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Better Business Awards 2014

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The Adviser 12 minute read

Covering five states, with some 69 trophies up for grabs, it’s The Adviser's inaugural 2014 Better Business Awards

They came, they saw and some even conquered. This year’s Better Business Awards are being hailed a huge success after recently criss-crossing the nation. An initiative of The Adviser, the evening awards teamed with a day-long conference that drew the cream of each respective state’s broking fraternity.

Conference attendees learned from a host of top speakers, including famed demographer Bernard Salt, real estate guru Tom Panos and tech marketing specialist Steve Sammartino. Panel discussions also tackled prickly industry issues such as technology and diversification.

But it was the evening awards that had everybody talking and brokers looking their finest. The cream of each state’s brokerages fought it out for a range of individual and company awards, including Best Office, Rising Star, Best Newcomer, Best Customer Service, Best Residential Broker and – the top prize of the night – Broker of the Year for each state.


The Adviser received a host of exemplary submissions from across every state. And while metrics were used across a number of categories to help determine the winners, it was a tough task to judge, such were the high calibre of finalists. The Adviser would like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists.

Lastly, events like this don’t just happen, and The Adviser would like to thank NAB Broker, Citi, Pepper, ME Bank, Suncorp Bank, Stargate, ALI Group and Genworth for their support.


A dynamic team of bankers turned brokers proved to be the headline act as the Victorian leg of the Better Business Awards acknowledged the state’s high achievers

What better place to kick off the very first instalment of the Better Business Awards than the super-glitzy Crown Casino in Melbourne. Some 400 attendees from across the state dined, wined and celebrated the best performers in Victoria over the past 12 months. And it proved to be CBD-based The Australian Lending & Investment Centre that showed the way, winning three of the top gongs including Best Broker (Mark Davis), Best Integrated Offering (Mark Davis) and Best Newcomer (Seuj Barua, who was tipped to write $45 million in loans this year).

Commenting at the awards, the company’s managing director, Jason Back, said The Australian Lending & Investment Centre would write $500 million in loans over 2013/2014 and planned to double that to $1 billion in the next three years.


Mr Back added that the company now employed 26 people at its Collins Street offices and expansion to other capitals – namely Sydney and Brisbane – was definitely top of mind. “We know there are extremely competitive markets, but we also love those places from a property perspective,” Mr Back said before adding, “but we’ve got to get our backyard right first.”

As well as the strong performance by The Australian Lending & Investment Centre, several other groups also fared well at the awards. Anthony Alabakov from My Mortgage Freedom scored the award for Best Residential Broker; Loan Gallery for Best New Office; Foster Ramsay Finance for Best Marketing; and Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory for Best Customer Service.

As the awards drew to a close, many delegates – particularly the lucky winners – continued their celebrating into the wee small hours, courtesy of The Crown’s gamut of late-night watering holes.
And attendees who tried their luck at the Crown’s gaming tables – win or lose – were assured absolute anonymity by The Adviser.

New South Wales

One of Australia’s most dynamic and hardworking brokers stole the show as the Better Business Awards rolled into the Harbour City

The cream of NSW’s broking industry donned its finest for the NSW leg of the Better Business Awards, hosted at the uber-plush Sydney Hilton.

Yet, the evening fast became the domain of gun Sydney broker Justin Doobov, who before the night was over managed to claim four trophies for himself and his firm, Intelligent Finance, including the coveted Broker of The Year award.

Interestingly, Mr Doobov later revealed to The Adviser the secret to his business success – extraordinarily long hours. He claimed to work seven days a week, starting at the incomprehensible hour of 3am and going through to 10pm each evening. “A lot of people say, ‘Why do you do that?’” Mr Doobov revealed, “Well, I’ve done four hours of work before most people get out of bed. Is it sustainable? No, but that’s what’s necessary at the present time, and we will do what it takes to assist the client.”

Mr Doobov not only took out the top gong for NSW but he and his team also got to fill the mantelpiece with Best Integrated Offering, Best Independent Office and Best Customer Service.

The evening’s other 10 awards were shared by Alliance Mortgage Solutions, Aussie Home Loans Belmont, Australia Finance House, Connective, Mortgage Choice Newtown, NAB Broker, Oxygen Home Loans, Pink Finance, PLAN2Day Financial Strategies and Shore Financial.

Two exciting industry newcomers were also acknowledged with Awards – Alliance Mortgage Solutions’ Eric Cui took out Best Newcomer, while a very excited Hao Lim from Australia Finance House walked off with a deserved Rising Star award.

