responsible for maintaining them and training people on how to use them. Now he says he is seeing the end of ATMs as more and more machines are removed and cash becomes almost obsolete.

“[Brokers] play a great role in bringing competition and choice, and that’s never been needed more than it is now – it’s still a very confusing market” and partnership development at AFG, one of Australia’s biggest mortgage aggregators. Although he was only around 20 when he moved to the western state to follow the woman who would later become his wife, Hewitt found plenty of job opportunities there as WA was experiencing a finance boom. He took a job at ANZ, where he worked for more than 20 years.

10

He also saw the emergence of the broker industry. In the late 1980s the banks began to centralise all their activities into one centre, meaning the lending side of things was taken away from branch managers. Applications were sent off to these state centres and decisions would be sent back to the branch. Hewitt headed up a team at one of the

state centres, managing people for the first time and training them in lending. “I found that really rewarding and something I’ve always really enjoyed doing – mentoring and coaching and giving people opportunities,” he says. After a few years, these centres became nationalised, and as experienced branch managers and lenders were retrenched, they took their knowledge and expertise to begin what we now know as broking. Hewitt’s first introduction to mortgage brokers was a few years later, after he took some time away from ANZ to work for its then subsidiary Esanda. He was asked to come back to the ANZ part of the business to become regional manager broker for SA and WA, and moved up to a national role with responsibility for key aggregator relationships after two years. It was during this time that he worked closely with AFG as it grew. When the aggregator offered him a role in 2006, many questioned Hewitt’s decision to leave the security of the major bank for a

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17/11/2020 2:21:20 PM


PROFILE Name: Mark Hewitt Title: General manager, industry and partnership development Company: AFG Years in the industry: 40 Career highlight: “After the last federal election, going from a position where we thought we were moving to a customerpays model to one where the existing remuneration model was staying in place. That was really satisfying from an industry and AFG point of view, because we’d done a lot of work to protect the industry and it was really satisfying for our brokers and our customers.” Career lowlight: “When I was working at ANZ and we were centralising a state processing centre to a national centre and I had to tell 90 people that their jobs didn’t exist any more.”

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17/11/2020 9:13:17 AM


ts to ments

PEOPLE

BIG INTERVIEW

business less than 10 years old, but he says he decided to trust his gut instinct. “I think around that time AFG was still doing less than a billion dollars a month in loan applications, but you could tell they had a vision for how things might progress,” Hewitt says. “Working for a business where you could decide in the morning that you wanted to make a change in your technology system to make things better for your brokers and your customers and you could implement it in the afternoon was really appealing.”

Lobbying for brokers, preparing for BID Hewitt’s punt paid off, and he has been at AFG for the last 14 years. Previously in charge of sales and distribution, he took on the lender relationships side of the business last year, working with a lender panel that has since grown to over 70 institutions. A big focus has been on regulatory changes, communicating with regulators and industry

AFG BROKER GROWTH

8%

application growth from previous quarter

16%

application growth year-on-year

23%

of applications processed for first home buyers

~8%

drop in market share to major banks

13%

increase in share of refinancing market to non-banks

Source: AFG Index, first quarter, FY21

“AFG was still doing less than a billion dollars a month in loan applications, but you could tell they had a vision for how things might work” associations and lobbying on behalf of brokers and customers. With the industry moving towards implementation of the best interests duty, Hewitt says the aggregator began making changes and preparing for this last year. “We’ve been really understanding what it’s going to mean for brokers and taking that, adapting it into our systems and, more importantly, assisting through our compliance and risk team with the education part of that so when it does happen everyone is prepared for it,” he says. Earlier this year, Hewitt was named as co-chair of the Combined Industry Forum,

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so his work in lobbying for the industry is twofold. Having been involved in the forum from day one, he has been working through the recommendations of the ASIC report into remuneration, the Sedgwick review and the final report of the banking royal commission. He says there are still things the group is working on, such as providing more reporting so the regulators have evidence that brokers are providing good customer outcomes.

Many reasons to be positive While the start of the year saw a lot of concern over what the impact of COVID-19 might be,

the latest figures from the AFG Index paint a positive picture. In the first quarter of the 2021 financial year the aggregator saw its largest-ever quarter for applications. Hewitt says brokers have been playing a significant role in helping customers refinance, obtain money for renovations and buy their first homes. “It’s showing that brokers are a really important part of the lending environment,” Hewitt says. “They play a great role in bringing competition and choice, and that’s never been needed more than it is now – it’s still a very confusing market. “There’s still lots of people advertising 2% interest rates out there. What does that mean? Are there better options around? What should I be doing? There’s never been a better time for brokers to be assisting their customers with those kinds of discussions.” As the industry looks forward to what 2021 might bring, Hewitt says money and finance are always going to be important. As more branches close and face-to-face meetings remain limited, he says brokers will provide the assistance and convenience that customers need. AFG has prepared for this ‘new normal’, making changes to move from face-to-face communication towards digital. One way it did this was by introducing a weekly webinar to get feedback from brokers, learning about concerns over trail payments and verification of ID, and enabling the aggregator to have fast conversations with lenders. While all this change can seem “scary”, Hewitt encourages brokers to be “flexible and adaptable”. “The people that are going to do well are those who are going to cope with change best and not live in the past,” he says. “Keep putting your customers first. There is going to be ongoing change; it’s not going to go back to the way it was before. We’ve still got a great and viable industry, but we do have to move with the times.”

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17/11/2020 9:18:14 AM


SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020 2019

LENDING WITH THE PERSONAL TOUCH In a year like no other, six non-banks gathered virtually to discuss the biggest topics in the broking industry right now, including how they are supporting borrowers in hardship, the work they are doing with brokers to prepare for the best interests duty, and why their wider view of a borrower’s individual situation is so important right now

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AT LAST year’s roundtable, the non-banks began by talking about the increasing volume of loans coming to them from brokers. According to the MFAA’s Industry Intelligence Service survey at the time, 9.4% of brokeroriginated loans had gone to non-banks in the most recent reporting period. The picture is a little different this year: the coronavirus pandemic has meant that non-banks have pulled back from new originations to focus on supporting their existing customers. Not only that but, as refinancing activity has surged, the major banks have rolled out incentives in a big drive to take back market share. Shifting to a virtual discussion in 2020, this year’s panel featured six non-bank representatives: Aaron Milburn from Pepper, Cory Bannister from La Trobe Financial, Daniel Carde from Resimac, James Angus from

Bluestone, Joanna James from Mortgage Ezy, and John Mohnacheff from Liberty. The big topic of 2020 was of course how COVID-19 had changed the industry. The panellists delved into the changes they had had to make, highlighting how strong the non-bank proposition continued to be for borrowers and the work their teams were doing to prepare for the ‘new normal’. Although this year’s format was different as panellists were not in the room together, we still encouraged brokers to send in questions throughout the discussion. Brokers also submitted questions when registering for the livestream. The topic brokers were most interested in asking about was the best interests duty, which is due to come into play in January. While it seems there is still some concern about how brokers will prove they are

working in their customers’ best interests, the panellists were adamant that it would not be a big change and encouraged brokers to read the guidance and reach out if they had any questions. Brokers were also keen to know how the non-banks would be embracing the future, asking about the innovations they were bringing in and how they were working on building their brands to increase consumer awareness and confidence. The panellists tackled these questions with their usual rigour, occasionally breaking into conversation with each other as they discussed the non-banks’ role in the industry. Read the full report to see what they had to say about what the non-banks have been doing and their plans for the future. If you would like to watch the full discussion, the video is available at www.mpa.com.au/tv.

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020

THE PANELLISTS

Aaron Milburn Pepper Money

Cory Bannister La Trobe Financial

What insights can you share from the last six months, and how have you supported borrowers? With non-bank lenders typically being the place Australia’s self-employed borrowers turn to for financial support, it is no surprise that those represented in this year’s panel saw the impacts of COVID-19 very early on. According to the latest AFG Index looking at broker lodgements, the market share of non-banks dropped this year,

Daniel Carde Resimac

James Angus Bluestone

those customers, Bluestone redistributed its workforce. “Supporting our existing customers was our priority, and so we mobilised people out of underwriting roles, out of collection roles into hardship,” he said. Angus adds that about 50% of Bluestone’s affected customers were from three industries: retail, hospitality and construction. Taking a different approach to many of the banks that were offering immediate six-

“We pivoted the business to ensure that everyone who needed help got the help and proactively reached out to do that” Aaron Milburn, Pepper Money particularly in the final quarter of FY2020. At this year’s roundtable, the six non-banks talked about why this had to be the case. Bluestone’s chief customer officer, James Angus, kicked off the livestream discussion by saying that this year had been about focusing on its existing customers in hardship. Within the first two weeks of April the non-bank saw two things that were alarming. Twenty per cent of its customers approached the lender for hardship assistance, including around 10% of loans that had only been settled in March. To support

16

month repayment deferrals, the lender looked to find solutions to suit individual customer needs. “We checked in with our customers regularly, and most of them we’re touching base with every month to see how they’re doing,” he said. “The benefit of that is we’ve been able to continue to tailor those hardship packages, and today we’ve had about 60% of people come out of hardship and resume their regular payments, which is great news for everybody.” Another non-bank taking a proactive

Joanna James Mortgage Ezy

John Mohnacheff Liberty

approach to customers in hardship is Pepper Money. Its general manager, mortgages and lending, Aaron Milburn, said the group had reached out to every single one of its customers in early March to see what help was needed. Pepper also made an early decision to stop originating new loans until its existing customers were looked after and had the support they needed. Like Bluestone, Pepper redistributed its workforce and put more people into customer service; Milburn said the lender took a top-down approach, and he was responding to customers on social media himself. “We pivoted the business to ensure that everyone who needed help got the help and proactively reached out to do that,” he said. “Not dissimilar to James, what we’ve done is work with that cohort of customers to get them to a point where they’re either exiting that support that they needed or are on the pathway to doing that; then we were able to go out and start to introduce new families into the organisation.” La Trobe Financial also repurposed its credit analysts and put them on the frontline of its hardship assistance team. Cory Bannister, chief lending officer, said the non-bank felt it was important to have customers be able to speak to those who made the decisions on their loans. The actions taken meant La Trobe Financial saw “tremendous results”, with its hardship rates falling away quickly.

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BROKER QUESTION

Q

What are you doing to promote brand awareness and borrower confidence in using your products? Daniel Carde, Resimac: “It’s a two-way street. We’re a broker-only brand, so we rely on brokers to be our advocates. The best way to achieve this is by providing brokers with quality service and ultimately customers with quality service. They say good things about you, and that cascades down.”

“We chose to take a more granular approach and prescribe a more specific solution for each individual customer, based on what their particular needs were” Cory Bannister, La Trobe Financial “We chose to take a more granular approach and prescribe a more specific solution for each individual customer based on what their particular needs were,” Bannister said. “A lot of that involved loan repayment deferrals, interest-only periods and working with brokers on debt structuring to take more of a longer-term view around the repair of these customers, and it’s been really well received; we’re really pleased.”

As we’ve all faced a difficult year, what are you doing to reassure brokers that you are working in their best interests? Having no physical branches and operating

without the level of marketing that the banks possess, non-banks rely heavily on the broker channel. So, this year, while banks have more than one channel to manage, the non-banks have really drilled down in their focus on brokers. Joanna James, general manager of Mortgage Ezy, said this support of brokers goes to the heart of non-bank businesses. As customer needs change and mainstream banks pull back in some areas, James assured brokers that non-banks would continue to offer a range of solutions. “We’re still offering those solutions for those individual client needs, the ones that aren’t black and white,” she said.

Aaron Milburn, Pepper Money: “To Dan’s point, I think it’s about educating around what the brand is and what it stands for. We have a national presence in Australia but are also operating in New Zealand. So when we accredit a broker we talk to them about what our brand is – a little bit about the history of it, but why it’s important and what it does for customers and what it does for families. When we do our welcome call we take the time to educate the customer on who Pepper is, why it started, what it’s about and what the journey is going to be like with us.” James Angus, Bluestone: “We’ve kicked off a set of above-the-line advertising, including billboards and other very prominent spaces to really just generate the connection for the consumer between home loans and Bluestone. What we’re trying to achieve there is when a broker is working with their customer and a broker says, ‘Hey, I think Bluestone would be a great solution’, the customer goes, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of Bluestone’. That’s a big challenge for us today, and we’re working with our brokers to try to raise awareness and help consumers make the connection with Bluestone.”

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020 BROKER QUESTION

Q

What are you doing to promote brand awareness and borrower confidence in using your products? Cory Bannister, La Trobe Financial: “For us at La Trobe Financial it’s leveraging history. We’ve got almost seven decades’ experience of operation, so in terms of when customers ask the question ‘How do we trust your brand?’, well, it’s been around for 68 years now. When I look around this group, this is a good representative set of the non-bank financial institution space, in which cumulatively we probably manage in the order of $60bn–$70bn of mortgage assets under management, so we’ve all got a long history and track record in the space, and that in itself speaks volumes.” Joanna James, Mortgage Ezy: “We go through a whole onboarding, educational program with brokers to make sure they really understand the products. It’s not just who we are, but how do we do what we do? How does securitisation work? How do you explain it to clients? What are the benefits of working with a non-bank lender that’s different to a mainstream lender? We’ve done a lot of work in communicating that clearly, because there’s still a lot of confusion in the marketplace around how that actually works.” John Mohnacheff, Liberty: “If brokers are talking about above-the-line sort of stuff, Liberty has just signed up with the WBBL and BBL Melbourne Renegades teams to drive brand awareness. But we also have our own branded network, Liberty Network Services, and our cars are always branded; we’ve got lots and lots of vehicles and billboards all over the place, so people are more familiar. So our brands are out there. When you talk to people, prompted awareness is pretty high for non-banks.”

