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Large groups

reporter 3 minute read

Some brokers may fear they’ll ‘just be another number’ if they sign up with a large aggregator, but these groups say they’re big for a reason – they deliver

Aggregating under a larger group has obvious benefits: access to resources, economies of scale and opportunities for networking, business building and social events.

But brokers could also be forgiven for worrying they might get lost in the crowd. Often in the corporate world, ‘big’ can be synonymous with ‘anonymous’. Will anyone listen to you?

Will you be able to reach the people that matter? Does your little one-person operation concern them when they have so much else going on?

Connective’s director, Glenn Lees, says these misgivings are not always necessary.

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“I don’t think it has anything to do with size to be honest,” he says. “The size doesn’t matter so much as the attitude. We were successful when we were small and we went from small to big because our size is a reflection of what we do. We’re fair. We’re open. We’re transparent.”

Mr Lees says large aggregators aren’t necessarily large simply because they’ve always tried to get more brokers, more loans and more money. In many cases, the big aggregators are big because brokers are drawn to them – and then they stay because they’re able to perform well.

Big benefits

PLAN’s CEO Trevor Scott says the big groups offer brokers numerous benefits, including national conferences with keynote speakers, further education and development, and huge networking opportunities at nationwide events and training sessions.

But they don’t stop there, according to Mr Scott.

“The main benefits of being associated with a larger aggregator include the strength, security, experience and expertise brokers are provided with on a daily basis,” he says.

“Larger aggregators have the ability to be flexible and make changes with the ever-evolving needs of their brokers.

“On the financial side of things, being associated with a larger aggregator provides balance sheet strength and bargaining power with lenders.”

AFG’s general manager for sales and operations, Mark Hewitt, says the more brokers an aggregator has, the more they can plough back into their business – which can ultimately help the brokers’ businesses.

“In terms of what we can offer, it’s very clear,” says Mr Hewitt. “Our brokers have boosted our mortgage volume to $3 billion and our book increased $10 billion last year to $75 billion.

“The key to our growth is helping our brokers to grow. That’s why we reinvest profits back into the business.”

Connective’s Mr Lees says smaller brokerages shouldn’t be worried about joining the bigger groups.

“We’ve become the second biggest aggregator in the country because of what we do, the way we do it and the spirit in which we do it,” he says. “We suit anybody who sees the value in our proposition. I say that because we have many really successful brokerages who are members [but] with only one loan writer.

“They are really good loan writers who write a lot of business, but we also have national franchises with 100 branches that aggregate through us too.”

According to Mr Hewitt, AFG offers flexibility, which enables the aggregator to cater to various types of broker.

“AFG members range from the largest broker groups in the country with a national presence, to one- or two-person operations working by themselves or alongside financial planners or accountants,” he says.

“Members can opt in or out of a variety of services according to their needs. We’re very aware that one-size-fits-all models just don’t work, and this is one of the key reasons we’ve invested so heavily in our IT platforms and tools.”

With size, scale and industry presence, the big groups are keen to keep attracting and recruiting the industry’s best.

Large groups
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