Ongoing education and training provide brokers with the tools they need to grow and prosper – but how much is enough and what should aggregators be offering?
Ongoing education and training are vital aspects of every broker’s professional growth. Early in a broker’s career in particular, they need exposure to support, mentoring and education.
Loan Market chief operating officer Stephen Scahill says “a strong mentoring program for new-to-industry brokers is critical”, with the benefits trickling through to more experienced brokers.
“We need ways to continually introduce new talent into the industry. This allows our franchisees to bring talent into their business to support growth ambitions,” he says.
Stephen Moore, CEO of Choice Aggregation Services, shares this sentiment.
“New recruits will need more hands-on support than their experienced counterparts,” he says.
“At Choice we offer a tailored approach in terms of the amount of individual support and training we offer our brokers.
“For new brokers, this might take the form of training on the basics like product and lender requirements, and developing those crucial skills such as networking and building a referral base.”
Liberty Network Services managing director Brendan O’Donnell agrees that aggregators should be providing customised support as opposed to an across-the-board introductory education program.
“When someone is joining the industry it's about really understanding their strengths and weaknesses,” he says.
“It’s about working through questions like, ‘Are you a real salesperson? Do you understand the financials? Do you understand what the business is about?’ As opposed to saying, ‘If you go through this education and read this content and tick all the boxes, you should be fine’.
“That's not the case. I just sometimes worry that a lot of that is happening as opposed to really getting to understand the individual and what makes them work, what their weaknesses are and how you can eliminate those so they can be successful.”
Beyond the basic level of training, industry veterans say brokers’ education must continue.
“Ongoing development is a must,” Mr Scahill says. “The rate of change occurring in our industry demands ongoing training simply to keep pace with the change. The key is providing a training and development platform that supports brokers at different stages of their business lifecycle.”
Mr Moore says continued education is key to enabling brokers grow their business.
“Ongoing education is essential for growth and the brokers we see who really take their business to the next level are those who are constantly looking to learn and take on new ideas,” he says.
Meanwhile, Mr O’Donnell has found that providing an across-the-board training program to all brokers who join Liberty Network Services has been well received by not only new-to-industry brokers, but also experienced brokers.
“We often find that the established brokers who have been around for a while find it really refreshing because it often reminds them of things that they kind of know but don't do and it re-energises them back into thinking ‘I need to look at running my business differently’.
“There's a big advantage in reinventing yourself and going back and doing a refresher in some of the baseline stuff.
“Whether it is on the lending side, technology or in terms of marketing and sales, we find that it's very useful for them as much as it is for new-to-industry brokers.”
What’s on offer?
Once an aggregator understands a broker’s needs, they are able to provide tailored education programs to help them excel in their business.
What do some of the most successful aggregators offer their brokers?
Mr Scahill explains that the Loan Market Way training program allows their brokers to customise their education by enabling them to select areas of interest and relevance to their business.
“It’s ineffective to try and deliver one-size-fits-all training. Regardless of how you pitch it, it will be at the wrong level for many participants in the room,” he says.
“Varying the format of training including one-on-one business coaching, video content and documented processes form part of our Loan Market Way development program.
“We are fortunate enough at Loan Market to have a number of our highest performing brokers openly share their practices and processes with other brokers. This peer-led training is some of the most effective, well-received sessions that I’ve witnessed.”
Choice encourages brokers to utilise education and training opportunities to help them reach their full potential.
“Choice is committed to helping brokers stand out in an increasingly competitive market, a commitment that sees us provide industry-leading support and a comprehensive professional development program. We look to help our brokers learn and grow with a focus on practical business skills,” Mr Moore says.
“We believe specialist advice is essential to helping brokers grow their business. By working with individual brokers to develop and embed strategic growth plans in their business, Choice helps prepare broker businesses to optimise opportunities irrespective of market conditions.”
Choice also facilitates learning between brokers, as they believe mentoring can form a key part of success.
“At Choice, we hold over a hundred peer-to-peer learning sessions every year, where brokers are able to get together with other brokers in their area, and share ideas and strategies to improve and grow their businesses,” Mr Moore says.
At Liberty, they believe all brokers can benefit from their across-the-board induction program.
“When a broker joins Liberty Network Services, regardless of whether they're an established broker or new-to-industry, they go through a three-day induction program in Melbourne,” Mr O’Donnell says.
“Beyond that, we have our technology platform which provides online tutorials around loan submissions and product information. It's really easy to use and navigate, and we constantly communicate to our network, to encourage them to use it and they do.”
But Liberty doesn’t stop there.
“We also have what we call ‘My Library’ which is the library of information that advisers can access which is really rich in content and has got everything from product guides to matrices, to compliance to sales and marketing, and training – that really helps us,” Mr O’Donnell says.
“In addition to this, we have monthly webinars and we cover off on all sorts of aspects. That's driven more out of demand from what we hear from the networks, so it depends on what they're looking to do.”
Taking brokers from good to great
Education and training opportunities not only allow brokers to consistently grow throughout their careers – high-quality education programs create a distinct divide between good and great brokers.
Both Mr Scahill and Mr Moore believe that in order for a broker to excel, he or she must be committed to the development potential training programs can offer.
“Prior to implementing a complete training plan into a broker’s business, we need to understand the broker’s goals for their business. We’ve developed tools to support a wide range of needs, but it would be wrong to suggest there is a one-size-fits-all approach,” Mr Scahill says.
“The first step for us is to really understand a broker’s ambitions.”
Similarly, Mr Moore believes that simply putting a training plan in place won’t necessarily take a broker from good to great – brokers and aggregators have to commit to working together to maximise what’s on offer.
“Ongoing training should be high on the list for brokers who are committed to growing and adapting their business to ensure its long-term success,” he says.
Making the switch
There comes a time in a broker’s relationship with their aggregator that they must put their cards on the table. If an aggregator is falling short in areas that the broker places high importance on, it might be time to consider switching aggregators.
But what should a broker look for in an aggregator?
Mr O’Donnell says “talk is cheap” and he encourages brokers to question the systems and processes of an aggregator, and make an educated decision about the sustainability of its offerings.
Mr Moore agrees that it is up to the broker to question the aggregator’s ability to deliver.
“Anecdotal feedback in the market has told us that brokers often feel they aren’t really heard by their aggregator. Brokers should look for an aggregator they feel ‘gets’ them,” he says.
“This means looking for an aggregator that offers the personalised support and training you need to grow and develop.
“Choice does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Our support and training is tailored to suit each individual broker which can be dialled up or down depending on your needs.”
Despite their obvious importance, education and training are not always at the forefront of an aggregator’s offerings.
“There are a large number of successful aggregators in Australia and in some respects this is because they cater for different needs, and each broker business has its own set of priorities in terms of what is important,” says Mr Scahill.
“My recommendation to a broker would be to develop their business plan that clearly sets out what is important to them in terms of building a business and match their criteria against the aggregator’s offering. Don’t be afraid to do a deep dive on the aggregator.”
Mr Moore also points out that “while technology and commission models are important, when it comes to selecting an aggregator no factors should be viewed in isolation”.
Mr Scahill says switching groups is a big move, and brokers and aggregators need to make sure they’re on the same page.
“It’s a really important decision to select the group that is right for you. Getting into the detail is critical so that both the broker and the aggregator have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.”
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