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“They may have something individual about their particular situation; there are niche products such as self-managed super lending that they’re unable to access through the majors, and so we’re still supporting brokers in being able to support more clients by having a variety of products that actually suit their needs.” Transparency has been a big theme for Resimac this year, said general manager distribution Daniel Carde. While the nonbank did not make a lot of credit changes, he said, when it did it was upfront about them early on. In terms of origination, Resimac ensured that brokers were able to use digital ID and signatures as far back as April.

while the economy took a hit, it didn’t stop. “We firmly believe it was during these challenging times that brokers needed us most, as did a lot of Australian borrowers,” he said. “We saw a very strong drive in the SME space because a lot of the self-employed were dramatically hit, and it would have been the worst time in the world to pull away and not help those people.” Speaking about Liberty’s involvement in the government’s SME Guarantee scheme and its efforts to support small businesses and self-employed borrowers, Mohnacheff said, “The more we can help them the sooner we can help the economy get going, the sooner we can get people back to work, re-employ people, get repayments going

“We’ve always asked questions; we’ve always assessed loans on a case-by-case basis – and that’s the way we’ll continue” Daniel Carde, Resimac “One good thing that came out of COVID is that it brought that forward for a lot of organisations,” Carde said. “We were already heading towards it, but it accelerated it probably by a month to bring it in sooner rather than later.” Another big point Resimac focused on at the start, in an effort to support brokers, was trail commission. “We realised that brokers are business people as well,” he said. “For brokers to lose 20% of their trail income would have been a difficult task, so we made the decision very early that we would continue to pay broker trail for those customers who entered into a repayment holiday.” Liberty group sales manager John Mohnacheff said it was “all hands to the pumps” when the pandemic hit, as the team had conversations with borrowers and educated them on their options. He added that the non-bank threw as many resources as possible at the broker channel, because

again. So we have thrown in all of our resources to work with our business partners and make life as simple as possible.” In working with brokers at Bluestone, Angus said the non-bank had learnt quickly to change the way it communicated with the channel, and to provide tools to help brokers become more efficient. “We believed that it’s not a good customer outcome if you’re settling customers one month and then they go into hardship the next,” he explained. “What was really important for us was how do we communicate those decisions in a way that brokers can understand, and they understand why you’re making the decisions and support them.”

After this year, how important is it that non-banks can look at a customer’s wider situation? Over the years, non-banks have always prided themselves on their ability to look

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020 BROKER QUESTION

Q

How have you seen customer expectations change due to COVID-19, and how do brokers need to adapt to stay relevant? Aaron Milburn, Pepper Money: “[The borrowers] found the house, the kids have already picked out the bedroom, and lenders are the ones that get in the way. So we’ve got to smooth that path. That’s the whole ethos of the Product Selector that Mario [Rehayem, CEO] created: in two minutes you give a customer a conditional approval. Our job is to make that realisation of a dream seamless and make the broker look like a hero, because it’s repeat business that builds broker businesses, and we cannot forget that.” Cory Bannister, La Trobe Financial: “Customer expectations are always around a solution focus; it’s key to everything at this stage. What we saw throughout the pandemic is that speed became a very close second. Having a quick approval and clear path to settlement has always been what our customers seek generally, but more so through this period of confusion and complexity. They want that uncertainty removed, and they’re willing to go with the lender that can give them that level of certainty, and we’ve been a beneficiary of what I would call ordinarily vanilla loans purely because we can settle them within a week.” Daniel Carde, Resimac: “It’s actually put brokers in a much better position because there is uncertainty in the market. We’ve gone through regulatory change in the last five years which created opportunity for brokers; we’ve just gone through a global pandemic and some consumers are concerned and disillusioned about what they can and can’t do. That’s where a broker jumps in. The timing is absolutely perfect for brokers to take advantage of the opportunity to help those people.”

20

“I definitely agree that at the heart of non-banks is that ability to understand a client’s individual needs, and that’s something we do very well” Joanna James, Mortgage Ezy closely at individual borrowers and their situations. This year has seen that become more important than ever. Bannister said that major economic events like COVID-19 underscore the importance of non-bank financial institutions, and he called out a couple of themes from this year to support that.

Firstly, he pointed to the tightening of the major banks’ credit appetite and their focus on a “very narrow aspect of the credit market”, adding that while it made sense because of the demand for refinancing, it left a significant portion of the mortgage market overlooked. Then he highlighted the trend that has

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With the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions, Bannister said it would not be a linear recovery and could possibly play out for the next two to three years. This is when he believes non-banks will really come into play. “I think for many businesses it’ll be five steps forwards and maybe half a step back from time to time,” he said. “That’s where you’ll see non-bank institutions come to the fore, because the customer may not pass an automated credit assessment process; they will require a conversation. “It’s a totally legitimate scenario; it’s a credit event that’s played out post the fact, and that’s what we do best.” Seconding that, James said non-banks didn’t take a “cookie-cutter approach”; credit assessors would call brokers to follow up with questions and talk through the deal. “Our credit assessors will get on the phone and ring a broker and say, ‘this is what I’m looking at, this is how I’m seeing the picture; can you please expand on this part’,” she said. “That was evidenced dramatically during the immediate hit when COVID happened and we had to reassess every loan. Every single client that was going through, we were looking at the picture of their forward forecast, so I definitely agree that at the heart of non-banks is that ability to be able to understand a client’s individual needs, and

“Supporting our existing customers was our priority, and so we mobilised people out of underwriting roles, out of collection roles into hardship” James Angus, Bluestone been playing out for a couple of years, of consumers turning to brokers. “Where there’s complexity and confusion in the marketplace – and there’s no more complexity and confusion than in a pandemic – that only provides tailwinds to brokers and then also into non-bank financial institutions,” he said.

that’s something that we do very well.” Carde commented that it was not the fault of the consumer that they were in this position, pointing out that everyone was caught up in the crisis and impacted differently. In fact, he said his wife was one of the self-employed whose businesses had shut down pretty much overnight.

BROKER QUESTION

Q

How have you seen customer expectations change due to COVID-19, and how do brokers need to adapt to stay relevant? Joanna James, Mortgage Ezy: “Another thing the pandemic has done is it’s broken down traditional structures. So a lot of clients want more flexibility around when and how they are communicated with. We’re all getting more and more comfortable with digital platforms, so I can see that for a lot of brokers that’s going to be important. “Above and beyond that, there are just a lot of people who need a lot of support right now. So one of the things you can do is really upskill your ability to be that person to guide somebody through, and whilst it may not be appropriate to offer personal counselling guidance, you’re basically walking them through what is a very stressful situation at a very stressful time.” James Angus, Bluestone: “[Customers] want an easy process, a great experience underpinned by great people, and that’s what non-banks do really well. Where customers and brokers are getting very disappointed and in many cases feel let down is when they get an automated decline of sorts and the broker rings the bank to find out why and they’ve got to wait on hold for two hours. That’s what’s shifted. I don’t think the expectation has changed, but in some cases the delivery has changed, which has forced a lot of brokers and customers to reset what they want in this transaction.”

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020 BROKER LOANS BY LENDER SEGMENT While the share of broker-originated loans to non-bank lenders climbed to a high of 9.6% in 2018, the figure has dropped back slightly, almost in line with broker market share.

2.3%

3.0%

3.6%

3.6%

3.5%

3.2%

2.5%

2.3%

2.6%

2.5%

7.7%

5.7%

8.9%

9.6%

9.2%

9.4%

8.7%

8.3%

7.6%

8.3%

5.0%

7.2%

7.7%

6.5%

6.4%

6.7%

8.4%

8.4%

12.7%

6.1%

16.0%

12.6%

7.5%

7.3%

6.4%

6.7%

5.8%

6.7%

6.1%

7.3%

7.5%

12.7%

14.2%

7.0%

7.4%

8.8%

6.7%

6.9%

6.4%

14.1%

45.7%

13.1%

50.6%

48.3%

45.6%

Oct-Dec 2017

Jan-Mar Apr-Jun Jul-Sep 2018 2018 2018

11.8%

47.2%

9.2% 6.3%

8.6% 6.9%

5.4% 8.0%

5.5% 8.2%

7.3% 7.5%

11.8%

45.0%

Oct-Dec Jan-Mar 2018 2019

15.8%

13.3%

6.2% 7.9% 7.5%

12.1%

13.4%

41.5%

43.3%

42.8%

40.4%

Apr-Jun 2019

Jul-Sep 2019

Oct-Dec Jan-Mar 2019 2020

Credit unions, building societies and mutuals

Any other type of lender

International banks (eg ING Direct, Citi, etc)

Regional banks owned by or aligned to major banks

Non-bank lenders

Brokers’ white label loans

Independent regional banks (Suncorp, Bendigo)

Major banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac) Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service 10th Edition

“We’ve always asked questions; we’ve always assessed loans on a case-by-case basis, and that’s the way we’ll continue,” he said. “The only way you can get an understanding of everyone’s individual circumstances is to ask those questions.” Particularly in the context of 2020, having that focus on individual circumstances had allowed the non-banks to have conversations

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with borrowers at all stages – even those who had not settled their loans yet. “When [the pandemic] did hit we had to look at some of those loans we’d approved that were due to settle, and I’m pleased to say there wasn’t one single purchase loan that we didn’t settle,” Carde said. “But we did have the conversation with the borrowers; some borrowers may not have

wanted to settle and may have had an opportunity to get out of the contract if they were in dire circumstances, like they’d completely lost their job. We found for most of our borrowers it was just a slight change in circumstances.” Saying that “people are people”, Milburn pointed out that if brokers lined up 20 people a year ago and the same 20 people this year,

“A lot of the selfemployed were dramatically hit, and it would have been the worst time in the world to pull away and not help those people” John Mohnacheff, Liberty far more of the latter group would be unable to fit a major bank’s requirements this year. “We’re all different, so we cater to that,” he said. Pepper doesn’t have a monoline credit policy that provides just one opportunity to fit a box, he added. Remembering the MPA roundtables of a few years ago, Milburn said that back then he had to explain what non-banks were and why brokers should use them. Now, the conversation has gone beyond that, and using nonbanks is woven into the fabric of what brokers do every day. “The share of deals that brokers are doing for non-banks has grown, because as a broker you get one opportunity when you sit in front of a family to show them you’re the person that can deliver their hopes and their dreams for that purchase or that investment or commercial property,” Milburn said. “Do you roll the dice and put it through a monoline solution that continues to change and is archaic in its view? Or, do you go with an organisation like Pepper or one of the

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020

brands that my colleagues are with today where you’ve got more than one opportunity to help that family and get them on a product that’s absolutely right for them today? “That’s why non-banks are here to stay, because we look at people as people, not as a credit policy.” Agreeing that non-banks think differently about their customers, Angus compared his time at Bluestone with his previous experience at Macquarie. “At a major bank you’re talking a different language. You’re focused on numbers; settlement numbers, net interest margin, cost to income, return on capital and so on,” he said. “It’s been a revelation for me coming

“As a broker you get one opportunity when you sit in front of a family to show them you’re the person that can deliver their hopes and their dreams” Aaron Milburn, Pepper Money into Bluestone, because it’s all about the customer. We talk about customers; we talk about customer satisfaction and how we help customers. It’s just a completely different mindset. “We’ll always take the time to understand a customer’s situation and provide them with the best solution, rather than say, ‘I don’t like your credit score, I’m not even interested in who you are, I don’t even know your name, but it’s a decline’.” James added that the non-banks took a “common-sense approach”, looking at situations from more than one perspective. She also called out how the non-banks

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worked to support brokers, as this is how the non-banks grew in the first place; she said this cohort of lenders really cared about their individual customers and brokers. “I had clients that had loan applications going through who were locked out of the country and couldn’t get back in in the middle of the pandemic and were posting social media messages at 11.30 on a Friday night, and I’m answering them,” she said. “That’s not something you would get in a major institution, so we really do care. It’s a personalised approach not only to the client but also to the broker, because it’s their business and it’s their reputation that we

represent when we do what we do.” While a decade ago consumers would approach home loans with the intention of getting the lowest interest rate, Mohnacheff said there had been a dramatic shift, and that was because of the way brokers were now helping borrowers. “This is where the non-banks are masters,” he said, adding that these lenders had always worked to support brokers in finding solutions. “Cookie-cutting does not work. That approach is archaic, and I think more and more ascendancy from the non-banks will just go to prove that it’s not about just rate;

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it’s about finding the right solutions for those humans. “And it’s not just the solution for today, but it’s a long-term solution. We’ve got home loans that are going out for 30 years; it’s an enormous commitment, so let’s make sure we get the solution right first time at the start.”

How do brokers make sure they are working in the customer’s best interests as they help borrowers navigate their options? Many questions sent in by brokers for this year’s panel discussion were related to the best interests duty, which comes into force in January. When asked what brokers need to do to prepare for it, Milburn said his answer was one that may not be

popular: essentially, read the guidance. The final regulatory guide was released by ASIC in June and provides guidance on the effect of the range of credit providers and products brokers can access, recommending packages of credit products and the types of records that may be kept to demonstrate compliance. That final point on keeping records is one that brokers have been particularly concerned about. Milburn said brokers should not be waiting for someone to tell them how it was going to work; they needed to read and understand the guidance themselves. “Slow down, is the first thing I would say, and have a really detailed conversation,” he said. “If it was me, I’d include notes everywhere, just to articulate why I’ve made the recommendation that I’ve made.

