The major brokerage has revealed that it is overhauling its broker and customer-facing tools this year, as it looks to “revolutionise” its systems and processes and recruit more broker store owners.
The CEO of the major brokerage, James Symond, revealed that the brand is undertaking a “deep dive in technological investment” this year as it looks to complement its physical presence in the market with cutting-edge systems.
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr Symond noted that the past two years had seen the mortgage broking industry ride through a rapidly changing regulatory and housing market, but that the tide seemed to have turned to be one of positivity and certainty.
“This is a time where you stick to your strengths and you get back to your basics. An absolutely passionate focus on customer service has to be your number one priority.
“In an industry where everyone has the same product, the same pricing, and all the banks have the same servicing, you have to ask yourself: What’s your point of difference? You have to work out what makes you special versus the next business. Why would customers want to deal with you?
“For us, it’s about making sure that every broker has the right support and the right tools to get that customer across the line in a successful way. For us, it’s about that deeper dive in technology investment to help support their business.”
As such, he said that Aussie was viewing 2020 as a “strong, proactive year” in which it would move forward “with the accelerators firmly pressed”.
Mr Symond revealed that the broking franchise brand would therefore be undertaking a “serious investment” in technology this year (thought to be approximately $20 million) and “absolutely overhaul [its] technology throughout the business, starting with broker and customer-facing tools”, including the ability to accept electronic signatures on loan documents and automated living expenses retrieval.
“This overhaul will be more revolutionary than evolutionary. So the technology investment will be very strong.
“We are looking at overhauling our tech from beginning to end. Everything from as simple as a new website to as deep as significant customer relation management tools for the brokers,” he said.
Mr Symond added that Aussie’s new chief digital officer would be handling the new technology investment and is “going through the whole of the business and unpacking our technology and looking to upgrade all of our tools, from broker, team member and customer”.
It is expected that Aussie brokers will see the new technology systems roll out in the second half of this calendar year.
Aussie on a recruitment push
According to the Aussie CEO, technology is “the right hand of every broker”, adding that he hoped the new systems would help recruit more brokers to the brand.
“Ensuring that brokers are running a financially rewarding and safe business in this high regulatory market is a really important piece.
“In this competitive and changing environment, brokers will come and go to organisations because of their technology; they will join or leave because of their technology. And we realise our technology has to be world-class.
“What we’re building now, and what we’re about to align ourselves with, is a world-class technology player so our brokers will have the right equipment and the right tools to use when they’re sitting in their customers’ homes or with a customer in store,” he said.
Indeed, Mr Symond revealed that the brokerage brand was also on a strong recruitment drive this year and would be looking to expand the number of its stores from 211 to 300 over the next 30 months.
“We’re on an aggressive store expansion program,” he told The Adviser.
“You can’t sell a secret, we need feet on the street. For us, that’s stores.
“We’ve redefined our store proposition and the economics of it all, and we’ve relaunched that to the marketplace. So, we are still very much a face-to-face, belly-to-belly business and get out there and mix with the customers in our local communities, but with the technology project in hand in addition to this, we will be on a pretty aggressive growth plan.”
Noting the recent commentary from CBA CEO Matt Comyn relating to the uncertainty surrounding CBA’s ownership of the brand, Mr Symond emphasised that the brokerage has been “as independent as a subsidiary could be”, with “no shared services with CBA whatsoever”.
He said: “CBA are the ultimate owner of Aussie, but the great news is that they have very much been arm’s length with the running of the Aussie business.
“CBA [is] the first to be smart enough to see that Aussie needs to be left as Aussie, and run as entrepreneurially successful as it always has been.
“We have a higher regulatory oversight, because we’re owned by a big bank. But outside of that, I’d like to think that we are the same entrepreneurial, smart company that we’ve always been.”
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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