In an industry where growth is the number one goal, Outsource Financial has bucked the trend, preferring to stay small and independent – a business move that has proven to be incredibly successful as The Adviser discovers
HAVING WORKED for Lawfund and Finconnect, Tanya Sale had a burning desire to launch an aggregation group that was “unlike any other”.
“I was sick of working for aggregation groups that were part-owned or managed by a bank or dealer group,” she says.
“I saw scope to launch a truly independent aggregation group that was in no way dictated by outside forces.”
And so, In February 2010, Outsource Financial was born.
By her own admission, the new aggregation group’s business model took elements from both Lawfund and Finconnect.
“I definitely learnt a lot from those companies. I like to think I took the best attributes from both and the result was Outsource Financial,” she says.
Just like Finconnect, Outsource Financial looks to recruit a small number of financial professionals and help them build their business.
“But, unlike Finconnect, which targets lawyers and accountants, Outsource Financial’s aim was to attract brokers that had all the elements of greatness, but lacked the business savvy needed to turn good into great,” Ms Sale says.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
When Ms Sale first launched the aggregation group, she did so with a clear business model in mind.
The chief executive wanted to build a business that supported no more than 200 brokers.
In addition, Ms Sale says she wanted to build an aggregation group that acted as a true business partner to all of its broker members.
“My aim, was, is and always will be, to be a business partner to our brokers. We never intended to be the biggest. Rather, we wanted to make sure we intimately knew all of our brokers and their business models. We want to help all of our brokers to grow and prosper,” she says.
“We couldn’t do that if we had too many writers on our books. Too often, aggregation groups take on too many people and they fail to deliver what they promise – business support.”
Two years on from its initial launch and Outsource Financial has stuck to its guns, remaining boutique and specialised.
The aggregator currently boasts over 100 brokers and expects to hit the 200 mark this year. Once it hits that golden number, Ms Sale says it will not grow any bigger.
“We always said 200 was our milestone. We never wanted to grow beyond that and we won’t. If we do grow beyond that, we will fail to deliver the support that our brokers deserve and the support we promised them from day one.”
“We work with them in the same way a business partner would. If they need help recruiting, we recruit for them. If they need help processing loans, we get them that help. If they need help finding leads, we provide them with other professional referral partners.
“Whatever they need, we make sure we deliver it.”
It is for this reason that Ms Sale says she isn’t necessarily looking for the best brokers when recruiting.
“We really cater to those brokers that are good at what they do, but don’t have the business savvy to grow and prosper.”
“We aim to do things differently. We want our members to be more than just a name to us. We are going back to basics. It’s all about relationships.”
PROBLEM WITH AGGREGATION
Ms Sale says by focusing on relationships, Outsource Financial separates itself from its fellow aggregation groups and gives itself a competitive advantage in what is a crowded market.
In the last few years several companies have tried to break into the aggregation space with little success.
So what’s the secret? Why has Outsource managed to make its mark in a space where many have sunk trying?
Ms Sale says the key to running a successful aggregation group is to understand what it is the aggregation market is missing.
“You have to find a niche that is not catered to and then cater to that niche,” she says.
“In our case, I saw all of the aggregation groups growing larger and larger, which stops them from providing good quality and specialised service to their broker partners.
“In addition, I saw a lot of groups being bought by their competitors. Today, there are very few truly independent aggregation groups left in the space and I saw scope to launch an aggregator that is, was and always will be independent.”
Ms Sale says there are many brokers that are crying out for an independent, unbiased business partner.
She believes that the day will come when all brokers get sick of dealing with groups that are part owned by a dealer group or a bank.
“The independents will become stronger and stronger, especially as we see more and more of the bigger aggregation groups swallowed up by the banks for distribution purposes.”
Ms Sale’s belief that smaller, independent aggregators will grow in stature as the market consolidates, is in contrast with the rhetoric of the bigger groups.
Over the last four or five years the biggest brokerages have insisted that there is no room in the market place for mid-sized operations - only the very biggest and the smallest boutique brokerages will survive.
Earlier this year, Aussie executive director James Symond said Australia’s biggest aggregators will continue to grow in size, leaving less room for the smaller players.
“I have said it in the past and I will say it again, I believe the big will get bigger and the small will become state-based and boutique. You either need to get very large and go national, or stay small and stay specialised,” he said.
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