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Australian Broking Awards 2018
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Australian Broking Awards 2018

Brokers from across the country converged on The Star in Sydney for The Adviser’s 2018 Australian Broking Awards to celebrate the success of the industry’s best performers. Here’s a wrap-up of the event and a few words from some of the winners in this year’s awards.

Charbel Kadib & Annie Kane Comments 0
— 11 minute read

Brokers from across the country converged on The Star in Sydney for The Adviser’s 2018 Australian Broking Awards to celebrate the success of the industry’s best performers. Here’s a wrap-up of the event and a few words from some of the winners in this year’s awards.

A palpable sense of anticipation swept across the room as brokers and industry professionals mingled ahead of the commencement of the 2018 Australian Broking Awards.

Jason Gibson, commercial finance manager at CAFG Australease and Asset Finance Broker of the Year, was surprised by the magnitude of the event, which was held at The Star casino in Sydney at the end of the financial year.

“The event was amazing,” Mr Gibson said.

“I had never been to the event before, so when I turned up and walked into that auditorium, I couldn’t believe how big it was. The scale of it, almost a thousand people there, it was great.”

For mortgage broker at realestate.com.au Home Loans and Regional Broker of the Year George Smith-Roberts, the event provided him with a unique opportunity to interact with colleagues.

“It was a great day. I met some people I haven’t met before. I got to put some faces to names,” Mr Smith-Roberts said.

“I work in a regional office, so I don’t get to see a lot of people that we deal with over the phone very often.”

The awards presentation was kicked off and hosted by comedian and Australian television personality Tom Gleeson, whose humour complimented the upbeat atmosphere.

The winners of the 32 awards up for grabs were then announced intermittently as attendees enjoyed their three-course meals and continued to socialise.

Commenting on his receipt of the Newcomer of the Year award, mortgage broker at Loan Market Bayside Michael Vasilaras said: “It was definitely a surprise and a bit of a shock, but it was exciting, especially once I got up on stage. The lights hit you, everything goes silent, and it’s all eyes on you.”

Josh Bartlett, Mr Vasilaras’ colleague at Loan Market Bayside, was thrilled to win the Residential Broker of the Year award amid strong competition.

“The calibre of the people who were at the event was absolutely huge, so even becoming a finalist for the award was a big thing. It was amazing to win the award. It was unbelievable,” Mr Bartlett said.

The event was capped off with an after-party hosted by Bankwest where attendees celebrated victories, congratulated peers and let off some steam as a reward for their hard work.

“I thought the whole event was really good fun. It was a nice way to cap off a good financial year,” Mr Gibson said.

Momentum Media’s James Mitchell congratulated this year’s winners and noted that the competition between categories this year had been tighter than ever.

“The Australian Broking Awards showcases the high level of excellence in the broking industry, and competition was rife this year," he said. 

“The quality of the submissions this year was a testament to the increasing professionalism in this industry and demonstrates just how strong this industry, and the great service it provides, has become.

“We are proud to honour the leading players in Australia’s broking industry, and congratulations must go to all the winners and finalists who have worked so hard to ensure that brokers are the channel of choice for Australian borrowers.”

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR 2018: Michael Vasilaras, Loan Market Bayside

What do you think gives you that winning edge?

Prior to starting my own business, I was CSM for a year and a half working for one of the best. From there I jumped straight into my own broking business, no leads, no referrals, no established relationships, but I knew how to put a deal in, I understood the process. I’m also eager to always keep learning, training and I’m a very hard worker. I regularly work 12- to 14-hour days, six or seven days a week.

What are some of the challenges facing the industry at the moment?

The rapid influx of new regulations, and all the lenders tightening up and flip-flopping on policies. It’s definitely a trying time, especially for new brokers without any big backing behind them or experience. These changes are also very tough on banks and their assessors internally, with no one being able to lean on previous policies or experience. There is definitely a lot more work that goes into each and every deal now.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

In terms of the business, the game plan is to be settling $5 million a month, so that would take us up to $60 million for the year. I’d also like to grow referral partnerships and marketing platforms, grow the internal training we hold in the office, the customer base and customer reviews, which is a big thing for us as well. My [Net Promoter Score] is sitting at 100 per cent for us at the moment.

REGIONAL BROKER OF THE YEAR 2018: George Smith-Roberts, Realestate.com.au Home Loans

How did it feel to win the award?

It was very cool. It was a nice confirmation of all the effort we’ve been putting in for the last couple of years.

Why do you think you stand out from the crowd?

