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Why this broker is choosing sustainability over growth

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Malavika Santhebennur 5 minute read

Veteran broker Sarah Wells reveals why she’s no longer focusing on growing her business and instead prioritising customer experience.

Ms Wells, who runs her eponymous Perth-based finance company, Sarah Wells, has been in the industry for 23 years, starting out when the broking industry was still in its infancy.

According to the veteran broker, while she had been mainly driven by growth and numbers in the first decades of her career, she is now pulling away from that model.

Speaking to The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast, Ms Wells explained: “You grow, you get recognition, you get reward for it.

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“People really support you in your growth, whether it’s the BDMs, whether it’s the banks, whether it’s your aggregator. And they’re very invested in us growing our businesses and getting bigger each year.”

However, Ms Wells stressed that it can become increasingly difficult to focus on growth as brokers become more established and their brokerages get larger.

According to Ms Wells, over the years, she has scaled up and scaled down her business depending on her vision for growth.

However, as her business prepares for 2021, she said she is planning to “plateau out” and not necessarily seek new business or establish new relationships.

“It really will be in a caretaker and more of a management style of my books and my client base,” Ms Wells said.

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Explaining her reasoning behind this strategy, Ms Wells said that she realised about three years ago that it would not be sustainable to continue growing her business.

“I like the high-touch component. I’ve always liked solving problems and helping people create plans,” she said.

“When I went through quite extended growth in my last couple of years in Sydney, and then also my first couple of years in moving to Perth, I felt that I lost touch with my clients.

“The devil’s in the detail in the work that I do. I found getting scale and putting more support staff between myself and the client was just not something that I was happy with.

“I didn’t enjoy doing what I did. It did mean that I had to shrink my business and build it back and say no to some business, but it’s given me a level of quality and satisfaction in the service I give and the work I do,” she added.

According to Ms Wells, because of her client base, and the clients’ professions, income levels and personal circumstances, Ms Wells’ clients would tend to take some action every three to four years that would require her assistance.

For Ms Wells, being respectful of and maintaining the professional relationships over the decades has benefited her in running her business as she navigates it through her new management strategy.

She concluded that while her volume of business may have plateaued or reduced in the last year, her “quality and integrity” has not – and the BDMs have recognised that.

“Whether I need additional assistance or support to get a deal across the line, I’ve been able to still pick up the phone and talk to those people and they’ve supported me and, in turn, our clients,” she said.

“They’ve delivered that same level of service to them – and sometimes more – rather than it being based on growth and volumes.”

You can listen to the full episode of Elite Broker with Sarah Wells, here:

The month of November marks The Adviser’s Women in Finance month, as we profile some of the leading women in this industry.

As well as the Women in Finance themed magazine, we’ll also be having female-centric podcasts and running profiles and content in the daily bulletin, too.

Make sure you’re subscribed to The Adviser’s bulletin to ensure you never miss a beat and never miss a podcast episode by subscribing to us now on your preferred podcast provider!

[Related: Why Sarah Wells is a solutionist]

Why this broker is choosing sustainability over growth
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

 

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