Mortgage brokers are the specialists when it comes to helping Australians find the best mortgage to meet their needs. You not only have an in-depth understanding of a client’s financial situation, you also know the intricacies of the ever-changing finance products available at any given time.
Your role is to help people realise their dreams.
But what about protecting those dreams? And ensuring your client has appropriate financial protection in place to maintain the mortgage in the case of accident, illness or death?
Insurance falls down the food-chain
According to the 2013 RaboDirect National Savings and Debt Barometer, 17 per cent of Australians have no savings to fall back on and another 21 per cent have less than a month’s worth on hand – yet it seems the protection part of the dream is often de-prioritised.
This may be down to two reasons. Firstly, while brokers must raise the issue of risk management as part of the mortgage process, they also realise that unless the client is actively engaged on the topic, it can be a difficult one to pursue. And if the mortgage papers are already signed, why push the point?
Secondly, without the expertise of insurance under their belt, insurance can fall into the ‘tick and flick’ category, making mortgage brokers wary of discussing a topic where they may need to refer a client away from their business.
Holistic advice is more than just a good deed
While doing the right thing and providing a comprehensive solution to your client are admirable reasons to offer insurance on top of finance services, there are other, more financially compelling reasons to consider.
As a mortgage broker, you are in the front seat when it comes to helping Australians understand the value in protecting their ability to earn an income or the value of unpaid work at home.
Generally, Australians talk to a mortgage broker at the very beginning, or at key stages of their financial life cycle. Most of us tend to borrow before we begin a savings plan or invest to accumulate wealth, and certainly before we consider any of the other aspects of financial security, like protection and retirement planning.
So if you and your business are in a position to offer holistic risk and financial advice to a client at the beginning of their financial journey, you have a big opportunity to build a relationship based on trust and encourage client loyalty. And this, in turn, will help you increase your revenue stream.
Don’t get left behind
It’s important to remember that other players are already looking to expand their product and service offerings in order to ring fence their clients. The big banks, for example, take every opportunity to talk to their lending customers about their financial planning services, and their financial planning customers about risk, offering them general, life (in all its forms including disability and income protection), accident and sickness insurance.
There is a clear connection between these services and sourcing a mortgage, so at the very least it makes good business sense to think about where there is a strategic fit between your business and your clients’ needs. Particularly in the case of your more successful clients who, while they may come to you for a number of property transactions, may need advice in other areas.
Three options to broaden your horizons
If this is a path you might be keen to travel, there are three options to consider:
1. Become an adviser
While possibly the biggest commitment, this option has potential for the best return. It means rethinking your business model, and the likelihood of further study. To provide risk and other financial advice, you must be RG146 compliant, a qualification which can take time and you may need to continue working while you study at the same time.
Ralph Woods from Woods Financial in Brisbane is a good case in point. Ralph started his business as a mortgage broker but came to realise his clients wanted more from him, namely more financial and risk advice. He made the decision to undertake further education and spent three months completing his RG146 qualification.
Ralph is the first to acknowledge that studying by night and working by day requires perseverance and motivation. But the results in terms of business growth have been well worth his effort. Being able to talk to clients about their bigger financial picture, and offer advice on risk and investment solutions, has led to far more ‘sticky’ client relationships built on trust and the delivery of more holistic solutions
A key point when going down this path is the importance of finding the right licensee partner. In order to legally provide risk and investment advice and sell those products, Ralph needed to align to a dealer group that provided the ‘new kid on the block’ support he was looking for.
His advice to other brokers looking to diversify is to do your homework and make sure there is a meeting of the minds with the dealer group you choose. This will give you confidence that the group will deliver on their promises when it comes to software, systems support and ongoing education. But make sure that you don’t overlook less obvious requirements such as a likeminded adviser network and a supportive and open culture. For long-term success, these things should be top of your checklist as well.
2. Set up a referral arrangement
Referral or joint venture arrangements can be a simpler way of staying at the centre of a client’s financial world, without having to employ lawyers, accountants, planners and risk advisers within your own business. You are effectively creating a team or network of specialists to service your client’s needs.
While it is true this model means continuing to refer outside your business, by partnering only with people you know well and trust implicitly, you can have confidence that your client will receive the same service from your partners as they do from you. And your partners will refer to you in exchange, so that business opportunities flow back and forth.
3. Employ a risk specialist in your business
There is a very close connection between mortgage broking and risk and financial planning. So employing a risk and financial planning specialist within your business is another way of better servicing your clients, without needing to study yourself.
And you can still continue to use referral arrangements for all the other specialists your clients may need, such as lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. Of all of the types of ancillary specialists a client may need, a risk insurance specialist is the one that most closely aligns to mortgage broking.
The bottom line?
Every business is different, and not every mortgage broker will benefit from diversifying into other areas of financial services. However, if you are interested in growing your business by offering your clients more, these options could certainly brighten your horizon.
Craig Parker, general manager, Affinia Financial Advisers
Craig has seen the financial services arena from all sides. Living and breathing banking, lending, planning and insurance for over 20 years, his experience has shaped his straight-up approach to business. Now a bona fide ‘risky’ and the general manager of risk-specialist dealer group Affinia, Craig has a refreshing take on the role of a licensee. A believer in partnerships and collaboration, Craig has big ideas for the evolution of the industry and a solid plan to change the game.
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