“It’s been a revelation for me coming into Bluestone, because it’s all about the customer. We talk about customers; we talk about customer satisfaction and how we help customers” James Angus, Bluestone

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SPECIAL REPORT

NON-BANKS PANEL 2020

“We made the decision very early for those customers who entered into a repayment holiday that we would continue to pay broker trail” Daniel Carde, Resimac “This shouldn’t be feared. This is guidance for what 99.9% of brokers do today. You’ve got to document; you’ve got to ensure you’ve really articulated why you’ve made the recommendation. But don’t let it frighten you or change your natural style, because that’s why you’re successful as a broker.” Carde agreed that this wasn’t a new thing for brokers. He said they had “been doing it forever and a day”, so the only thing that had changed was that it was regulated, and detailed notes needed to be kept to justify brokers’ recommendations. Many in the industry are already prepared for BID, and Carde spoke of a recent fact-find

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he had read, in which the broker had recommended a Resimac product. “We weren’t the cheapest, but if you read the notes underneath, the broker actually went to the trouble of saying, ‘I’ve chosen this particular product because they’re in this circumstance, and that fits this lender’s policy’, Carde explained. “So it wasn’t the cheapest, but it was the most appropriate loan, given that individual borrower’s circumstance. So if brokers keep taking that approach you’ve got nothing to worry about.” To align recommendations to a customer’s best interests, Mohnacheff said the broker’s

first step was to properly understand the customer when it came to filling out the application forms. He said brokers just needed to take their time, complete the application carefully and accurately, and include all the notes and documentation. “Do it once; do it right the first time. That’s all we’ve ever asked of our broking partners. We will be there to support you all the way through. If you’re stuck somewhere, pick up the phone; assessors, BDMs, we’re all there to help, and it should not be feared. It shouldn’t be feared if you’re doing the right thing.” It comes back to having the confidence to make the call about what is in the client’s best interests, James added. She said that if brokers chose something on rate but the customer was going to lose their deposit the following week, would that really be in their best interest? If the loans are like for like, the cheaper product is probably right, but James said it was not always that simple. “As we’ve talked about today, lending is not black and white, in fact it’s not even grey; it’s all sorts of colour rainbows in the middle,” she said. “As businesses we’re there to support you in understanding what information you need to really be clear that you’re making the right judgment call, that you’re choosing something based on policy or service and is that appropriate, and then how do you make your notes around that? As opposed to guessing from a computer program that’s letting you know you’ve got a choice of this, this and this. There’s a lot more depth to it.”

We’re all becoming more reliant on technology. What are you offering brokers to help make their jobs easier? The topic of technology naturally came up during the hour-long discussion, but as several brokers had also asked about what innovations the non-banks were bringing to the table, we turned to the topic again. Aside from the well-known offerings like digital identification, e-signatures and

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online platforms, Mohnacheff pointed out that what the panellists were doing there and then, meeting in a virtual environment, was a sign of how everyone has been forced into a digital world. COVID-19 has brought faster change to technology and the way brokers conduct business than would have been seen otherwise, but he added that he was not sure how much more digitisation could be brought in without taking away the human element. Using technology to speed up processes is a given for all lenders at the moment, but Mohnacheff warned about taking it too far. “I don’t think most people, when we’re making a big financial decision, are all that comfortable just to rely on a conversation with a machine without having some reassurance about, have I made the right decision here, do I know all my options, am I aware of all my opportunities?” he said. “We have to be very careful that we don’t push too far into the digital world and push customers away. I think what we need to do is find the right balance between the human

TOP 5 REASONS BROKERS WOULD PICK A NON-BANK LENDER OVER A BANK

Takes a wider view than customer's credit score

26%

Banks have tightened their credit policies

25%

More personalised services

13%

Regulatory changes have prevented client from going to the bank (ie investors)

10%

Faster turnaround times

7% Source: MPA Brokers on Non-Banks survey 2020

“It’s all pretty much run of the mill now what we can do on the loan processing side, but using technology to become borderless has been great” Cory Bannister, La Trobe Financial interface and machine assistance. “We’ve all said we are here to support person-to-person. But the new norm is here, and what we’ve created is an opportunity to do it this way or face-to-face – but we’re still looking at the faces; we’re not just listening to voices. So I think there’s probably enough change already without thrusting more change until we’ve become comfortable in this new environment.” The sudden thrust into a mostly digital environment has actually benefited brokers and businesses, Bannister added. With the border closures and lockdowns, he says technology has “fast-tracked businesses’

ability to become borderless”. He said he had already heard of brokers being able to expand beyond their usual patches using tools like Zoom to reach customers and referral partners, and pointed out that it was the same for non-banks. “It’s a real boon for us in the non-bank financial institution space because we don’t have the huge marketing budget that a major bank would, or even the size of the sales force,” he said. “It allows us to cover more territory than we’ve ever done before, so I think that’s been a really interesting observation. It’s all pretty much run of the mill now what we can do on

the loan processing side, but using technology to become borderless has been great.” Angus said this was an interesting point and called out Bluestone’s sales team, which had to pivot very quickly from being out on the road doing face-to-face meetings to being inside on phone calls and Zoom meetings. He said technology had allowed for “tremendous efficiencies” in the way nonbanks operate, and brokers would see these lenders’ sales teams continue to leverage technology, but not at the expense of traditional relationships. “They will of course meet face-to-face with brokers at their request; they’ll do everything they’ve done really well historically. I just think you’ll start to feel like the sales teams within these organisations have suddenly grown,” Angus said. “It’s not that they have; they’ve just leveraged technology to be more productive and to cover the needs of more brokers throughout a given period of time.”

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17/11/2020 2:19:08 PM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS 2020

After four years in a row of our Top 100 Brokers seeing dropping loan values, 2020 brought a welcome change. In a financial year that included an unprecedented global pandemic, these brokers faced into the challenges to achieve record-breaking results

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WITH THE figures recorded by this year’s Top 100 you would be forgiven for forgetting that the last financial year ended with restrictions and lockdowns brought on by a worldwide pandemic. Even in those final few months, brokers managed to write the second-highest combined value of loans this list has ever seen. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. Brokers across the board talked about challenges such as the restrictions on face-to-face meetings, managing their teams remotely, lenders changing their policies, and a slow market as people turned to refinancing rather than new purchases. If the theme of last year’s top 10 was the importance of diversification and how it had helped brokers’ businesses, this year’s was on how vital communication and education have been. Borrowers were fearful as no one knew what the future held, many lenders pulled back while others pushed forward, and the government released several measures for different cohorts of society. In short, there was a lot to keep customers updated on. But this was a task the Top 100 took by the horns. While they all ramped up their phone calls and emails over the past year,

some released newsletters, held webinars and recorded podcasts. Despite the low interest in new purchases towards the end of the last financial year, this year’s numbers were helped by the fact that the first half of FY2019/20 saw an incredibly strong market as sentiment improved after the banking royal commission and federal election. As this year’s top brokers reflected on the situation, many said things had really picked up again and they were now busier than they had ever been. While that should set up next year’s Top 100 for great success, let’s focus on 2020. Rather than use total loan value to determine the Top 100, our method was changed last year to allow us to celebrate those brokers who are continuing to improve or who are writing those big-number deals. The ranking is now worked out with a weighted system using total loan value, average loan value, number of loans and loan growth. Thank you to everyone who put themselves forward for the 2020 list, and congratulations to everyone who made it into the Top 100; it’s a great achievement to round off the year.

$10.39bn

$250,178,705

Combined settlement total of the Top 100 Brokers

Total value of residential loans written by 2020’s No. 1 broker

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17/11/2020 11:57:44 AM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

100-75 #91 CLIENT EDUCATION The last year has been a “tale of two halves” for Oxygen Home Loans broker Brett Dickie. At the end of 2019 he was starting to see real strength in the market – and then COVID-19 hit. While his business was impacted, he says it was more to do with the extra work required to get deals across the line than the number of loans coming in. Customer relationships have been crucial. “The end of this year has probably been more important for the client to have the knowledge of someone they could turn to for advice, support and guidance,” he says.

#87 BUSINESS GROWTH Based in Launceston, Tasmania, Up Loans broker Kirsty Dunphey had her life and business “blown apart” this year by COVID-19. Unable to travel the country as she usually does, she had to re-evaluate all the ways she previously did business, but she has still seen great success, as evidenced by 22% growth in loan value from the previous year. “Being home so much, with the general market situation in Tasmania meaning our business has grown substantially, especially in the past three months, we're now just working on the best ways to cope with that increase in volume,” Dunphey says.

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MPA TOP 100 BROKERS: 100-75 State

Total value of residential loans FY20

Total number of residential loans FY20

Secure Finance Services

NSW

$74,700,000

155

James Henwood-White

Ufinancial

VIC

$74,790,942

126

98

Darren Comerford

Mortgage Choice

QLD

$77,322,667

238

97

Daniel Lanna

Findex

NSW

$74,601,243

46

96

Tim Leonard

Mortgage Choice

VIC

$77,251,156

148

95

Steve McLean

Loan Market

QLD

$76,393,642

203

94

Aaron Christie-David

Atelier Wealth

NSW

$78,710,743

144

93

Paul Hixon

Loan Market

QLD

$79,269,805

160

92

Nathan Aird

Universal Mortgage Experts

NSW

$81,181,555

224

91

Brett Dickie

Oxygen Home Loans

NSW

$77,046,391

105

90

Matthew Rose

Aussie Prospect

SA/NT

$75,789,434

173

89

Balpreet Bal

Loan Market

WA

$81,315,084

210

88

Nicholas Jones

Aussie Belmont NSW

NSW/ACT

$79,699,931

177

87

Kirsty Dunphey

Up Loans

TAS

$80,333,000

320

86

Vaughan Fowler

Aussie Cronulla

NSW/ACT

$78,164,626

119

85

Dean Menzies

Cutcher & Neale Finance

NSW

$78,364,165

94

84

Jason Cuerel

Mortgage Innovations

QLD

$84,480,116

206

83

Mario Borg

Mario Borg Strategic Finance

VIC

$77,637,100

112

82

Natalie Tinecheff

Q Mortgage Australia

WA

$77,469,782

107

81

Phil Gallagher

Aussie Belmont NSW

NSW/ACT

$84,087,248

166

80

James Algar

Mortgage Choice

NSW

$79,218,781

135

79

Fane Levy

Shore Financial

NSW

$82,174,200

82

78

Scott Marshall

The Loan Arranger

SA

$89,304,934

312

77

Andrew Mirams

Intuitive Finance

VIC

$88,212,438

138

76

Luke Camilleri

Smartline

NSW

$86,000,000

149

75

Simon Orbell

Smartmove

NSW

$79,297,988

71

Rank

Name

Company

100

Sakib Manzoor

99

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR NEW BROKERS? FANE LEVY, SHORE FINANCIAL: “Knowledge is key; however, customer service is just as important. Making sure you are the master of both will ensure your success as a broker.”

HANK HONG, MORTGAGE PROS: “The big loan writers in this industry have poured sweat, blood and tears to get where they are. They don’t take no for an answer, and they network. They have made mistakes and have lost many deals. It’s a numbers game – just keep punching.”

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WHERE THE POWER LIES House prices in Australian capital cities might be much higher than they were this time last year, but there has been a steady decline since they peaked in May. CoreLogic’s Home Value Index for September 2020 shows that Sydney has seen the biggest yearly increase of 7.7% in house prices. It also saw the second largest drop, behind Melbourne, of house prices quarter-on-quarter, recording a 1.6% decline. Overall, Australia’s capital cities saw a 4.9% annual hike in house prices, with regional prices slightly behind at a 4.3% increase. While the combined capitals saw a 1.5% drop over the quarter to September, combined regional areas saw a 0.5% increase. The spread of brokers across the states in the Top 100 remained fairly similar to what it was last year. As in 2019, the NT is not represented by any brokers in 2020, and there is still only one broker from Tasmania and three from SA. WA sees one more broker on the list this year, despite Perth being the only capital city to report an annual drop in house prices. While just one less broker from Victoria made the list in 2020, the rise in house prices in NSW has seen five more brokers from that state join the Top 100 this year. Usually a quiet territory, the ACT has jumped from two brokers in 2019 to five this year; Canberra saw the second-highest annual increase in house prices, and unlike most other states saw another increase over the quarter to September. Those extra brokers from NSW and the ACT have meant that Queensland’s representation has more than halved in the 2020 list, despite a 3.8% increase in Brisbane house prices.

Western Australia

Northern Territory

4 brokers $445,717

Queensland

0 brokers $398,885

7 brokers $504,902

Sam Carrello Napoleon Finance

Deslie Taylor Mortgage Choice

New South Wales

51 brokers $859,943 Jordan Beh Insight Property Finance

South Australia

3 brokers $449,803 Leon Spadavecchia FINANCIA

No. of brokers1 Median capital city dwelling price, October2

Victoria

29 brokers $666,796

5 brokers $644,581

Mark Davis ALIC

Gerard Tiffen Tiffen & Co

Tasmania

1 broker $489,059

2020 Top Broker

Kirsty Dunphey Up Loans

Number of Top 100 Brokers based on office location. 2 Source: CoreLogic Home Value Index, September 2020. Note: Figures refer to capital city, not entire state.

1

GENDER OF TOP 100

ACT

AGGREGATORS IN TOP 100 LARGEST WHOLESALE AGGREGATORS

Connective

27 AFG

13 Choice Aggregation Services

MAX HARRIS, AZURA FINANCIAL: “Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and cold call leads or referrers. Always provide as much information as possible when presenting bank options; this both educates the client and reflects really well on you as a well-informed broker.”

8 LARGEST FRANCHISES

Mortgage Choice

89% 11% MEN

WOMEN

11 Loan Market

10 Aussie

6

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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

74-40 #74 EMBRACING CHANGE Relationships have been key for Mortgage Choice broker Cameron Price this year as the business has switched to operating remotely. While creating new relationships over the phone or via video calls has presented a small challenge, he says it is one he and the team have embraced. “Most importantly, the relationships with staff, especially my colleagues Nadia Zdravkov and Di Aparo, have allowed us to succeed during a really trying period,” he says. Being based in Melbourne, the brokerage has had to survive primarily on refinances, but Price says this period has allowed him to really evaluate the business and himself as a broker.

#51 ROLLERCOASTER YEAR The pandemic and subsequent slowdown of business has meant the past year has been a testing one for Nuage Finance broker Adam Burstein. Based in WA, he was fortunate enough to not have too many restrictions in his way, but the government relief packages still meant sleepless nights and one of the busiest periods he has ever experienced. The majority of Burstein’s business is made up of first home buyers in the construction market, and he has recently had more referral business from old clients as the market heats up. “The last 12 months have been an absolute rollercoaster in the mortgage broking world,” he says.

