Award-winning broker Chris Appleyard, founder of Kingston Capital Services in Sydney, reveals how he has used innovative technology and a strategic approach to rapidly diversify his business.
Kingston Capital recently won the Achievement in Innovation (Diversification) category at the 2017 PLAN Australia Excellence in Finance Awards. Here, Mr Appleyard shares five top tips for brokers looking to diversify their business successfully in order to stand out and grow in an increasingly competitive industry.
According to Mr Appleyard, a deep understanding of who your clients are and what their needs are is essential to determining how best to expand your service offering.
“If the majority of your clients are small business owners, for example, you’ve likely got a great opportunity in asset finance,” the broker says. “If your clients are largely pay-as-you-go professionals, many of them will need superannuation and insurance, so you could also consider expanding into financial planning.”
The lead corporate adviser says: “I’m a huge advocate of technology, but it’s important to remember that technology is only an enabler. It’s not the solution.”
Instead, Mr Appleyard suggests clearly defining any problems you want to solve and then choosing the best technology to address these issues.
“Our problem was communicating with multiple stakeholders. We fixed that with a tailor-made technology solution from business transaction software firm Rundl.”
The IT system has three key planks: real-time messaging between all parties, with push notifications on smartphone; a workflow component so everyone is kept on track; and a centralised file store that everyone has access to, so no client is asked twice for one document.
Expansion can happen internally, externally or a combination of both, Mr Appleyard says.
Kingston Capital Services began as a corporate advisory business, expanded rapidly into broking services and then added its financial advice arm. After that, it linked up externally with accountants and solicitors via its IT system that facilitates a high level of collaboration between all parties.
“If you diversify out with other professional services and collaborate using tools like mine,” the founder says, “you are opening yourself up to the possibilities within their client base. They will have clients to refer you.”
Mr Appleyard says that it’s important to work with the right people to ensure a consistent delivery of quality service.
He says: “When you are going to put clients, who you’ve worked very hard to get, in front of a member of your staff or an external provider, you want to know that they are a trusted and a good representation of you. At the end of the day, this business is about people, and your staff and partners have to sit there in front of your client and impress them.”
“If you improve communication flow, you’ll receive fewer inbound phone calls from clients wanting updates. This not only improves your efficiencies but increases client and partner satisfaction because everybody knows what is going on as it happens,” Mr Appleyard says.
The company’s Rundl system notifies every stakeholder via smartphone as soon as a new valuation is updated or uploaded.
Mr Appleyard explains: “The client, the broker, the accountant, they all get that update simultaneously. The broker doesn’t need to ring the next day to check. Everyone knows. These are small things, but everyone is happier.”
In today’s broking industry, clients are increasingly demanding to have more of their needs met by one provider. The founder said: “Offering new services is a big selling point, and if we don’t keep up with that trend, the risk is that customers will go elsewhere.”
More than that, diversifying one’s business either internally or externally is a great way to generate cross referrals, boost revenue and smooth income across the ups and downs of each division.
Concluding, the award-winning broker says: “By diversifying wisely, with great people and carefully selected technology, it’s possible to create a smooth and easy journey for clients who can get more of their financial needs looked after with much less effort and duplication by the client and staff — a win-win for all concerned and a successful recipe for repeat business and bottom-line profit growth.”
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