Brokers should be “thinking of ways of working smarter, not necessarily harder”, a veteran broker has suggested, outlining that brokers will still be needed in an increasingly technological environment.
Speaking on The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast, director of Axton Finance Clint Waters noted that the broking industry has changed over the 16 years that he has been working in it, but that despite there being a huge amount of change, the core value of the broker proposition remains strong.
He added that while technology continues to change the way brokers operate, it is a complementary — rather than disruptive — force.
Mr Waters said: “[The broking sector] has evolved enormously from not being a regulated or licensed environment. That’s changed things enormously and for the better.
“Also, the technology [available to brokers] has just become phenomenal.”
The veteran broker said that Axton Finance was a “big adopter and promoter” of technology, and that his personal take on it was that there was “always opportunity”.
He elaborated: “The environment that we’re in at the moment requires speed and efficiency, and a very large scale. I think that the days of having the idea that you’ll be a single operator broker [working] from home and somehow make that work very effectively... You might be able to write that $2 million-a-month mark, but beyond that the wheels will start falling off.”
Mr Waters continued: “My experience has been that, as you increase your volumes and you increase the amount of business that you’re writing, you need to focus more on what your business systems are, and essentially work out how you can download what’s in your brain into your systems and day-to-day operations and what components of that process can be delegated.
“You can build a perfectly good business and keep your stress levels at a reasonable level without it becoming all-encompassing. And I think that a lot of brokers now are feeling a lot of stress and we should be thinking of ways of working smarter, not necessarily harder.
“I think [technology is] able to manage that in a way that’s not going to cause you having a mental breakdown.”
According to the Victoria-based broker, the digital fact find and the ability to upload documents to apps and send them directly to the broker “enhances the customer experience”. He highlighted how clients appreciate that the documentation process can take 10 minutes on a smartphone, for example.
He said: “I just think that it’s the evolution of professionalism in our industry and clients are becoming much more demanding. They expect that professionalism and you really only get one chance to impress a client; otherwise, they don’t come back.”
Noting that there was a lot of negative media around the finance industry given the ongoing reviews, Mr Waters said that these centred around the “one per centers” rather than being reflective of the whole industry.
He added that he believed “more need to be done” to showcase the “millions of great stories out there that are being achieved by great brokers doing great things”, particularly in regard to the fact that “a broker is a fantastic ally to churn through all this noise and offer credit advice that is specific to you as an individual, in plain English as a person, not as a call centre, not [with] robo advice”.
“The relationships… are such an opportunity in this industry, whereas our major competitors (i.e. big brokerages and the banks) are looking for efficiency through automation, through call centres, through self-help.”
The Axton Finance head continued: “I love using tech, don’t get me wrong, but it gets to a certain point where the client goes: ‘I want to eyeball you. I want to have a meeting, sit down and we’re going to get a pen and paper and we’re going to sketch out what this looks like, and then we’ll go back to using the tech’.
“Because at some point, as much as technology’s an enabler, a personal relationship is the one that matters most. And people liked dealing with people. It’s just the way humans are.”
Mr Waters concluded: “Collectively we’re stronger than individually, and good brokerages are the ones that can offer those sorts of platforms, systems, enhancements to build those relationships further with their clients.”
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