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MPA TOP 100 BROKERS 74-40 Rank

Name

Company

State

Total value of residential loans FY20

Total number of residential loans FY20

74

Cameron Price

Mortgage Choice

VIC

$81,170,248

165

73

Scott Durrant

Successful Ways

NSW

$87,250,611

142

72

Amelia Pignone

LendX

NSW

$79,587,000

103

71

Thomas (Jiyun) Tang

AUSUN Finance

VIC

$85,834,071

173

70

Ryan Ewart

Mortgage Choice

NSW

$86,101,177

158

69

Jordan Chantry

Trinity Finance Group

VIC

$88,900,000

171

68

Karen Bashford

South Coast Business & Financial Solutions

NSW

$89,653,374

662

67

Anthony Charles Roddy

Shore Financial

NSW

$84,758,491

111

66

Redom Syed

Confidence Finance

NSW

$86,084,007

229

65

Patrick Bouquiaux

Tiffen & Co

ACT

$88,765,000

232

64

David Thomas

Trilogy Funding

ACT

$94,765,406

287

63

Deanna Ezzy

More Than Mortgages

ACT

$92,275,491

278

62

Daniel Hustwaite

Aqua Financial Services

VIC

$95,164,956

226

61

Hardik Shah

Loan Gallery Finance

VIC

$87,593,458

186

60

Scott Partridge

Mortgage Choice

NSW

$93,697,013

178

59

Ben Hawley

Azura Financial

NSW

$91,364,969

102

58

Adam Bradley

Emerge Finance

QLD

$85,973,688

162

57

Andrew Baker

Port Finance Group

VIC

$90,712,004

117

56

Lee Rosenfeld

Innovative Home Loans

NSW

$87,630,980

101

55

Max Harris

Azura Financial

NSW

$86,688,000

105

54

Kim Horan

Aussie St Marys

NSW / ACT

$93,200,860

222

53

Josh Gilbert

Loan Market

VIC/TAS

$91,829,562

156

52

William Dale

BD Professional Mortgages

QLD

$92,511,040

79

51

Adam Burstein

Nuage Finance

WA

$100,306,537

247

50

Mitesh Dedhia

Think & Grow Finance

VIC

$95,045,535

232

49

Chris Raymond

Unconditional Finance

NSW

$97,945,264

196

48

Toby Edmunds

Loan Market

VIC/TAS

$97,278,622

156

47

George F Fennel

Shore Financial

NSW

$100,803,212

110

46

Andrew Algie

Addisons Advisory Group

NSW

$97,155,881

170

45

Ian Simpson

Smartline

NSW

$94,000,000

138

44

Nick Jacobs

Shore Financial

NSW

$98,000,000

85

43

Paddy O'Sullivan

Mortgage Choice

NSW

$99,381,161

266

42

David Thurmond

Mortgage Choice

VIC

$100,225,592

291

41

David Friend

Tiffen & Co

ACT

$102,020,060

236

40

Josh Egan

Astute Financial Melbourne City South and Gippsland

VIC

$103,558,868

216

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GRAEME HOLM Infinity Group Australia Aggregator: Vow Financial

Total value of residential loans FY20: $169,846,877 Total number of residential loans FY20: 493

Thinking of his business as a “personal trainer for finances”, Infinity Group director Graeme Holm believes his role is not just about facilitating a loan; it also incorporates education on improving finances. Teaching financial literacy on stage with big names like Richard Branson and Grant Cardone, he has also recently developed a 27-module online home study course that teaches families how to search for the best loan, as well as how to structure the loan and manage it. Holm says this type of education has been particularly important this year, and he has noticed that customers have been more vigilant in searching for what they believe is the best deal. He has also seen greater volumes of refinances and first home buyers than ever before. “We have struggled to keep up with volumes, and I have been personally processing loan files after building an amazing team that had started to remove me from the day-to-day lending processing,” Holm says. He believes customer relationships are “pivotal” in uncertain times like these, saying he prefers to refer to both staff and clients as a “financial family”. As for what makes a top broker in 2020, Holm lists three things: experience, applied knowledge and a passion for people. He adds that while there are some amazing brokers, he has come across many “horror stories” and believes the industry could benefit from more education. “I would like to see our educational requirements increase, like the financial planning industry has recently changed. I believe we are a professional service business that should charge for professional services and not just be reliant upon commissions,” he says.

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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

POSITIVE SIGNS After four consecutive years of declines in the total value of home loans written by MPA’s Top 100 Brokers, the figure has finally risen, shooting up by around $1.6bn to $10.39bn. It is the first time it has risen above $10bn since 2016, and only the third time it has ever been above that figure.

Top 100 – Combined value of settlements (left)

Top broker’s total (right)

$11bn

$500m

$10bn

$450m

$9bn

$400m

$8bn

$350m

$7bn

$300m

$6bn

$250m

$5bn

$200m

$4bn

$150m

$3bn

$100m

$2bn

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

$50m

Productivity

MPA’s Top 100 Brokers collectively wrote 21,009 loans this year. While this wasn’t enough to make up for the drop in loans last year, it was an increase of 2,250. The median number of loans written this year was 186.

Median total value

The total median value of residential loans of this year’s Top 100 was $94,905,470, more than $12m above the median value from last year.

Growing values

In 2019, only one broker wrote more than $200m in residential loans; this year, two brokers achieved this – a stark difference from 2018 when two brokers wrote more than $300m each. Almost double the number of brokers wrote above $100m this year, with 41 brokers seeing nine-figure values.

ANALYSIS: 2019/20 IN BROKING Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the figures recorded by this year’s Top 100 are somewhat of an improvement on last year. It might be hard to remember a time before COVID-19 at this point, but the first three quarters of FY2019/20 were actually very strong. At the start of the financial year the market was improving after the outcome of the banking royal commission in February 2019 and the federal election in May. The value of total housing per month peaked in December, having grown by 19% since the start of the financial year. The previous financial year (FY2018/19) had seen months with value lows not experienced since 2013. In last year’s Top 100, brokers voiced their apprehensions about applying for the list, knowing that their values had dropped so significantly. The increase in values in 2020 is reflected in the growth in the value of loans written by this year’s Top 100. With the overall loan value being the second highest the Top 100 have ever recorded, it was clearly a strong year for the industry. It was not just loan values that increased; the number of loans written also shot up. This demonstrates that the values weren’t just an effect of rising house prices but were in fact due to brokers writing more loans.

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Another interesting observation is that two years ago seven of the top 10 brokers saw negative loan growth, last year one broker saw a drop in total loan value – albeit still managing to write the highest value in the list – but in 2020 every broker in the top 10 increased their loan value. In fact, two of these brokers saw loan value growth of 229% and 331% each as businesses drastically altered their approaches and borrower sentiment changed. Many of the same issues remain for brokers as those reported last year, including long turnaround times and changing policies; there are just different reasons for them in 2020. The previous financial year saw similar issues arise off the back of the royal commission and tightening of credit, whereas in the latter half of this financial year they were driven by the banks reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. All of the brokers this year talked about how, as they faced these challenges from lenders, on top of borrower caution and restrictions on face-to-face interaction, they really drilled down on communication and support. Naturally, everyone began introducing digital solutions for meetings and verification, but the top brokers this year also focused on making regular phone calls to clients, with some creating podcasts, webinars and newsletters to improve communication.

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17/11/2020 11:59:09 AM


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SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

16

THAER BURBAR Greenline Home Loans (NSW) Aggregator: Connective

Total value of residential loans FY20: $115,000,000 Total number of residential loans FY20: 248

Having seen almost 50% growth in loan values since the last financial year, director of Greenline Home Loans Thaer Burbar says his success is down to “utter hard work”. The brokerage specialises in different kinds of home, asset finance and commercial loans. Going beyond that, it even has a lending arm of the business offering its own white label product that was launched in August. But customer service is its primary focus, and Burbar says he goes above and beyond for all his customers, no matter the situation. “The importance of my customers is above all else,” he says. Burbar believes word of mouth is the best source of advertising, and a lot of his business comes from referrals. He prides himself on being able to “make miracles happen”, regardless of what box the customer fits into. “Deals that are outside of the box or may be different to the norm are a specialty of mine as well: receiving exemptions for customers that may be a little outside policy, workshopping the deals with my BDMs and helping those customers in need,” he says. Burbar says it is hard work that makes a top broker. Every customer needs a solution or assistance of some kind, and a top broker strives to ensure that solution is found. Beyond that, there are several other factors: industry knowledge, understanding of the different banks and their policies, as well as being able to identify the best fit for a customer. Caring about your customers is also vital. “I genuinely care about all my customers and want to help them achieve all their dreams. That’s why they come to me in the first place, isn’t it?”

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39-11 45-11 #38 HARD RESET One of four brokers in the Top 100 from WA, Napoleon Finance’s Sam Carrello says FY20 started positively. Then COVID-19 hit and “reset everything”. But while business was on hold for a couple of months, it eventually “came back with a vengeance”. Although he doesn’t do a lot of construction lending, Carrello found that the HomeBuilder grants kicked off a lot of interest among first and second home buyers. He has also seen demand, thanks to low rental vacancies, low supply of houses for sale, low interest rates, and people wanting to migrate back to WA.

#20 CUSTOMER FOCUS While Mortgage Choice broker Deslie Taylor has seen sales and stock levels slow down, there have been plenty of transactions, which accounts for her above-average number of loans compared to other brokers in Top 100. Aside from the government incentives encouraging lending for construction, Taylor says her ongoing focus on customer service has attracted more clients than usual, and referrals from her existing database almost doubled in the last six months. In 2020 the brokerage has taken client relationships to a whole new level. “The difference this year has been the degree of education and reassurance people are looking for,” she says. “We have worked hard on delivering specific advice to our clients and prospects on how to financially navigate through the pandemic, which has been extremely well received and beneficial for most.”

MPA TOP 100 BROKERS: 39-11 State

Total value of residential loans FY20

Total number of residential loans FY20

RateOne Home Loans

VIC

$97,984,622

189

Sam Carrello

Napoleon Finance

WA

$101,821,410

216

37

Natasha Choi

The Australian Lending & Investment Centre

VIC

$102,564,234

263

36

Daniel O'Brien

PFS Financial Services

NSW

$116,905,953

296

35

Paul Wright

MoneyQuest Wollongong

NSW

$101,845,546

353

34

Navjeet Matta

Gain Home Loans

NSW

$115,883,774

245

33

Gerard Tiffen

Tiffen & Co

ACT

$123,228,000

382

32

Marvin Coleman

Mortgage Choice

VIC

$102,049,517

220

31

Anthony O'Flynn

IFA Mortgages & Finance

NSW

$111,464,876

334

30

Leon Spadavecchia

FINANCIA

SA

$103,139,399

276

29

Fabio De Castro

Oxygen Home Loans

NSW

$122,039,343

192

= 27

David Steere

Summit Finance Group

VIC

$108,821,257

95

= 27

Tom Hawley

Azura Financial

NSW

$114,679,080

94

26

Stephen Lemm

Mortgage Choice

NSW

$100,317,867

142

25

Hannah Nguyen

Loan Market

VIC/TAS

$105,844,909

226

24

Sze Chuah

MLS Finance

NSW

$120,383,412

380

23

Vishal Gupta

Unique Finance Services

NSW

$124,087,182

145

22

Rajan Khatak

Your Finance Adviser

NSW

$102,600,000

123

21

Kevin Agent

The Australian Lending & Investment Centre

VIC

$130,970,011

321

20

Deslie Taylor

Mortgage Choice

QLD

$129,645,454

372

19

Jacob Decru

Loan Market One Network Broking

VIC/TAS

$111,665,229

243

18

Anthony Alabakov

My Mortgage Freedom

VIC

$121,250,000

179

= 16

Thaer Burbar

Greenline Home Loans

NSW

$115,000,000

248

= 16

Graeme Holm

Infinity Group Australia

NSW

$169,846,877

493

15

Glenn English

Aussie Carnegie

VIC/TAS

$152,099,986

307

14

Daniel Zarkovic

Loan Market

NSW/ACT

$116,448,590

211

13

Hank Hong

Mortgage Pros

NSW

$111,747,859

187

12

Russell Munfaredi

Mortgage Pros

NSW

$154,981,425

186

11

Joel Wyld

Peasy

NSW

$128,207,920

220

Rank

Name

Company

39

Sandeep Boob

38

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17/11/2020 12:01:07 PM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

WOMEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT The number of women making an appearance in the Top 100 this year jumped from nine in 2019 to 11 in 2020. It is still not as many as made the list three years ago, but one woman, Sarah Thomson, has managed to maintain her position in the top 10 two years runnng.

Rank Name

Company

State

Total value of residential loans FY20

Total number of residential loans FY20

8

Sarah Thomson Loan Market Geelong City VIC/TAS

$167,388,253

384

20

Deslie Taylor

$129,645,454

372

25

Hannah Nguyen Loan Market The Australian Lending & Investment Centre Kim Horan Aussie St Marys

37 54 63 68 69 72 82 87

Mortgage Choice

Natasha Choi

QLD VIC/TAS

$105,844,909

226

VIC

$102,564,234

263

NSW/ACT

$93,200,860

222

Deanna Ezzy

ACT

$92,275,491

278

Karen Bashford

NSW

$89,653,374

662

VIC

$88,900,000

171

NSW

$79,587,000

103

More Than Mortgages South Coast Business & Financial Solutions Jordan Chantry Trinity Finance Group

Amelia Pignone LendX Natalie Q Mortgage Australia Tinecheff Kirsty Dunphey Up Loans

WA

$77,469,782

107

TAS

$80,333,000

320

TOP WOMEN Describing the past year as “complete madness”, LendX broker Amelia Pignone says it has been a good reminder of how important strong client and referrer partnerships are. A boutique firm specialising in residential and commercial lending, LendX was established in April 2019 and has grown rapidly ever since. Pignone says being one of 11 women recognised in this year’s Top 100 is her biggest achievement to date. She hopes to be able to show this to her daughters one day. “In turn, I hope it will encourage them to follow their dreams." In an industry dominated by male brokers, Loan Market’s Hannah Nguyen says it is an honour to be one of the 11 women in the Top 100. Having had to balance a young family with two children, she has worked hard to find the right balance between work and family. Over the past year Nguyen has seen a lot of changes but has continued to put clients’ best interests first. “Customer relationships have always been of significant importance to grow the business over long term,” she says.

