The who's who of the broking industry were out in force at The Adviser's inaugural Australian Broking Awards, writes Jessica Darnbrough
A WORD FROM COMMONWEALTH BANK
THE COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA is proud to be the principal partner of the inaugural Australian Broking Awards. These awards offer our best and brightest more than just industry recognition. They also provide the industry’s elite with a powerful marketing tool that can help generate business opportunities.
But while these awards celebrate the best our industry has to offer, we must also take the time to celebrate the industry itself and congratulate ourselves on how far we have come in the last 15 years.
There is no doubt the industry has evolved dramatically since its inception. When the property market was booming, so was business. But then the GFC hit and forced a reality check upon the entire mortgage broking industry. Today, the third party distribution channel is highly regarded by lenders and home buyers alike.
And while credit growth in housing is at its lowest in 30 years, one thing I have learned over the years is that you can enjoy success in any market – you just have to look after your customer.
The Commonwealth Bank is here to help brokers make the right decisions for both their customers and their businesses. We have long been a supporter of the third party distribution channel and we will continue to support this channel moving forward.
We are honoured to be a market leader and we aim to deliver simple and easy solutions to help brokers build their businesses both now and in the future.
KATHY CUMMINGS, Executive general manager of third party and mobile banking, CBA
JULY SAW the launch of Australia’s first awards exclusively for mortgage and finance brokers.
Held at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal on 15 July, The Adviser’s inaugural Australian Broking Awards, partnered by The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, reflected the evolution of the third party distribution channel and set the benchmark for quality in the industry.
The 400 guests were treated to a lavish three-course meal, catered by Matt Moran’s ARIA, while game show legend Larry Emdur took charge of the day’s proceedings.
In all 16 awards were presented to the industry’s leading brokers and brokerages, with the winners also taking home close to $100,000 in cash and prizes. The Adviser’s group publisher Alex Whitlock said the Awards set a new precedent for the industry.
“The quality of submissions for the awards was outstanding and our judges had a tough job narrowing the field. All of our winners have achieved an outstanding result in an industry that has considerable depth of quality.
“This event was the culmination of months of hard work and it was a fantastic day. We are already looking forward to next year’s event.”
In determining the winners of the 2011 Australian Broking Awards, The Adviser developed a robust methodology that leveraged its extensive distribution capabilities and strong mortgage industry networks.
From hundreds of initial nominations, the field was narrowed to just eight shortlisted finalists for each award category.
These shortlisted finalists were offered the opportunity to produce a detailed submission highlighting business success based on criteria established by The Adviser. These included key business metrics, such as loan volumes and growth indicators, but also criteria specific to each award.
From these shortlisted finalists the field for each category was narrowed down to between three and five finalists based on submission quality and relevance to submission criteria.
Submissions were then assessed by a panel of judges, with the aggregate score used to determine the winner of each award category.
IAN GRAHAM, chief executive officer, QBE LMI
BOB HALL, chief executive officer, Sandstone
BRIAN KNIGHT, national manager sales, Kaplan Professional
DOUG MATHLIN, director, Front Runner Consulting
PETE NEEDHAM, director, Helpwise
CRAIG POOLE, managing director, Syncromesh
MICHAEL ROSENDORFER, partner, Mergers and Integration, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
BRIDGET SAKR, chief commercial officer, Genworth
ALAN SHIELDS, director, RFi
NICOLAI TRUHIN, director, Endorphin
The Adviser thanks the judges for the considerable amount of time they invested into selecting the award winners.
BROKER OF THE YEAR
IN WHAT were hotly contested awards, 1st Street’s Jeremy Fisher was the big winner on the day, taking home the coveted Broker of the Year award and $25,000 in cash and prizes.
According to the judges, Mr Fisher epitomises the new face of broking under the NCCP.
While his residential volumes are among the best in the industry, he has a truly diversified business that generates substantial revenue from non-mortgage products.
Principal partner CBA’s executive general manager, third party and mobile banking Kathy Cummings was on hand to present Mr Fisher with his trophy as well as a $10,000 cheque.
“Jeremy is focused on the client rather than the transaction, and the results his business has achieved speak for themselves,” Ms Cummings said.
Mr Fisher says he was humbled by the win.
“I actually asked Larry Emdur to say a few words on my behalf because I never have any idea what to say at things such as this. But, he politely declined and so here I am,” Mr Fisher joked.
“In all seriousness, I am completely surprised by the win. I feel very privileged to not only take home the award, but also do what I do every day.”
BEST IT PLATFORM
SPONSORED BY RP Data, the Best IT Platform award went to Connective.
