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‘The vanilla client doesn’t exist anymore’

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Lucy Dean 4 minute read

There’s no such thing as a “vanilla client” these days, which is why brokers need to work harder to strengthen their customer relationships, according to a Melbourne broker.

Sarah Farrugia is director at SAF Finance and the 2017 winner of Customer Service of the Year – Individual (metro) at The Adviser’s Australian Broking Awards 2017. She told The Adviser her success comes down to a client-centric approach, noting that no two clients are the same and no clients are “basic” anymore.

“Every client has got some different issue that they need to overcome. The vanilla client doesn’t exist anymore. Just to do a small increase for them, there’s a lot of paperwork revolving around something very simple.”

She added that clients are “nearly blind” to industry, government and regulatory machinations that occur behind the scenes and don’t understand why their current bank can’t or won’t help them despite having helped them three months ago.


“It’s up to us [as brokers] to educate the client and the consumer on what’s actually happening and educate them on the changes in the market according to what their situation is.”

A client focus

Working in the broking industry is all about customer service, she said. “If you don’t service your customers, well, you don’t really have a business.”

However Ms Farrugia concedes that she doesn’t have the time to call every single client each month, and so technology is a key aspect in maintaining that client relationship. She uses newsletter software MailChimp, social media, as well as a database management system to keep tabs on her clients, share information and distribute marketing material.

She added that she doesn’t focus on the volume of loans; rather she focuses on the customer “as an individual” and uses that relationship to build leads within the client’s network.


“At the end of the day, I don’t value my business in terms of the numbers I’m transacting, or how thick my book is. If a customer leaves me I’m upset about it, I want to know what I did wrong.”

“I don’t look at it as per how much I’ve written this month and how much commission I’ve made. That doesn’t matter to me – I’m going to make money at the end of the day by doing right by the client and the customer.”

[Related: ‘Delivering value’ the key to a successful social media strategy]

‘The vanilla client doesn’t exist anymore’
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