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10

STEPHEN MCCLATCHIE Loans Australia, Victoria

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $140,943,171 Total number of residential loans FY20: 226

Establishing a niche to work in has been the focus of Loans Australia founder and managing director Stephen McClatchie, who loves working with property investors and business owners. After 25 years of hard work, persistence, continual improvement and building a highperforming team, he says it is fantastic to be recognised by the industry. McClatchie has been involved in broking since 1995, having worked briefly as a broker at Mortgage Choice in its first office before it was franchised. He started out as a financial planner, later adding mortgage broking to his services, and eventually sold his financial planning business in 2002 to focus solely on finance and mortgage broking. This background means he understands the importance of a good finance strategy in creating wealth and reducing debt for his clients. Over the turbulent year that 2020 has been, McClatchie says client relationships have become “more important than ever”. “A major philosophy of mine when implementing a lending strategy is to ensure clients have access to a cash flow buffer if they need it. Many of my clients have been so thankful to have had a buffer in place during the COVID pandemic,” he says. It's the dedication and focus of his experienced team on delivering exceptional customer outcomes that he says helped him achieve the success he did. On top of that, his diverse range of lending and financial knowledge has enabled him to provide standout solutions to clients with complex and diverse property and business portfolios. The large volume of enquiries and the changeable lending policies in relation to COVID-19 made this year a challenging one, particularly with the increase in research required to come up with solutions. “We haven't really overcome this challenge, but as a team we are focused on ensuring that every client receives a great outcome regardless of how long it takes to achieve,” McClatchie says. Reflecting on the past year, he encourages other brokers to not be limited by the resources provided by their aggregators. He uses many services from other providers in his business systems – using social media and Google reviews, collecting client data and making sure his systems are second to none. “These are an additional expense, but the business will reap the benefits over and over in terms of better client and staff experiences,” he says.

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 12:02:20 PM

I T P


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17/11/2020 12:02:36 PM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

9

CHRIS BATES Wealthful, NSW

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $130,016,894 Total number of residential loans FY20: 110

With the highest average loan value of this year’s top 10, Chris Bates has also achieved an incredible 221% loan value growth over the past two years. Coming from a financial advice background, he mainly handles property purchases at Wealthful, and sees a lot of first home buyers and upgraders in particular. During the first half of the financial year, soon after the federal election, the market was strong, and people were buying and transacting, but the pandemic created a lot of uncertainty, and the business had to shift slightly. While first home buyers have been a big part of the market this year, Bates has also had to help clients understand their refinancing options. Aiming for lifelong clients, he strives to become a trusted adviser and takes the time to make sure his clients are doing the right thing. “We’re very passionate around not just providing them with a loan; we do a lot of education around what’s a good property, is this the right decision, and we spend a lot of time upfront talking that through,” he says. “Our relationship is about trying to become that trusted adviser and then never lose them.” This year his clients have required extra support, and Bates says the most important thing has been to make sure they don’t panic and buy a poor property. His passion for educating clients inspired his podcast, The Elephant in the Room. Bates believes the best brokers do more than just facilitate a loan; they focus on educating themselves and their clients. “A top broker is continually learning or reading and has that philosophy, and they can pass that knowledge on to their clients,” he says. “The real top ones in my view take the time to educate people on property. That’s ultimately what they’re using the loan for.” Clients respond well to Bates’ approach, and Wealthful has benefited from referrals. Its six years of growth have also been down to the decision to bring on more team members. For the first four years Bates was a solo operator, but he brought on his business partner two years ago and another team member at the start of 2020, allowing him much more time to deal with clients. “Where things took on a new trajectory is when I got a business partner and other people, so you should do that sooner rather than later because you need that to grow and have more time to help more people,” he advises.

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8

SARAH THOMSON Loan Market, Victoria

Aggregator: Loan Market Total value of residential loans FY20: $167,388,253 Total number of residential loans FY20: 384

Maintaining her title as the only female in the top 10 is Loan Market’s Sarah Thomson. With a 41% increase in loan value from the year before, she puts her success down to the team supporting each other and their clients, as well as their adaptability to working from home. She feels incredibly fortunate and proud to be back in the Top 100, particularly as her team has worked so tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Agility and a positive mindset have been key, she adds. Thomson “fell into” broking by accident after starting out as a photographer. She saw an ad for a job, and while it didn’t say what it was for, she recognised the attitudes and attributes it asked for, so she applied and ended up in finance. “My strengths have always been people and numbers, so broking is a perfect fit,” she says. Working long hours as a broker and travelling long distances to clients’ homes was not sustainable when starting a family, Thomson says. She soon began running her own business from home and then in a shared office space with other brokers, before branching out and opening her own office in Geelong. “Regional Victoria where Geelong is located is a growth area, so I think the location has helped our success,” she says. “But there’s a lot to be said for hiring the right team. A fantastic attitude is paramount, whereas the technical skills you can teach.” Now the business has four brokers mainly dealing with residential lending, including an asset finance specialist and nine support staff. Thomson says taking on four more staff during the lockdown this year was one of the most difficult things she has done, as all the rules for onboarding new staff went out the window. “How do new staff understand the culture and feel part of a team? How do you train? What I was really pleased to see was that the team took on more ownership – they took the lead on meetings and continued that culture of collaboration that was needed to see us through,” she says. The key to being a top broker, Thomson says, is having a strong rapport with clients and doing what you say you’re going to do. “Clients want to be heard and know that you understand what they’re trying to achieve,” she says. “They also want to be educated along the way, which helps assure them and give them comfort in the process. Communication is always key.”

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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7

CULLEN HAYNES Legal Home Loans, NSW

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $125,204,000 Total number of residential loans FY20: 184

Boasting the largest loan value growth in the top 10, Cullen Haynes has a much more unique value proposition than other brokers on this list. Legal Home Loans focuses specifically on lawyers, offering tailored home loans, refinances, commercial finance, asset finance and chambers finance. Haynes joined the brokerage after a finance career at Macquarie, working in its Corporate Asset Finance team. Since its launch in 2018, Legal Home Loans has grown from a team of two to an office of 10 and growing. Saying the MPA Top 100 Brokers achievement was a team effort over which he sits as director of sales, Haynes adds, “I’m very lucky to work with such a driven, intelligent and passionate team. We’re all focused on helping every lawyer at every level.” Because of his very specific client base, Haynes has styled his approach towards customer relationships to suit. “Lawyers, as a demographic, are highly educated, driven and competitive, so during COVID-19 it was essential they were kept up to speed with market opportunities with the drop in housing prices,” he explains. The biggest challenge this year was navigating the growing sales team while working from home, but Haynes says the daily meetings, catch-ups and Friday Zoom parties helped with the stress! His positive mindset has also helped. Reflecting on the past year, Haynes says the biggest insight he can share is that change is certain, but life is not. “The only thing you can count on is your own mindset and perception of the world,” he adds. “So it all starts with a check-up from the neck up and realising that your attitude is contagious, so ensure it’s worth catching!” Haynes says making it into the Top 10 in 2020 is a “humbling and exciting feeling” for the team at Legal Home Loans. “Our focus has always been to help all lawyers self-actualise through finance, so it’s great to know how much of an impact we’re truly making,” he says. Haynes puts his success down to his clients, the drive of the team around him, and their willingness to meet reversals boldly. Considering what makes a top broker, he hails back to his late mentor Jim Rohn, who said: “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.”

6

KIN WONG One Solutions, NSW

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $171,371,000 Total number of residential loans FY20: 257

Being a broker at One Solutions definitely comes with its perks. Providing a truly holistic service, the group not only offers mortgage broking but also has arms in financial planning, accountancy and wellbeing. This is not only a great service for customers but means broker Kin Wong is constantly learning about other areas, and clients keep coming back. Particularly in such an uncertain year when borrowers have been concerned about all aspects of their finances, Wong says it’s been important that all facets of the business have been able to sit down with clients and work through their options. Maintaining his sixth-place position in 2020, Wong has increased both his value and number of loans. While the first half of the financial year saw strong figures, lodgements dropped dramatically in the second, and it became much more about communicating with clients and educating them. “This year we have been calling our clients quite consistently just to see how they are, not just from a financial perspective but from a wellbeing perspective,” Wong says. “Helping them rebudget, getting discounts from energy suppliers, mobile phone deals – little things like that make a big difference.” The team sits down every Friday to phone 20 out of their 3,000 clients to keep connected, and Wong has seen much new business from existing clients and their referrals. He says it's been important to keep staff motivated and focused on what they want to achieve each day. “Instead of yearly goals, divide them into a month and devise a plan for how you achieve them each week and day,” he says. “Once you do that, you’re on top of everything. You have to show motivation and willingness to help a client no matter what their situation is, and do your best. It’s not about looking at whether it’s a $5m loan; every client is the same. As long as your client sees that, your business grows.” Now that the market is settling down, Wong has never been busier. The first quarter of FY21 saw an influx of loan applications, with numbers he hasn’t seen in years. “People are more certain now as to what’s going to happen; their jobs are more secure, so what we’re seeing is people who have got their jobs are starting to restructure their mortgages because of the cheaper rates,” he says.

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 12:03:11 PM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

5

DANIEL GOLD Long Property, Victoria

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $142,052,739 Total number of residential loan FY20: 197

In a huge leap up the ranks of the Top 100, Daniel Gold has made it to number five on this year’s list, up from 70th place last year. Speaking about this achievement, he says he is honoured to be in the top 10, adding that much of his success belongs to the terrific team he has around him. Gold has always been in the finance industry, but in 2018 he set up Long Property after three years at a larger mortgage broking firm. He is joined by Patrick Lynch as his head of operations, Rachel Epstein in client services, and Kim Thuy as his lending analyst. Mainly servicing professionals and self-employed clients in Melbourne and Sydney, Gold specialises in larger, more complex deals, particularly where the clients have high expectations around advice and service. When it comes to looking after those clients, he has always wanted to remain close to every one of them and every deal, from lodgment to settlement and beyond. “This limits the volume of clients we can service; however, it means we can develop deeper and more trusting relationships,” he says. “Our relationships also tend to be longer-term; over 80% of our new business is either from existing clients or existing client referrals now. When clients have needed extra support, we make sure it’s provided to them – more frequent contacts, faster response times, those sorts of things.” Looking at the past year, Gold says lenders have targeted higherquality applications and clients have required higher-quality advice. He has even seen the better-quality properties in good locations hold their ground from a price standpoint, despite the economic challenges. “When you focus on quality it’s a pretty safe bet,” he says. While there have been plenty of business hurdles in the last year, with tightened and changing lender policies, Gold’s biggest challenges have been personal. With his wife working in a big job herself, a three-year-old child and a new baby on the way, and very little family around, it's been difficult to juggle. Praising the support he gets from his wife, Gold says what makes a top broker is having a top spouse or partner. “You really just need great people around you,” he says. “People who share the same vision and also the same values as you. That’s what I’ve always looked for in people and I am fortunate to have found.”

42

4

STEPHEN MICHAELS Catalyst Advisers, NSW

Aggregator: Finsure Total value of residential loans FY20: $157,778,000 Total number of residential loans FY20: 171

Debuting in the Top 100 at number four is an impressive feat for Catalyst Advisers broker Stephen Michaels. He joined the business when it was founded eight years ago, starting out by assisting in preparing applications and providing broker support for overall client service. Now, Catalyst has evolved beyond just mortgage broking into a much larger business with a number of different verticals, including middle market/institutional debt advisory, investment management and direct non-bank lending. They cooperate as a single team, enabling them to provide a wide range of solutions to the same pool of clients. “It’s not unusual for us to be sourcing capital for a client’s business and simultaneously restructuring the business owner’s personal finances,” Michaels says. “Last month our advisory business was engaged by an ASX-listed company to restructure their corporate facility, and I was brought in by the CEO to help refinance his and his management team’s personal mortgages. I don’t think any other brokerage has more to offer in terms of diversification.” While many businesses struggled this year, Catalyst’s business model meant it fared better than others. Michaels focused on doing all he could for his clients, calling his entire loan book and offering assistance with repayment pauses and access to government-backed SME loans, ensuring clients understood the stimulus measures available to them. The business also saw growth in its partnership channel; its B2B referrer base of developers, real estate agents and accountants grew as the credit landscape became more complex. “These referrers all know the difference a good broker can make, so we were able to increase volume without having to advertise or pay away referral fees,” Michaels says. “I’d say the growth of this channel and the ongoing dedication to our existing clients – which accounts for the majority of our volume – were key drivers of success this year.” Michaels says the key lesson he's learnt this year is to accept what you can’t control and get busy on what you can. “Between the royal commission and the pandemic, it’s tempting to focus on a whole bunch of macro factors, but I found it far more effective bringing the strategy back to the job at hand: how do we continue to improve the service we provide to clients? If we look after them, they will look after us,” he says.

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 12:05:10 PM


3

JORDAN BEH Insight Property Finance, NSW

Aggregator: Connective Total value of residential loans FY20: $183,144,845 Total number of residential loan FY20: 307

Despite having being a broker for just three years, Jordan Beh has made great strides, smashing his 2019 loan value with 75% growth this year. This is his third appearance in the Top 100, jumping from 34th in 2018 to fifth position last year and now landing in third place. The Insight Property Finance broker says his achievement is “surreal”; after such a turbulent year he says it is a great milestone for the team and testament to their hard work paying off. Beh started his broking journey as a one-man band during the royal commission after leaving his big four bank job in 2017. Now he has a team of two brokers and multiple support staff. “It was exciting to be able to grow from focusing on doing everything on my own to having people along the journey, finding different ways we could streamline the process,” he says. “Our business is focused on helping people, and we are able to achieve this at a much bigger scale with all of our current members working together.” While 2020 has been a little different to his previous two years as a broker, Beh says his approach to client relationships has never changed. He aims to build long-term relationships with everyone he helps, whether clients or referral partners. Throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns, Insight Property Finance took measures to reprice its entire portfolio to ensure the business could save on interest where possible, and spent time explaining the relief packages available from different lenders to its clients. “To me, it has never been about the number of loans or settlements,” Beh says. “It’s about the people and the extent to which I’m able to help them. Over the last 12 months, it was very much business as usual for us, which is to help every single client find the best possible solution for them that’s tailored to their individual circumstances and goals.” However, Beh and the team at Insight Property Finance did have to adopt digital alternatives to meetings and adapt its processes. “Like all businesses in all different industries, we have amended our internal processes to adapt to the new world we live in, and I’m confident that we are now more efficient and productive than before,” he says. “We are far from overcoming COVID-19; however, it’s been great to see the tremendous amount of measures put in place by the government and lenders in support.”