According to the judges, Connective offers a focused solution for a mobile workforce of mortgage brokers. Overall, it was ranked highest because of its value-for-money approach.
Connective’s Mark Haron was overwhelmed with the win, saying: “this is the one we wanted”.
“We have had a lot of people join Connective on the back of our IT platform,” he says.
“We made the decision last year to make the move to a cloud-based system and ever since we did that, our technology platform really has gone from strength to strength and our brokers have been the biggest beneficiaries.”
SPONSORED BY Citibank, the Best Marketing award went to Aussie.
According to the judges, Aussie implemented a range of tactical initiatives to support new business conversion and brand development. This included social and broader digital tactics that integrated neatly into their sustained PR strategy.
But despite the company’s achievements to date, Aussie’s general manager of marketing Stuart Tucker said there are still plenty of improvements and enhancements to be made.
“We are seeing more and more people complete their financial transactions online. This is the next area we will look at. We know people want mortgages online and we do not want to be left behind, so this is the next frontier we will look to conquer,” he said.
SPONSORED BY Pepper, the Best Innovator award went to Vow Financial for their ‘My Mortgage Kit’ iApp.
According to the judges, Vow Financial’s digital strategy was unique to the other finalists.
“The ‘My Mortgage Kit’, released onto the Apple Store as a consumer calculator and mortgage information portal to generate leads for their brokers, was market leading,” the comments read.
Vow Financial’s marketing manager Matt Mitchener said the iApp had been very well received by brokers and clients alike.
“We originally set out to create something that would help generate leads for our broker partners. And judging by our own internal feedback as well as the win today, it is clear to see we have achieved that goal.”
BEST ETHICAL /SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAM
WESTPAC’S GENERAL manager of mortgage broker distribution Huw Bough was on hand to present Pink Finance’s Nicole Cannon with the award for Best Ethical/Social Responsibility Program.
According to the judges, Pink Finance’s dedication to the McGrath Foundation is generous and laudable. Ms Cannon currently passes on 10 per cent of her trail commissions to the charity.
But financials aside, the judges also appreciated Ms Cannon’s personal commitment and passion for the charity.
“I love being able to give back to a cause that I am so passionate about,” Ms Cannon said.
“I also love to be able to tell each and every client that they too are helping such a wonderful cause. Every single loan gives back to the charity. And, to me, giving really is the best part about living.”
BEST TRAINING AND EDUCATION
SPONSORED BY NAB Broker, Connective took home the award Best Training and Education.
Mark Haron, principal of Connective, said the aggregator had a good inkling it was going to “take out the title”.
“We offer so much to our brokers in the way of training and education. Not only do we hold numerous professional development days, but we also host other seminars that give our brokers the chance to directly liaise with the lenders they deal with. We have also put a formal program in place that allows brokers to improve their educational standards if they so wish.”
It was this level of diversity in the aggregator’s training and education strategy that really impressed the judges.
According to their comments, the aggregator clearly highlighted the volume, range and diversity of training.
BEST WEB PRESENCE
SPONSORED BY Bankwest, Aussie Home Loans managed to take home the award on the day for Best Web Presence after the judges agreed the brokerage possessed a “well-balanced site that presents information that is important”.
Aussie’s head of digital Alex Crompton said the brokerage had invested a lot of time and money into its online resource, and as such, was pleased to be recognised on a national scale.
“It is nice to receive recognition for all the hard work, time and effort we have invested. We know in today’s environment, a strong web presence is more important than ever. While we are happy with what we have achieved, there is always more that can be done, so we won’t stop now,” he said.
BEST DIVERSIFICATION PROGRAM
SPONSORED BY RP Data, the Best Diversification Program title was awarded to Mildura Finance Ltd.
The judges agreed that Mildura Finance Ltd was truly the standout performer in this category, as it easily demonstrated its ability to diversify and broaden its product offering in the regions it serves.
The company’s executive director Peter Schroeder was on hand to collect the award.
Speaking to The Adviser, he said the Diversification Program was the best award to win, because all brokers know how important it is to have a sound diversification strategy in place.
“The residential property market is flat at the moment, so brokers need to look elsewhere in order to generate additional income,” he says.
“Winning this award will hopefully help us in our recruitment drive.”
BOUTIQUE AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR
SPONSORED BY the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the prestigious Boutique Aggregator of the Year award was presented to Ballast Finance.
Ballast’s general manager Frank Paratore said the award reinforced exactly what the group is all about.
“We are a boutique aggregator in every sense of the word, and we have no plans to change this. While we will always keep our eyes open to potential acquisition targets, it is important to us that we stay true to ourselves and not acquire for acquisition’s sake.”
