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Change is no longer optional

Mark Woolnough 3 minute read

Increased overseas investment, negative gearing and lender competition for refinancers have all been driving the market, writes ING Direct's head of third-party distribution, Mark Woolnough

In the current environment, it could be easy to fall into the trap of thinking your current business model is all set. But while everything looks good on the surface, I’d be cautious about putting all my eggs in one basket.

It’s no secret first home buyers are already feeling squeezed out of the great Australian dream, so in the current market many of the Gen Y population may need to explore alternative means of investing.

Their parents are also reassessing their finances – perhaps paying more attention to their super and other investments to see if they can access equity from their properties and help their offspring get on the ladder. 

Overall, there’s a growing need for customers to extend their focus beyond simply getting a home loan to also consider other aspects of the financial lifecycle.

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The customer of the future is already here

There’s a lot of talk about what the customer of the future is going to look like, but on some levels they’re already here.

Technology is moving at such a pace consumers who have been showing a growing inclination to take control of their finances for some time are heading online and starting to make those decisions independently.

Where customers would previously have relied heavily on brokers to decipher information, in the age of greater transparency, calculators, comparison sites, peer reviews and the like allow borrowers to do the hard yards themselves.

Rethinking the value proposition

So what does it all mean for brokers? Quite honestly, my view is the traditional approach to broking just won’t cut it anymore.

If I were a broker, I’d be looking to evolve my service offering to meet the needs of a more knowledgeable, capable and engaged customer – one who increasingly needs insights and advice across a far broader financial spectrum.

Business owners tend to re-evaluate their business model when they are experiencing a downturn. But conversely, I think a far better time to think ahead is when business is progressing well. We all know that financial services move in cycles, so use the current positive environment as an opportunity to rethink your value proposition.

Ask yourself, what do I stand for in the market? How do I see my role evolving? How can I continue to meet the needs of my changing customer base?

It may mean upskilling, it may mean recruiting differently, it may mean building new partnerships, or it may mean investing in technology that helps validate your customers’ decisions.

Once you’ve identified your point of difference you’ll be in a far stronger position to work in long-term partnership with your customers as mentor, coach and endorser across the full financial lifecycle.

Mark Woolnough is head of third-party distribution at ING Direct

Change is no longer optional
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