2

JOSH BARTLETT Mortgage Advice Bureau, Victoria

Aggregator: AFG Total value of residential loans FY20: $208,215,159 Total number of residential loans FY20: 411

Jumping to second place from 21st in 2019, Josh Bartlett has had a busy year. He transferred to Mortgage Advice Bureau in May with a clear intent to grow his team and support their overall goal. The Victoria-based broker and former gym owner puts this year’s success down to that team, saying he doesn’t believe it is about individuals any more. “A broker that writes $200bn did not get there on his own,” he says, adding that Mortgage Advice Bureau was his ticket to advance from leading broker to leading broker firm. Despite the pressures of COVID-19, Bartlett sees the positives. After years of night meetings, being able to speak to clients on video and phone calls throughout the day has increased the time he’s had available to spend with customers. He has also seen the attitudes of both clients and referral partners change for the better. Previously, clients would turn up without the right documents, but this year that has changed. “Because our service is free, many customers undervalued our role, whereas this year it’s really stopped a lot of people from shopping, and it’s allowed us to talk to the right people at the right time,” he says, adding that partners like real estate agents are also seeing the value of referring their clients to brokers who understand the market. But while aspects of the broker’s role have become easier, Bartlett says it’s become more challenging in other ways. Banks changed policies weekly and came up with new systems, the government introduced JobKeeper and JobSeeker, and turnaround times have been a big problem. This means effective communication has never been more important. Bartlett is on the phone all the time with his clients and his team as he adapts to non-face-to-face relationships. It goes beyond simply checking in, although he says that’s important too. He focuses a lot on education and making sure referral partners know what they can do, ensuring his team are across all the changes and clients are aware of their options. It’s no surprise, then, that a top broker needs to have energy, he says. “You need to manage your energy, believe in what you do and have confidence when you’re talking to clients. People need to trust someone who knows what they’re doing.” Now well into the next financial year and fast approaching 2021, Bartlett says says his goal is to help his team grow.

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 12:03:34 PM


SPECIAL REPORT

TOP 100 BROKERS

MARK DAVIS

The Australian Lending & Investment Centre Melbourne, Victoria After a tough year both in broking and personally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, winning the number-one broker spot was like “a light at the end of the tunnel” for Mark Davis. While being in lockdown, particularly to the extremes that Victoria has seen, The Australian Lending & Investment Centre principal says it has been important to remain goal-oriented – and with 14% growth in his loan value since the last financial year, that has clearly worked for him.

Aggregator

Connective

Total value of residential loans FY20

$250,178,705

Number of residential loans FY20

816

44

“I have always strived to be better tomorrow than today, and luckily have kept that attitude now for 11 years” Davis's success over a year that saw so much upheaval was down to staying true to his beliefs, working 80-hour days, communicating with ALIC’s 4,500 clients, and “pushing hard”. He also praises his team, including business partner Kevin Agent and managing director Nate Fosnaugh. “I have always strived to be better tomorrow than today, and luckily have kept that attitude now for 11 years,” he says. According to Davis, there are several things that make a top broker, including having a strong work ethic, a focused niche and dedicated, hard-working staff, and being someone who is able to cut through banking red tape. He says it is also important to be customer focused. Communicating with his clients has been particularly important over the past few months. He has reached out to each one individually to make sure they know the team at ALIC is there for them, and to understand their individual positions during the pandemic. “A loan is always the result of doing the right things and being ethical. We have made sure that over the last eight months this approach has been held in

the highest regard for every one of our clients and conversations,” Davis says. “It’s not always about lending money; in some cases it’s the opposite and about protecting the client for the longer-term goals.” Despite the incredible numbers Davis wrote in FY20, he faced the same challenges as everyone else. Having to wonder where sales would come from and how the brokerage would cover $3m in overheads during an uncertain market, on top of training staff while working out of the office, caused the team a lot of anxiety. In overcoming those challenges, he said he knew he just had to work harder. “Rightly or wrongly, it’s been my/our default for 20 years: outwork everyone else, do it correctly and ethically, and the results will look after themselves with a few adjustments here and there,” Davis says. On a more positive note, he says the industry has been thriving since the royal commission and the election in 2019, calling out industry players like Mark Haron, Mike Felton and Mark Bouris, who have “kept the industry alive”. “Every one of the 16,000 brokers and 25,000 staff should be grateful to those people who did everything possible to ensure the commissioner’s wishes were not implemented,” he says. “That would have demolished competition and assisted the larger players incredibly, which in turn was never going to be a good consumer outcome and affected what we do each and every day for our clients as responsible credit providers.”

www.mpamagazine.com.au

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17/11/2020 12:06:14 PM

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11/09/2020 5:32 17/11/2020 12:06:40 PMpm


FEATURES

SECTOR FOCUS: DIVERSIFICATION

Diversifying the future of your brokerage Diversification remains a key consideration for brokers across Australia. But is it right for your brokerage? MPA talks to three leading voices in the field to get their insights AS THE mortgage market in Australia continues to evolve, many brokers are recognising the increasing benefits of diversifying their businesses. Perhaps the most obvious is that diversification acts as insulation against the vagaries of the market; the commercial and residential markets tend to follow different cycles, and a lull in one can mean a boom in the other. Being able to provide a broader palette of financial services enables a broker to better service their clients, turning their brokerage into something of a one-stop shop while also enhancing their own earning potential. For some brokers this means embracing commercial; for others it means a shift towards residential, or perhaps to entirely new areas of finance.

Why – and should I – diversify? Cameron Poolman, CEO of OnDeck Australia, points out that a broker’s business is often a key personal investment, and to ensure it retains its value in the years to come, diversification will remain important, especially in light of the recommendations made by the

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banking royal commission in early 2019. “Commissioner Hayne made recommendations which, if enacted, would have jeopardised the value of many brokers’ businesses,” says Poolman. “This highlighted the need to diversify,

Secondly, get involved in the local SME community, and work every opportunity that comes into your sales pipeline. Last but not least, never lose your focus on great service. When a broker is seen to be delivering fast, efficient service, it goes a long way towards

“With so many people having to adapt, they will be looking to their broker to convey their needs and wants to the finance provider” Peter Vala, Thinktank and commercial lending is an obvious choice.” Poolman doesn’t believe there’s a one-sizefits-all approach to broking success, but he says there are three key considerations. “First of all, set realistic goals around acquiring SME customers,” he says. “Social media is a powerful marketing force, but think about where small businesses are most likely to be – Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn – then focus on those platforms.

building loyal customers and referrals.” Aarti Mason, senior manager, intermediaries at Heartland Seniors Finance, points to demographic reasons for diversification as well. Australian life expectancy is ranked among the highest in the world, and more and more Australians are spending longer in retirement. With this steady growth in the aging population, combined with their increased indebtedness and equity on

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entering retirement, plus stringent lending obligations for older customers looking for a traditional home loan, it is difficult for those aged 60 or older to consolidate debt, modify or upgrade their home or vehicle, or just afford a comfortable retirement, which cannot be done on the Age Pension alone. “An equity release product such as a reverse mortgage can offer a tailored solution to older customers and keep a broker’s portfolio diversified, providing full service to your customer and potentially their older family members,” says Mason. “Additionally, a reverse mortgage gives customers financial freedom to release equity in their home without having to sell.” Peter Vala, general manager – partner­ ships and distribution at Thinktank, believes the challenges of 2020 have strongly highlighted the benefits of diversification. “It’s been a time when protecting the business, as much as growing it, has been critical,” says Vala. “Diversification helps you achieve both by spreading the risk of income from a particular market segment. It helps attract new customers and referral partners and generates additional revenue sources.” Rather than all income being generated by home loans, for example, having other sources such as commercial property, personal loans and asset finance can shore up and strengthen a broker’s business, Vala explains. “A wider offering of products and services is greater motivation for a customer to return to the originating broker to meet new financial needs,” he says.

HUGE GROWTH IN DIVERSIFICATION

,

The number of mortgage brokers also writing commercial loans is rising fast.

4,500

4,486

4,000 3,500

3,668 3,617

3,481

3,670

3,000 2,932 2,500

2,647 2,374

2,000 1,500

1,673 1,641

1,000 500 0

Apr 15Sep 15

Oct 15- Apr 16- Oct 16Mar 16 Sep 16 Mar 17

Apr 17Sep 17

Oct 17Mar 18

Apr 18- Oct 18- Apr 19- Oct 19Sep 18 Mar 19 Sep 19 Mar 20 Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service 10th Edition

“We encourage our brokers to have the hard conversations at the start to ensure a smooth application process” Aarti Mason, Heartland Seniors Finance

Staying up to speed Having the right tools and keeping up to speed with new products is also critical for brokers. Mason points to reverse mortgages as an example. “A reverse mortgage is arguably one of the most heavily regulated consumer finance products. Therefore, we offer our brokers

specialised training and coaching on our product and policies, with our dedicated broker support team available to assist at any stage,” Mason says. “To increase the depth of knowledge in our broker network, we hold regular information webinars on product, policy and how to deal

with the seniors market, to help enrich our brokers with relevant information that they can utilise to diversify their portfolio through writing reverse mortgages.” But how does the client benefit from broker diversification? After all, to be worthwhile, an expansion of services needs to provide

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FEATURES

SECTOR FOCUS: DIVERSIFICATION

broader benefits for clients as well as brokers. “From your client’s perspective,” Poolman explains, “it’s both reassuring and convenient to turn to the same broker who arranged their home loan when they are seeking business finance.” The broker, he notes, is already familiar with the client’s background, which saves time during the data-gathering process. Diversifying into commercial finance cements the broker as a ‘one-stop shop’ that the client can turn to for all their financing needs. “By serving the holistic needs of each client, brokers are more likely to experience repeat business and referral growth,” says Poolman. In a time of instability, Vala says customers need relationships they can rely upon and trust. If brokers can fulfil all the needs of their existing customers, they’ll be in a strong position to solidify the relationship for the long term and become a valued advocate for the customer in the process. “With so many people having to adapt, they will be looking to their broker to convey their needs and wants to the finance provider,” says Vala. “The last thing they want to do is to have to start up a new relationship with a broker because their existing one doesn’t offer the diversified solutions they require.”

Starting the diversification process Vala sees the first step to diversification as looking at your existing clients to identify those who are self-employed. “Once you’ve done that, you can conduct a review with them to analyse their needs and wants for themselves and their business over the next 12–24 months, to see where you can assist,” he explains. “Suggesting an introduction to the client’s financial partners – such as planners, accountants or commercial real estate agents – is also a great idea. It shows initiative and a commitment to all of you working closely together for the customer’s benefit.” Vala also sees it as a matter of scale when

“When a broker is seen to be delivering fast, efficient service, it goes a long way towards building loyal customers and referrals” Cameron Poolman, OnDeck Australia taking your first steps towards diversification. “Our main advice is to start with smaller loans and gradually build your knowledge and experience from there,” he says. “For example, concentrate on one product initially, like a commercial property loan, and then move to SMSF, asset finance and so on.” Mason sees the most critical aspect of diversifying into an equity release product as ensuring that reasonable enquiries have been made into the customer’s financial situation. While the lending criteria for reverse mortgages does not look at income, expenses, assets and liabilities in the same way as a standard home loan, it is critical to ensure the impact of the loan on the customer’s future financial needs, including aged care and any planned bequeathments, and the impact of the loan on Centrelink entitlements. “We encourage our brokers to have the hard conversations at the start to ensure a smooth application process,” says Mason. “Our dynamic and knowledgeable team are also available to assist brokers with any queries at every step of the way.” Ultimately, Poolman believes brokers are well placed to nurture the trust of residential clients, with the promise of recommending the loan best suited to their individual needs. “The same applies with business lending, so it’s critical for brokers to partner with a lender that understands SME financing needs,” he says. “But don’t be afraid to experiment either. Yes, we are in a changed world where some businesses are doing it tough while others are forging ahead, but there is plenty of opportunity right on your doorstep.”

SME NEEDS CREATE BROKER OPPORTUNITIES

69%

of SMEs reported a decline in revenue due to COVID-19*

41%

of SMEs reported higher revenues in September 2020 than in August

37%

of SMEs expected revenues to increase over the next four weeks*

15%

of SMEs were hiring, an increase from 12% two weeks earlier* * As at 11 October 2020. Source: ACA Research SME Sentiment Tracker, 23 October 2020

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020

A NEW WAY TO CELEBRATE The Australian Mortgage Awards went virtual this year to continue the tradition of celebrating excellence IT’S BEEN a challenging year for the mortgage sector, to say the least – so there’s never been a better time to celebrate the mortgage professionals and organisations that have continued to thrive during such turbulent times. That’s why 16 October marked the occasion of the 19th annual Australian Mortgage Awards – revamped in 2020 as a virtual event bringing all the excitement of an awards ceremony directly to the people who make this industry great. Hosted by Lawrence Mooney, this year’s AMAs looked quite different to the usual black-tie gala that has become such an iconic event on the industry calendar. In addition to the announcement of the award winners, the virtual event also had an educational component – a series of panel discussions featuring the 2020 finalists, who shared their strategies for success and best business-building tips. While the venue may have changed from ballroom to living room, this year’s AMAs remained as competitive as ever, with the nation’s finest jostling for pole position in 30 prestigious award categories following a rigorous nomination and selection process. The quality of talent on display was as exceptional as ever, and we’d like to extend huge congratulations to our winners and finalists as well as a massive thank-you to everyone who tuned in to the live broadcast and all our wonderful sponsors. Keep reading to find out who this year’s big winners were.