The judges said Ballast greatly impressed with its growth and its proactive approach in meeting NCCP head-on.
“Although it is a boutique business, it has a national outlook and a clearly set out growth strategy in place.”
AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR
SPONSORED BY the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Choice Aggregation Services managed to take out the title of Aggregator of the Year.
According to the judges, Choice’s business model is built on a basic premise – a true partnership between them and their brokers.
“This implies trust, professionalism and service quality – all elements of what Choice has committed itself to,” the comments read.
Choice’s chief executive officer Stephen Moore said the aggregator was thrilled to be recognised for all its hard work.
“At Choice, we are all about solid partnerships. We want to build a positive foundation with our brokers and work with them to grow their business.”
But while Mr Moore said Choice’s business model is very strong, he believes there is always more that can be done.
BOUTIQUE BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR
WESTPAC WAS on hand to present Tiffen & Co with their award for Best Boutique Brokerage of the Year.
According to the judges, Tiffen & Co is an outstanding example of a brokerage who continues to grow its business year on year through its focus on its people, business ethics and customer relationships.
Earlier this year, the brokerage managed to write a record amount of business, despite the flat market conditions.
Director, Gerard Tiffen said the company had really gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years.
“It is really nice to be recognised for all our hard work. At the end of the day, I think our success can be largely attributed to our team. For a business to succeed in today’s environment, it really is important to have a sound crew, even if you have to pay a little more for them.”
MAJOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – NON-FRANCHISE
AUSSIE HOME LOANS was a big winner on the day, taking home Major Brokerage of the Year (non-franchise) as well as a host of other awards.
Aussie’s chief executive officer Stephen Porgess said it was great to receive recognition from the industry.
“It shows we are really on the right track when it comes to managing our business,” he said.
“We won’t stop what we are doing. We are going to keep improving all of the time.”
In fact, Mr Porgess said the future looks even more exciting than the past.
“We are never satisfied with what we have done. We are bullish about the future, but we know to be the best, we have to keep evolving and coming out with new innovative products. So, watch this space,” he said.
MAJOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – FRANCHISE
SPONSORED BY Bankwest, it was Mortgage Choice that managed to take out the Major Brokerage of the Year (franchise) award for 2011.
Mr Russell said the award victory demonstrated the company’s resilience in a challenging market.
“The accolade speaks volumes about Mortgage Choice’s position amongst its mortgage broking peers across a number of metrics, from loan writer productivity through to submission quality, conversion and on to good old fashioned determination and customer care.
“I am so proud of the enthusiasm our passionate representatives demonstrate every day.”
Indeed it was the enthusiasm shown by the brokerage’s franchisees that won the judges over.
According to the judges’ comments, “Mortgage Choice has achieved on every level”.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
HE MAY have just two years of experience under his belt, but what he lacks in experience, Aussie’s Matthew Rose makes up for in volumes.
The Newcomer of the Year managed to impress the judges with his submission.
“While each of the newcomers excelled in particular areas, Matthew provided the best all round submission and production numbers,” the judges’ comments read.
Nab’s John Flavell was on hand to congratulate a stunned Matthew Rose.
Aussie’s chief executive officer Stephen Porges said the award was well-deserved.
“Matthew is one of those standout performers, who not only has written a lot of business in home loans, but has embraced cross-selling and local area marketing in order to achieve his goals,” he said. “He has consistently listened, learned and implemented the knowledge and tools Aussie offers.”
FINANCE BROKER OF THE YEAR
THE FINANCE Broker of the Year award was a hotly contested battle, according to the judges.
However, 1st Street’s Jeremy Fisher managed to take home the crown, after wowing the judges with his impressive volumes and dedication to the end client.
Mr Fisher also managed to impress every one present at the awards with his humble attitude.
Mr Fisher said while he was happy to win, it wouldn’t change the way he does business.
“To me, my job is all about the client. Recognition is great, but I wouldn’t go to work every day if I didn’t love what I do. I feel privileged to not only receive this award, but also to help people every day in their dream of home ownership.”
RESIDENTIAL BROKER OF THE YEAR
INTELLIGENT FINANCE’S Justion Doobov managed to take home the Residential Broker of the Year title, after impressing the judges with his massive volumes.
“It is difficult to ignore the amount of business a broker is writing, particularly when much of that business is either repeat or referral. In an environment of declining credit demand, Justin goes against the grain,” the judges said.
And Mr Doobov agreed.
He said his business model was different to most brokers.
“I never look at ways I can earn a dollar today. Instead, I focus on helping the client. I want to help them achieve their financial goals. My advice to all brokers is to think about what you can do for the client tomorrow, rather than what you can do for them today.”
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