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Jumping ship for technology

reporter 6 minute read

Recent research has shown that technology is the chief reason why brokers decide to switch aggregators

In last year’s Broker’s Guide on switching aggregators, The Adviser asked whether technology could influence a broker’s decision to move.

Later in the year, that question was answered definitively in The Adviser’s inaugural Switching Aggregators survey.

When asked, ‘What would be the main reason you would leave your current aggregator?’ almost 25 per cent of respondents nominated “poor software/technology”. This put technology concerns above those around commissions, proving that running a broking business is about far more than just remuneration.

Glenn Lees, director of Connective, says The Adviser’s findings are substantiated by the aggregator’s own research.

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“Every year, we complete a satisfaction survey of our members and we just got the results back from that,” he says.

“Our internal research shows us that, of the members who have joined us over the last 18 months, the number one reason [for doing so] has been technology.”

With many aggregation groups competing for the same pool of brokers, it is no surprise therefore that technology is increasingly the area in which the groups are going head to head.

LoanKit’s CEO, Simon Dehne, says the trend for aggregators to compete on the back of their technology offerings is reflective of wider business trends.

“I think our industry and society has a world view that technology is the answer to many of our problems,” Mr Dehne says.

Most aggregators’ offerings tick the boxes, he adds: “Many brokers may be looking for solutions to assist with the need to provide accurate information; to automate/simplify compliance responsibilities; to maintain customer engagement by storing customer data that can be used to market to clients; and to access this all via all the many devices that are flooding our society daily.

“I genuinely think many aggregators’ software [meets] most of their needs.”

The difference between aggregators in terms of technology, according to Mr Dehne, is the extent to which they can show brokers how the software works, and how they can get the most out of it.

“One reason [brokers are looking to switch] is because the aggregator has not done a

good enough job educating their brokers on how the software works or simplifying the user interface so brokers do not need to spend hours learning the system,” he says.

“People are busy and they want an intuitive interface that delivers on what they need for that moment.”

Brendan O’Donnell, managing director of Liberty Network Services, believes the prominence of technology in brokers’ decisions to switch aggregators is easily explained.

“Without technology, you cannot run your business,” he says. “There are many and varied systems in the marketplace, but not all provide the support that brokers need in today’s competitive environment. Simplicity, ease of use and affordability can vary significantly.”

Same same, but different

With so many groups pushing their technology platforms, however, how can a broker know which one is best suited to them and their business?

Mr O’Donnell says it is important for brokers to explore which options are available.

“Many platforms today were built many years ago and have limitations in meeting the requirements of today’s broker,” he says. “It is important to explore the new offerings in the market.”

Brendan Wright, CEO of FAST, says offering a good software platform to brokers is one thing; regularly updating it and keeping brokers informed is just as important, and can makethe difference between good software and great software.

“As technology is constantly evolving and changing, it is important for aggregators to stay ahead of the curve and keep brokers updated with the latest developments, such as tablet compatibility and simplified compliance processes,” he says.

Connective’s Mr Lees says that when brokers are looking to switch aggregators, they need to look at whom the software platform is targeted towards.

“Brokers are looking for usability when it comes to software,” he says. “It has to meet brokers’ requirements, so it has to be broker-centric. It can’t be aggregator-centric.”

Mr Lees believes it is this that differentiates Mercury, Connective’s software offering, from others in the marketplace.

“Connective grew out of a broking business,” he says. “Murray [Lees] and I were brokers. When we started Connective, we wanted an aggregator that was actually concerned about a broker’s business, not the aggregator’s business – and so the software is the key point of interaction for that.

“If you build a good platform that recognises it’s there to service the brokers’ businesses, then that makes a big difference because it changes the whole way you design it.”

Software and your business

LoanKit’s Mr Dehne says software that you can use effectively will help you look more professional – as well as meet your compliance requirements and improve the way you run your business overall.

“Software must improve your productivity,” he says. “It should make you more efficient, professional and informed so you can spend more time building relationships.”

“Technology is a key enabler for any business,” adds FAST’s Mr Wright. “The right technology can empower brokers to run their businesses more efficiently as it allows them more time to deepen existing client relationships and grow their client base.

“Brokers need to ensure the software platform provided by their aggregator is reliable, secure and offers tools that are relevant to enhancing their business.”

KEY STRENGTHS

With so many aggregators actively competing for brokers and using their software platform as their main drawcard, it can be difficult for brokers to make a decision when it comes to switching. Here, some of Australia’s top aggregators talk about the key benefits of their respective platforms

Brendan O’Donnell, Liberty Network Services:

“We were fortunate to be able to build a technology platform post-NCCP and in a world where mobile devices and applications are taking the lead – hence our end-to-end seamless Spark technology platform. It’s a game changer.”

Brendan Wright, FAST:

“The two key benefits of Podium are its Simple Data Entry Tool, a new, easy-to-use data entry tool which simplifies the process and avoids the need to enter data more than once; and Podium Target – Automated Marketing, a new automated marketing tool that significantly improves the productivity and CRM capabilities of brokers, strongly boosting returns from marketing efforts.”

Simon Dehne, LoanKit:

“Our software is cloud-based, so you can access it from any internet device in the world and your data is secure and backed up. It was built by a broker for brokers, so it delivers on what it is supposed to do with no fuss. It just works!”

Glenn Lees, Connective:

“Mercury is really focused on the broker and making the broker responsive to the customer’s needs. It lets the broker control the process in an efficient way. So a lot of it is about efficiency and engendering confidence in your customers by having everything at your fingertips.”

Jumping ship for technology
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