South Australia

Proving all the action is not confined to the east coast states, South Australia’s broking fraternity turned out en masse to welcome the awards to town

It was the warmest of welcomes when the Better Business Summit rolled into Adelaide for both conference and awards. Hosted at the luxurious Adelaide Hilton, over 200 of the state’s finest brokers were present as some 12 awards were handed out to deserved brokers and broker groups.
Star of the evening was undoubtedly Wendy Higgins and her team from Mortgage Choice Glenelg East. Ms Higgins not only sauntered off with the coveted Broker of the Year trophy but also snared herself the Best Residential Broker gong too.

The brokerage’s Keith Caine snared the Rising Star and, capping off a top night, Ms Higgins and her team took their fourth award for the evening, winning the Best Branded Office category too. It was a bitter sweet evening for Ms Higgins, who tragically lost her husband on a trekking holiday to Mount Everest last October. She revealed that his death had made her reassess her life but she said she was committed to the franchise.

Revealing the secrets to her success, Ms Higgins put it bluntly – hard work and lots of it. She’d also configured her business to help clients who’d been passed over by the majors. “If all the banks were the same we wouldn’t need brokers,” Ms Higgins argued. “It’s the difficult ones that brokers tend to get and [they] need to put them in a format to get approved. They need to look beyond the square and see how to get the loans through.”

Other winners on the night included James Schulze from Rise High Financial Solutions, who took Best Newcomer; Affirm Financial, who took Best Independent Office; and KeyInvest Lending Services, who won Best Customer Service.

Western Australia

One of the industry’s true rising stars stole the show as the Better Business Summit headed to WA to recognise the best in the west

The exciting and thriving West Australian broking industry pulled on its party best and headed to Perth Crown for the west’s instalment of the Better Business Awards. And it would be hard to argue that the night didn’t belong to newcomer Bianca Patterson of Momentum Wealth in east Perth.

Ms Patterson not only took off with the top prize for the night in Broker of the Year, she also added Best Newcomer to the mantel, while the team at Momentum Wealth took off with the gong for Best Independent Office with less than five brokers.

Speaking at the awards, Ms Patterson revealed she was currently writing around $40 million a year in loans but had ambitious plans – and, arguably, a vindication of the Perth property market – to “be writing $100 million in the next couple of years”.

Like many of this year’s winners, Ms Patterson put her success down to long hours, revealing she regularly puts in between 10 and 12-hour days, six days a week. “It’s pretty basic,” she said of her success, “just hard work. Putting in those extra few hours every day where maybe other people don’t. Maybe I just wanted it a little bit more.”

Other winners on the night included Mortgage Choice Cannington’s principal, Leteisha Pileggi, who was named Rising Star, a year after finishing as runner-up in the Young Broker of the Year ranking with volumes of $82 million. Mortgage Solutions Australia took home two gongs, with Colin Lamb crowned Best Residential Broker and Kristie Byrne named Best Loan Administrator.

House + Home Loans and Rate Detective Finance also claimed two awards, with principal Rael Bricker winning Best Integrated Offering while the overall business was recognised as Best Independent Office with more than five brokers.


It’s fast becoming the hottest property market in Australia, so it was no surprise to see Queensland brokers arrive with big smiles as they flocked to the Brisbane leg of the awards

With the natural disasters that plagued the state recently a distant memory, a property market regarded as undervalued, booming mining and tourist towns, and good immigration numbers from overseas and interstate, delegates to the day’s Better Business Summit were told Queensland brokers could look forward to exciting times.

And that enthusiasm spilled into the evening’s gala awards staged at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Undoubtedly the star of the night was the team from Mortgage Choice Brisbane, led ably from the front by its 28 year-old general manager, Matt Cunliffe.

Mr Cunliffe not only snared the two top-prized gongs in the Broker of the Year and Best Residential Broker categories, his entire CBD-based team also won Best Branded Office and the office’s Karli Martin won Best Newcomer.

Speaking at the awards, Mr Cunliffe revealed he was aiming to personally write $100 million in the next financial year, while the office itself has ambitious plans to add 20 per cent growth year-on-year to its existing $176 million in revenue.

When asked about the secret to his success over the past 12 months, Mr Cunliffe said it was three parts: diverse product offering, client attention, and delegating the small stuff.

“A lot of brokers get comfortable with one or two policies and that’s all they’ll sell, so they miss out on deals,” Mr Cunliffe proffered.

With 12 awards on offer, other winners included My Address Finance for Best Indepent Office and George Farmer from Aussie Bundaberg for the Rising Star award. Fornaro Group Wealth Management at Chermside fared well with two awards – Editor’s Choice and the firm’s Mina Pirrone won Best Loan Administrator.'

Better Business Awards 2014
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