Recent media scrutiny of broker franchises has sparked a number of questions about the viability of franchise models in the third-party channel. Not all franchise agreements, however, are made equal.
It could easily seem like one franchising model is the norm for all mortgage broking franchises. That’s not the case.
Don’t lock brokers in
At Loan Market, we want brand champions, not brand captives. That’s why years ago when we became a franchise business, we drafted an agreement that made sense for business owners who want to be a part of a brand but also wanted freedom. It’s fair and is an important part of our culture — and the way we choose to do business.
If our franchisees choose to leave, they keep their trail, keep their clients, and there are no exit penalties. That gives someone the freedom to leave if they want to. We strive to create a win-win situation. A place where our business owners can thrive, and when they do, we do.
The trail book is a right to income from clients. So, we believe for best customer outcomes, brokers should be paid trail.
Trail commission enables brokers to provide ongoing service to the client including responding to general queries, discussing interest rate changes, making adjustments for a client’s changes in circumstances, explaining and reinforcing how clients can take advantage of the many complex features of a mortgage — all of which require the broker and their staff to spend time with the client on an ongoing basis.
Proudly family-owned and operated business
As a family-owned and run business, we hold family above everything else. Our network is built on 650 family businesses, so for us, tricky contracts, unrealistic sales targets and lock-in fees just don’t make sense and fit with our family values.
Not being owned by a bank or operating as a listed company means we can move fast. If something isn’t working, or no longer reflects our company values, we can change it. This can be an issue in public companies.
No restrictions on customers
The other big difference is that we have no restraints on where franchisees can trade — there are no territories or “no-go” zones. Particularly with mortgages — more so than most businesses — clients come from referrals, and they can come from anywhere. It’s about customer relationships, and those relationships by definition don’t have territories.
Again, that’s why customer-listening platforms like Loan Market’s Customer Satisfaction Program (measured by a Net Promoter Score) are so critical. You have to be aware of what customers are saying about you because customers are a fundamental source of referrals both now and in the future.
We believe in a strong partnership with business owners
What we believe in at Loan Market is a genuine partnership with business owners.
I believe mortgage brokers are looking for a group that acts more as a partner than an aggregator. They want someone who helps ensure they are complying with legislation and that communicates clearly and confidently about changes that are occurring but who also helps brokers incorporate these changes into their process. They want a high level of support across all business areas and best practice assistance and professional development opportunities.
They want someone to help them evolve their businesses from being mortgage-only to a more diversified business. They see value in businesses that aren’t bank-owned and want to align themselves with aggregators and broking franchises that put customer outcomes first.
With so many changes, a group needs to be able to move together and explore new ways of driving revenue, taking them from transaction providers to trusted advisers. Now more than ever, brokers want to belong to a network that is focused on leadership, customer outcomes, system support, training, education and internal operational expertise to weather this storm and provide a platform for their future success.
These types of things should come from a good franchising structure but without the downside of having to be locked in and restrained.
We want to have a model that has the best of both. Franchising is a good model if it is done right.
I feel our industry is at a stage where everyone is feeling the changes and are experiencing anxiety about the unknown. I think it is a stressful time in the industry and brokers are thinking about all the effort they have put into their businesses and what the future will hold.
We see a bright future for this industry.
We don’t think you should lock people in; we think people should be a part of a network because they want to be there. Business owners who are with a franchise aren’t in business by themselves; they are in business for themselves. They don’t need to go through this stuff alone. There is another way.
Sam White serves as executive chairman of Loan Market Group, a fast-growing financial services company with ambitious yet attainable plans, a unique supportive culture and a passionate team.
Sam believes the key to business success is to establish long-term relationships built on trust, mutual respect and founded on honesty.
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