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Size doesn't matter

Jessica Darnbrough 3 minute read

Boutique aggregators can offer brokers specialised business support, as The Adviser discovers

The old adage, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ comes to mind when it gets to the question of switching aggregators.

Any broker who decides to switch should do so knowing they have made a carefully considered business decision and are fully aware of the reasons behind the move.

Many brokers, however, switch based purely on the revenue sharing model, although according to National Mortgage Brokers’ Gerald Foley, this should never be the determining factor.

Different aggregators suit different brokers, he says.

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Brokers who want specialised business support, solid software and flexibility tend to partner with boutique groups such as nMB and Ballast.

“Boutique is often another word for small and that has its benefits and pitfalls,” he says.

“To receive the best lender terms and commissions available, you need to be able to deliver volume.

“To be able to build and maintain market-leading systems, you need to be profitable and have a policy of continual improvement.

“nMB has the best of both worlds,” Mr Foley says. “We operate under our own lender contracts, with lenders acknowledging the relationship with Aussie when it comes to setting commission levels.

“Boutique is not only a measure of size; it can also be a measure of style. I believe that nMB offers a boutique-style service which has been maintained as we have grown. To do this we ensure there is always access to the key people in the business and [that there is] a common theme amongst our brokers – professional, focused and successful.”

Ballast’s chief executive, Frank Paratore, agrees and says boutique aggregators offer brokers specialised support and access to business coaches, leaders and other professionals who can help them improve their businesses very significantly.

“Our size makes us flexible,” he says. “We have the ability to talk to our brokers one-on-one and really find out what it is they are looking for from their aggregator.

“Once we establish what they need from us, we can provide them with just that.”

While Mr Paratore notes that boutique aggregators “aren’t perfect”, he also points out they do offer a lot more support, understanding and quality service to their brokers.

Because of this, boutique aggregators tend to favour brokers who want to grow their businesses but are unsure of which steps they should take.

“Commissions cannot be the be-all and end-all,” he says. “Brokers who are serious about growing their business need to look at an aggregator’s entire offering. Will they offer you the specialised business support you need?

“If you want access to business professionals who can help you take your business to the next level, then partnering with a boutique aggregator is the way to go.”

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