EVENT PARTNER

AWARD SPONSORS

BROKER

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EVENT PARTNER

WELCOME FROM THE EVENT PARTNER 2020 marks the 11th year of Westpac’s partnership with the Australian Mortgage Awards. Although the year so far has witnessed extraordinary times, Australians have been through ups and downs before and will, like they always do, get through together. From catastrophic bushfires to a global pandemic that’s changing the way we live and work, the broker community has continued to demonstrate its ability to adapt to the changing operating environment and help customers with their homeownership needs. We’re just as committed to helping more Australians into their homes today, and into the future, as we always have been. Australians value the choice and independence mortgage brokers provide, and this is something to celebrate together at this year’s AMAs. The third party distribution channel continues to contribute strongly to the growth of the Westpac Home Lending Portfolio and is testament to the strong and sustainable relationships we have built with brokers. The broker channel is a priority for us, and in a volatile environment we know we need to embrace change and continue to improve the experience that brokers and customers receive from Westpac. Congratulations to all the award winners – you should be extremely proud of your achievements during a particularly tough and unprecedented time. Although this year we are unable to celebrate with you in person, your hard work and dedication to service set an example that will ensure mortgage broking will continue to go from strength to strength.

Warren Shaw Head of mortgage broker distribution, Westpac Group

SUPPORTING PUBLICATIONS

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 LA TROBE BROKER OF THE YEAR – COMMERCIAL This award recognises the best broker who specialises in commercial real estate, investment finance, SME/debtor finance, asset and leasing finance.

AWARD SPONSOR

FBAA BROKER OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT This award recognises the best broker in an independent business. GOLD WINNER Kris Menon Origin Finance

GOLD WINNER Greg Pierlot The 500 Group

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

With more than $11bn in AUM, La Trobe Financial is the longeststanding non-bank in Australia. Since 1952, La Trobe Financial has serviced clients whose financial requirements are not adequately met by the traditional banking sector. We also have one of the broadest product ranges in the market, offering a finance solution for every life cycle. For more information, visit

Andrew Soo GM Capital Solutions

latrobefinancial.com.au

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Daniel Dusevic Experity Capital Fane Levy Shore Financial

George Karam BF Money

Josh Bartlett Mortgage Advice Bureau

John Encina Experity Capital

Josh Egan Astute Melbourne City South and Gippsland

Melissa Aschroft AAA Mortgages

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EVENT PARTNER

AR

PEPPER MONEY BROKER OF THE YEAR – SPECIALIST LENDING AWARD SPONSOR

This award recognises the best broker that provides specialist lending as part of their overall offering.

AWARD SPONSOR

GOLD WINNER Mhairi MacLeod Astute Ability Group The Finance Brokers Association of Australia Limited (FBAA) was established in 1993 and is respected as the leading professional association for finance and mortgage brokers in Australia, with its leadership recognised internationally. The FBAA not only insists on the highest levels of professionalism, ethics and standards from its members, but is also the industry association of choice for finance professionals. The FBAA philosophically stands to support your business needs as well as your mental health and leads the advocacy to government for the industry, ensuring that brokers’ rights and future are preserved and well protected.

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Mitchell Boulden Jennings Mortgages Ray Ethell Non Conforming Loans

As Australia’s number-one alternative lender, we live our mission: to help you succeed. Since 2000, we’ve been providing a variety of home loan solutions, including some the banks won’t. We also provide car loans, personal loans, loans for professional equipment, and commercial loans. Our goal is to provide you with first-class service and innovative products to help cater to the needs of your clients who are unable to meet the lending criteria of traditional lenders and mortgage insurers. For more information, visit pepper.com.au

Michael Hughson Arthurmac

For more information, visit fbaa.com.au

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 BROKER OF THE YEAR – PRODUCTIVITY

BROKER OF THE YEAR – REGIONAL

MFAA YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR – FRANCHISE

This award recognises the best broker based on productivity improvements through increased office efficiencies and quality submissions.

This award recognises the best broker based in and deriving the majority of their income from a regional area (outside of major capital cities).

This award recognises the best broker aged 35 or under (as at 1 July 2019) who has less than two years’ experience. To be eligible, nominees must have been accredited as a broker on or after 1 April 2017.

GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Josh Bartlett Mortgage Advice Bureau

Mhairi MacLeod Astute Ability Group

GOLD WINNER Katie Dowton Mortgage Choice

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Prakash Rai Home Loan Experts

Kaia Hunter Mortgage Choice Buderim

Robert Simpson Loan Market

Paul Wright MoneyQuest Wollongong

Stephen McClatchie Loans Australia

Robert Simpson Loan Market

EXCELLENCE AWARD Brian Lowe Aussie Home Loans Taigum

Vivienne Than Home Loan Experts

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EVENT PARTNER

ADELAIDE BANK YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT

E AWARD SPONSOR

This award recognises the best broker aged 35 or under (as at 1 July 2019) who has less than two years’ experience. To be eligible, nominees must have been accredited as a broker on or after 1 April 2017.

AWARD SPONSOR

GOLD WINNER The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) is the peak national industry body for professional finance brokers, lenders, aggregators and service providers. Established in 1982, the MFAA represents over 13,500 members and contributes to a healthy, competitive mortgage and finance industry through advocacy, education and business-building support. Our finance brokers operate within a professional Code of Practice that supports the alignment of the retail mortgage market with consumer trust and confidence. Together with our members, we work with the industry, regulators and government to assist our members to match consumers with mortgage or financing outcomes that meet their individual financial objectives.

Thomas Morison Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Andrew Loucas Loan Base Evelyn Clark Accession Finance Mohit Lal Pradhan Home Loan Experts

As a lender solely dedicated to third party distribution, we’re renowned for going out of our way to support brokers. While the way we do things has certainly progressed over time, who we are, and what we stand for, remains unchanged. Competitive pricing and smart products are just one part of the Adelaide Bank experience. It’s the people element that makes our business special and our personal approach that sets us apart. We have the strength of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, a top 60 ASX company, behind us and a history of over 150 years. We look forward to continuing our support of the industry and providing an even more compelling case for you to do business with us. For more information, visit adelaidebank.com.au

For more information, visit mfaa.com.au

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – DIVERSIFICATION This award recognises the brokerage that has implemented the most effective diversification business model. Nominations are open to all independent and franchise brokerages, regardless of whether the business is a small operation providing a compact diversification offering or a larger business that has a range of specialists (financial planners, accountants, mortgage brokers) all operating under one brand. GOLD WINNER TM Finance Group

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Astute Melbourne City South and Gippsland Finance Made Easy Infinity Group Australia

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BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (1–5 STAFF) This award recognises the best brokerage operation with 1–5 staff (or full-time equivalents). The number of staff includes all loan writers and support staff across all company offices/branches.

FEATURED WINNER

TM FINANCE GROUP At TM Finance Group, we specialise in commercial, SMSF, equipment finance and consumer lending. We continually review and identify gaps in our offering to better understand our clients’ individual needs and see them prosper. Our loan book now includes petrol stations, a rent roll, an organic dairy farm, SMSF properties, shop fit-outs, insurances, loan protection plans, specialised commercial and home and investment properties. People are at the forefront of everything we do. Our business philosophy is “Serious about People, Serious about Finance”, and we mean it. Our success is a collaboration of everything we do; not just product and service offerings, but for the client, how we make them feel, building the relationship, gaining trust and obtaining an outcome that is best suited to the client and their needs. Achieving success in broking is about more than just the types of lending your offer. It’s about the experience you provide to customers, as well as what you contribute to the industry and the community as an organisation. We start by listening – to their story, background, needs, goals and ambitions. Our goal is to provide a tailored lending service directly matching each client’s personal needs and circumstances to the most appropriate lender. One commercial transaction last year took 18 months. We were able to achieve settlement by working closely with the incoming lenders and the client, and by keeping all parties informed and updated at each and every step of the way. Last year our Director, Belinda Gibson, won the Better Business Awards Best Customer Service and was a finalist for Best Finance Broker.

GOLD WINNER Atelier Wealth

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Birdie Wealth Mortgage Advice Bureau Melbourne Zippy Financial Group

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EVENT PARTNER

BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (6–20 STAFF)

COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (>20 STAFF)

This award recognises the best brokerage operation with 6–20 staff (or full-time equivalents). The number of staff includes all loan writers and support staff across all company offices/branches.

This award recognises the best brokerage operation with over 20 staff (or full-time equivalents). The number of staff includes all loan writers and support staff across all company offices/branches.

GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

BF Money

Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors

AWARD SPONSOR

At CommBank, we’re dedicated to improving the financial wellbeing of our customers and communities. We’re focused on supporting our customers every day – from our Home Loan Compassionate Care to Coronavirus Support. That’s why, during these uncertain times, we’re proud to say you can count on CommBank. For more information, visit commbroker.com.au

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Loans Australia

Home Loan Experts

Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory

Oxygen Home Loans

Infinity Group Australia

The Australian Lending & Investment Centre

Time Home Loans

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – REGIONAL This award recognises the best brokerage operation based in a regional area (outside of major capital cities). GOLD WINNER MoneyQuest Wollongong

NEXTGEN.NET NEW BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR This award recognises the best brokerage office or branch that has been in operation for less than two years. To be eligible, a business must have started on or after 1 April 2017. GOLD WINNER Experity Capital

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

AWARD SPONSOR

NextGen.Net Pty Ltd is Australia’s leading technology solution provider to the lending industry, focused on delivering quality products and services to a range of banks, non-bank lenders and brokers. Our objective is to provide smarter solutions for now and what’s next, delivering best-in-class Software as a Service (SaaS) and leading the market in quality management and processing efficiencies. For more information, visit nextgen.net

Go Mortgage Mortgage Choice Nowra

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Ding Financial Ortus Financial Premier Financial Advocates

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EVENT PARTNER

BOQ BROKER BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM AN INDIVIDUAL OFFICE Customer service is an incredibly important measure of any brokerage operation’s long-term sustainability and success. This award recognises the brokerage office or branch that has displayed excellence over the past 12 months in maintaining consistent and sustainable customer service standards.

AWARD SPONSOR

GOLD WINNER

BOQ is one of Australia’s leading regional banks and among the few not owned by one of the big banks. We pride ourselves on long-term relationships and truly personal service, taking the time to really get to know you and our customers.

Time Home Loans

BROKER

For more information, visit boq.com.au

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Mortgage Choice Ormeau Shore Financial Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors Your Finance Adviser

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 MOST EFFECTIVE DIGITAL STRATEGY – BROKERAGE This award recognises the brokerage that has best harnessed digital channels.

This award recognises the best below-the-line (B2B) marketing and advertising campaign conducted by an organisation marketing to mortgage brokers. The winner of this category will have demonstrated the greatest impact on the industry over the last 12 months.

GOLD WINNER Infinity Group Australia

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Loan Base Zippy Financial Group

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BEST INDUSTRY MARKETING CAMPAIGN

FEATURED WINNER INFINITY GROUP AUSTRALIA Infinity Group Australia founders Graeme Holm and Rebecca Walker share a passion for finance and business. Within a year of starting the Infinity Group, Graeme and Rebecca acquired over 250 clients and opened the first of their Sydney offices in Bella Vista. Just a few years later, they turned Infinity into a multi-award-winning business helping thousands of clients pay off their mortgage years in advance and live debt-free using innovative strategies. Graeme, aka Australia’s original Money Mentor, is also an acclaimed financial educator, motivational speaker and author. Since he began his career in finance aged 18, Graeme has been extraordinarily motivated and genuinely passionate about sharing his financial knowledge with ordinary Australians. As the Money Mentor, he now educates and coaches families on how they can reduce debt rapidly and grow their existing asset base to new heights. With a reputation as unique trailblazers and on a mission to change lives financially, Graeme and Infinity are one of the most highly recognised mortgage brokers and financial coaching firms in Australia.

GOLD WINNER Aussie

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Loan Market Group Zippy Financial Group

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EVENT PARTNER

BEST INDUSTRY SERVICE

AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR (UP TO 500 BROKERS)

Industry services play an extremely important role within the mortgage industry. This award recognises the service provider that adds the most value to its customers’ businesses. Eligible service providers include but are not limited to software and technology, legal, compliance, training and education. Lenders and aggregators are not eligible to enter this category.

Aggregators are the most important link between mortgage brokers and lenders. This award recognises the best aggregator with up to 500 brokers. This category is open to both aggregators and subaggregators; 30% weighting is given to the results of the 2020 MPA Brokers on Aggregators survey.

FEATURED WINNER

GOLD WINNER

NATIONAL MORTGAGE BROKERS

National Mortgage Brokers GOLD WINNER Broker Essentials

EXCELLENCE AWARD Liberty Network Services

EXCELLENCE AWARDS HLE Nepal NextGen.Net

For almost 20 years, National Mortgage Brokers (nMB) has provided mortgage brokers with the support they need to succeed and excel. Throughout its history, nMB has enjoyed a stable senior management team, with industry veterans Gerald Foley and Kon Avramidis providing nMB brokers with consistent and experienced leadership and guidance over almost two decades. nMB’s focus is primarily on growing broker businesses – by helping our brokers grow, we create genuine relationships that endure. For our brokers to grow, it is important that we get the important basics right. At nMB, we work hard to consistently pay accurate and on-time commissions, and we are proud to have been recognised with the MPA 2020 Gold Medal for ‘Accurate and On-Time Commission Payments’. The nMB difference is that we are Partnership Driven – we are an aggregator that wants to work with brokers to grow their businesses; we are not just a service/infrastructure provider. As a result, we have a personalised approach and our brokers enjoy high levels of attention and service. We are proud that nMB’s support of our brokers during the challenges of 2020 has allowed them to continue to provide a highquality service to their clients and to manage their operational and staffing challenges whilst continuing to grow (year-on-year growth of 23%) during this period.

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 ONDECK AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR (>500 BROKERS) Aggregators are the most important link between mortgage brokers and lenders. This award recognises the best aggregator with over 500 brokers; 30% weighting is given to the results of the 2020 MPA Brokers on Aggregators survey. GOLD WINNER Loan Market Group

AWARD SPONSOR

BANKWEST BEST AGGREGATOR BDM BDMs are an essential ingredient in the lender-broker relationship. This award recognises the best aggregator BDM. GOLD WINNER

OnDeck is a tech-enabled SME lender that funds small business loans up to $250k in as fast as one business day. Over the past decade, we’ve loaned over US$13bn to 110,000 small businesses globally. We’re all about helping brokers and their SME clients thrive through fair, clear finance with no surprises.

Peter Bryant Vow Financial

For more information, visit ondeck.com.au

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Heather Gallagher Outsource Financial

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Connective

Paul Gollan Finsure Finance & Insurance Zoe Uyen Aussie Home Loans

FAST PLAN Australia

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EVENT PARTNER

AWARD SPONSOR

Bankwest’s heritage spans 125 years, and we’re proud to have been partnering with the broker industry since the 1970s. We have the ambition to be the Best Broker Bank in Australia and will continue to support brokers in the critical role they play in improving customers’ financial wellbeing across Australia.

BEST MAJOR BANK BDM

BEST NON-MAJOR BANK BDM

BDMs are an essential ingredient in the lender-broker relationship. This award recognises the best major bank BDM.

BDMs are an essential ingredient in the lender-broker relationship. This award recognises the best non-major bank BDM.

GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Natalie McCullough CBA

John Loukadellis Macquarie

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Julianne Brown CBA

Anita Fung Bankwest

Linda Oates NAB

Dylan Cole Bank of Melbourne

Sam Tang Westpac

Omar Moussa St. George Bank

For more information, visit bankwest.com.au

Tes Anderson Bankwest

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 MORTGAGE CHOICE BEST NON-BANK BDM BDMs are an essential ingredient in the lender/broker relationship. This award recognises the best non-bank BDM.

AWARD SPONSOR

BANK OF THE YEAR This award recognises the best bank in the mortgage industry based on performance over the past 12 months.

GOLD WINNER

GOLD WINNER

Belinda Gray Bluestone

ING

Mortgage Choice’s nearly three decades of experience gives you the perfect platform to build your career in an industry on the up. Ethics, credibility and trust have been the backbone of our business since day one, while our transparent, community-first approach continues to set us apart.

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Jessica Pringle Pepper Money

For more information, visit mortgagechoice.com.au

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Bankwest St. George Banking Group

John Maxwell Cocalex Holistic Consulting Matthew Hall Liberty Surinder Agnihotri Australian Business Credit

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EVENT PARTNER

LOAN SERVICES TEAM OF THE YEAR

NON-BANK OF THE YEAR This award recognises the best non-bank lender in the mortgage industry based on performance over the past 12 months.

This award recognises the best loan processing and support services team in the mortgage industry based on performance over the past 12 months.

GOLD WINNER GOLD WINNER

Resimac

Bankwest EXCELLENCE AWARD LA TROBE FINANCIAL

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Firstmac La Trobe Financial Liberty Pepper Money

Established in 1952 and with $11bn of assets under management, La Trobe Financial is one of Australia’s leading non-bank financial institutions, specialising in funding and investment solutions. La Trobe Financial has been a proven and trusted investment partner for institutional and retail investors, operating Australia’s largest retail credit fund with $5bn in assets under management and 50,000 retail investors. It is 80% owned by Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms with more than US$584bn of assets under management worldwide. La Trobe Financial has been a leading innovator in the non-bank sector for many years, including pioneering Lite Doc® lending in Australia in 1990, creating the first private reverse mortgage (Seniors Loan™) in 2003, launching the first hybrid wealth management loan product, P2C® (Parent-to-Child), to assist first home buyers in 2013, introducing a unique-to-market aged care finance solution in 2015, and being one of the first lenders to introduce a fully digital KYC and AML checking of borrower applicants for brokers in 2017.

EXCELLENCE AWARD Macquarie

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AUSTRALIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 MOST EFFECTIVE DIGITAL STRATEGY – LENDER

FINTECH LENDER OF THE YEAR

WESTPAC AUSTRALIAN BROKER OF THE YEAR

This award recognises the lender that has best harnessed digital channels to provide brokers with practical, effective and easily accessible facilities to help them with their business.

This award recognises the best technology-based (fintech) lender in the mortgage industry based on performance over the past 12 months.

This award recognises the most outstanding mortgage broker in Australia. The finalists in this category comprise the winners of the individual broker categories. Broker of the Year – Commercial

GOLD WINNER GOLD WINNER

Broker of the Year – Independent

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Broker of the Year – Productivity

Bankwest

Broker of the Year - Regional Broker of the Year – Specialist Lending

GOLD WINNER Mhairi MacLeod Astute Ability Group EXCELLENCE AWARDS

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Resimac

OnDeck

St. George Banking Group

Prospa

Westpac

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EVENT PARTNER

AUSTRALIAN BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR AWARD SPONSOR

This award recognises the most outstanding brokerage operation in Australia. The finalists in this category comprise the winners of the brokerage categories: Brokerage of the Year (1–5 staff ) Brokerage of the Year (6–20 staff )

We are people always helping people. We’re Australia’s first bank. A company built on hard work and the Australian spirit. We have over 200 years of experience proudly supporting Australia. But it’s not the years that count, it’s the perspective we’ve gained. Our experience gives us a deep understanding of what really matters – a human connection born of empathy and support for the people of Australia. Help is deeply embedded in the DNA of this country, and our idea of help grows directly out of this national identity. Help when it matters is what Australians do. It’s always been part of what we do.

Brokerage of the Year (>20 staff ) Brokerage of the Year – Diversification Brokerage of the Year – Regional New Brokerage of the Year

GOLD WINNER Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors

For more information, visit westpac.com.au

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FEATURES

CREATIVITY

Supercharge your creativity Being creative and expressive is important to both professional and personal success. Mykel Dixon explains what you need to do if you’re struggling to find your creative side IN EARLY JANUARY, just as the world first learned about COVID-19, LinkedIn released data from over 20 million job listings posted during the previous year, revealing the five most in-demand skills for 2020. For the second year in a row, creativity ranked number one. Even before the effects of a global pandemic, the value of employees who think and act differently was unparalleled. But creativity isn’t just the most reliable driver of our professional success; it’s essential to our personal fulfilment. Expressing ourselves in our work allows us to connect more meaningfully with both the process and outcome of our effort. In 2016, Adobe conducted a global study called ‘State of Create’ and found that those respondents who identified as ‘creative’ were both happier at work and earned more money (on average, creators make 13% more than non-creators). But igniting our creative spark has never been so complicated. PreCOVID, productivity and efficiency were seen as the main roadblocks to innovative thinking. Now, we’re seeing a new wave of distractions that are dulling our desire to think outside the square. So, how do we supercharge our creativity when we’re stuck inside the same four walls 24 hours a day?

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Diversify your stimuli It was Steve Jobs who said, “Creativity is merely connecting the dots”, and while some might call that a gross oversimplification, leading neuroscientists agree. Our brains are hardwired to absorb, process and blend new information with old memories and experiences. So, if creativity is a naturally occurring process of connecting dots, our primary job is

house. Or if that’s not possible, a different position in your office. Move the furniture, build a stand-up desk or stretch out on the floor. A shift in space will often lead to a change in perspective. 2. Zoom for one more. Join a virtual meeting with a different team. Or a different company. Or better yet, curate a call with a diverse mix of people from multiple

To shake up your self-expression, be brave enough to break your own rules every now and then to collect as many different dots as possible. To fill our lives with a rich palette of interesting influences, we must feed our minds a steady diet of new and novel inspiration, then let our subconscious do the heavy lifting. The more diverse the inputs, the more distinct the outputs. Finding new sources of inspiration might feel harder when we’re locked in our homes, but it’s far from impossible. Here are a few simple ideas to get started.

departments, with varying experience, who are different ages and have had various lengths of tenure at your company. Ask one simple question then sit back and listen. 3. Resist the algorithm. Don’t let Apple or Amazon or Facebook determine your online direction. You’ll keep getting more of what you already know. Push yourself to read books, watch films, listen to music and talk to people who exist outside of what is comfortable or convenient for you.

1. Move it or lose it. Every new workday, try working from a different room in your

Kill your routine Despite our best intentions, many of us have

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originally planned invites the power and providence of serendipity. Creative collisions and spontaneous connections will become more frequent in your work and home life. Finding it hard to kick the routine? Try these simple ideas to start with: 1. Take the scenic route. Lunchtime power walk, quick drive to the supermarket, left your phone in the bedroom? Try taking the long way home. Let the change in scenery work its magic on you. 2. Try an opposites day. Are you an early riser? Then stay up late. Like to run your meetings in the morning? Try them on a week night. Do you always follow the recipe? Then it’s time to go rogue. Put dark chocolate in the bolognese, people! Trust me! 3. Accept one invitation you shouldn’t. Resist the urge to always finish on time, to eat your greens and get enough sleep. Live a little. In the words of Mark Twain, “everything in moderation, including moderation”.

an unhealthy obsession with optimisation. We’re suffocating beneath the weight of our morning, evening, mindfulness and yoga routines. All in the name of better performance. But as Mark Twain famously said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. Or as Paulo Coelho, author of the international bestseller The Alchemist,

noted, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.” To shake up your self-expression, be brave enough to break your own rules every now and then. I’m not saying you should sleep in, cancel all your meetings and bingewatch Netflix all day. But following what fascinates you for longer than you had

Go. Set. Ready. Any artist will tell you that 99% of the magic of creativity happens in practice. It’s in the process of making something that real insight and inspiration begin to emerge. We love the romantic notion that one day a breakthrough idea will descend upon us from the heavens. That once we finish this project, or that online program, or even reading this article, we’ll have the secret to unleashing more creativity in our personal and professional life. The brutal, beautiful truth is, you’ll learn more in five minutes of making than by reading 100 articles like this one. So, on that note, it’s probably best you stop reading and go make something. Anything. Just start.

Mykel Dixon is a musician by trade, gypsy by nature and a prolific anti-perfectionist moonlighting as an award-winning speaker, creative leadership adviser and event curator.

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FEATURES

DIGITAL RELATIONSHIPS

Cultivating strong relationships in the digital age With online meetings having become the norm this year thanks to social distancing restrictions, one of the biggest challenges has been how to forge and maintain relationships. But there are four ways to do this with technology, writes Mark Carter THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, currently on Netflix, is the latest in a string of researched documentaries or studies adding credence to going ‘back to basics’ when it comes to human connection in this digital age. So many industry leaders, co-founders, vice presidents and ethical designers are adding to the numbers voicing concerns over addictions to technology. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, notably expressed personal concern about the platform helping create “tools that are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works”. It’s a telling sign that so many innovators or digital execs minimise their own offspring’s access to tools they have helped create. The digital age is here to stay as we continue racing into the future. It’s the manner in which we choose to use the technology in our hands that helps maintain strong relationships in a hyperconnected, tech-addicted digital age. Following are four ways to do this.

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Subscribe to Australia’s leading publication for the mortgage and finance industry Be the first to access • Interviews with the biggest names in the industry • Iconic special reports and industry rankings like Brokers on Banks, Brokers on Aggregators and Top 100 Brokers • In-depth features to help brokers build their business

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FEATURES

DIGITAL RELATIONSHIPS

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Take off the masks

The first lesson may be learned powerfully from the words of a teenage girl during a seminar I delivered on human behaviour and human connection. ‘Oh, this explains so much! I get it. I was pretending to be really emo [emotional] to land the hot guy. Which I did! But then after a while it didn’t work because, you know, we’re just not that alike.’ Authenticity is a powerful way of inviting

A lack of candour costs a business so much: trust, productivity, innovation, time, everything. The same is true for our personal relationships. They suffer when transparency is sabotaged or subterranean. If someone you truly value has upset you, tell them. Few people have developed their psychic ability to accurately or fully read minds! The digital age seems to breed the antithesis of candour, with phenomena like

A conversation culture, rather than a cut-off one, is better for relationships and the social fabrics of community or adding value into our lives and the lives of others. Pretending for the sake of connection often fuels more heartache or disconnection. Authenticity allows for a healthy stickiness over neediness. Our historical predecessors thousands of years ago might have been lucky to interact with 150 mainstay connections in a lifetime. These days people invest so much time in filtering highlights for highlights; seeking to gain a far greater number from a single social post in the duration of a coffee break. Yet the price is significant. A short-term dopamine fix of surface, shallow or even fake loveliness from a digital collection of every Tom, Dick or Harriet bundled into one happy bucket labelled ‘Friends’ often only serves to pull us away from the gems in this world.

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The biggest dirty little secret

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, describes a common trait seen in the digital age – regardless of whether applied personally or professionally – as “the biggest dirty little secret in business”.

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‘ghosting’ or a ‘cancel culture’ taking off. A conversation culture, rather than a cut-off one, is better for relationships and the social fabrics of community.

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Two common languages

We live in a world of 196 recognised countries and over 7,000 known languages. More than half the world’s population speak the top 10 of these. Yet there remain two common languages we all understand that transcend differences, divisions and geographical boundaries. What’s more, neither of these requires the utterance of words. And no, they are not the languages of SMS or emojis! How often do you ask friends to help you translate these? Kindness and love are languages the deaf can hear, the blind can see and that can bring light to the darkest of spaces. In fact, Robert Waldinger, the current director of perhaps the world’s longest study of adult life and development, shares in his TED Talk (“What makes a good life”) that the secret to a happy life turns out, after all, to be feeling loved and supported.

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The context of quality and quantity

The importance of human connec­ tion minus technology is rooted in scientific reasoning. British anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar stumbled upon a magic number while studying the behaviours of primate groups. Applying the same modelling to our own primate group, the predictions about the size of social circles or relationships that people can realistically maintain turned out to be surprisingly accurate: 150. This number has been prevalent through­out history and is still typical of modern-day social circles: from the average size of the populations of English villages circa the 16th century (160) to the number typical of modern-day social gatherings (wedding invitations, 148, from a study of 18,000 brides) or even the average number of Facebook friends (150–200). Among all your connections, consider how many relationships are truly meaningful or present in your world? Perhaps take note of who your 150 are and invest more in them than in strangers. Our humanity and quality time invested in relationships nourishes their longevity. Embrace and use technology as a great enabler and connector. Perhaps be less concerned about a rush for vanity metrics or popularity. And don’t be so busy rummaging in the digital rocks and stones that you miss the real-life diamonds.

Mark Carter is an international keynote speaker, trainer and coach. He has over 20 years’ experience as a global learning and development professional.

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Zero.

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