We have very specific guidelines that we follow with every client. Every client gets a face-to-face visit. We meet our clients at least once, so it sort of sets us apart from a lot of brokers who won’t see clients at all unless they have to. We visit clients even if it means we have to drive five hours to see them.

Why did you choose to become a broker?

I used to own a retail business, a news agency. I was sick of doing that and needed an exit strategy. After doing research, I found that broking was the one business in our local area that was lacking that service that we could easily transition into. We went about completing the courses and bought a franchise and we grew the business from there.

What are the challenges that come with broking in a regional community?

In country areas, people tend to follow what their parents did and if their parents used a big four bank, then that’s just where they go. We have to educate the population about what a mortgage broker can do for them, gain the trust of the local agencies and generate referral processes.

What type of clients do you typically
deal with?

Most of our client base are mum and dad investors. They’re not experienced investors, so we’re holding their hand the whole way through the process. We often refer to our brokerage as the blue-collar brokerage. We deal with everyday people who just want to get a home loan for their first home or want to ensure that their finances are being looked after to the best of their ability, and that’s our job, to make sure it happens.

What advice would you give to young and aspiring brokers?

I give my loan writers two pieces of advice. The first is, if you say you’re going to do it, get it done. The second is to stick to your morals, don’t ever do something that you don’t believe is correct, and clients will see that come through.

ASSET FINANCE BROKER OF THE YEAR 2018: Jason Gibson, CAFG Australease

How did it feel to win the award?

On a personal note, I’m still in shock, to be honest. I was a bit overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t expecting it. My heart was racing a million miles a minute. As I was up there, I was shaking with excitement and was really overwhelmed.

What do you think sets you apart from other brokers?

The way I approach things, I suppose, is completely different from most brokers. I’m not transaction-based; I’m relationship-based. I look at the big picture; I look at trying to assist clients with more than just equipment finance, for example. I adopt a holistic approach to meeting the customer’s requirements. I look at the bigger picture of what the customer is trying to achieve. A certain issue might be a lack of equipment or a lack of capital or a combination of all those things. If you come with a solution for all of it, it usually sets you apart from 90 per cent of the pack.

What advice would you give to young and
aspiring brokers?

Learn about the different requirements that all of the lenders have, understand accreditations, the administrative side of broking. The administrative side is obviously a considerable burden on new brokers entering the market. I was just lucky that the guys that I worked with had all that infrastructure in place already, so when I started, I hit the ground running. It allowed me to do what I enjoyed, which was meeting business owners and customers and helping them grow their businesses.

It’s also important to build your reputation with lenders because you don’t want to be the guy that sends them inadequate deals. You want to be the guy that, when they see your name, they know that you understand what they’re trying to achieve… If a deal comes in with my name on it, you know that nine and a half times out of 10, it’s going to be a good deal.

RESIDENTIAL BROKER OF THE YEAR 2018: Josh Bartlett, Loan Market Bayside

How do you stand out from the crowd?

I think the passion that I throw at it. I spend probably my whole meeting educating a client on everything so that they walk out smarter for it. I know that most people that I meet feel very overwhelmed by everything that’s happening. Also, if you have a look at the number of loans that we write now, I think we did 400 loans this year, we can’t do it without a team, and the team can’t do it if they’re not educated either. The key to the amount of volume that we write is educating the team around me.

What’s your advice to young or aspiring brokers?

Be obsessed, if you’re not obsessed about this industry. You have to be obsessed about educating a client. They’re the things you need to do to make it in the industry.

It’s not about how much money you can earn; it’s about what you can do for your clients by educating your clients all the time, in every single way and continually.

You’ve also got to be able to make phone calls, you need to be talking to people all the time. If you don’t have the personality where you want to pick up the phone, don’t even start the job.

I think there are people in the industry who have jumped in because they’re very analytical and they analyse things very well, and are probably very good with
credit, but if you’re not good at picking up the phone and talking to another human on the other side, then you’re probably not going to make it.

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR 2018: POSITIVE GROUP: NODIFI

Following on from their win as Innovator of the Year, Annie Kane sits down with Positive Group’s managing director, Tom Caesar, and head of operations, Chris Sims, to find out more about their new platform, Nodifi.

Why did you develop Nodifi?

CHRIS SIMS: There was nothing in the asset finance space that looked at lender policy while also being fully transparent to the user about what they will actually earn. So, we thought we could solve a problem for the wider market. We’re doing the processing and hard work and chasing the people selling the asset; we’re dealing with the financier.

TOM CAESAR: Our motto is “Diversify with Nodifi” and we want to provide the diversification tools to brokers to help them keep their clients, provide a better service, offer more products and give them some technology solutions that they may not have access to.

We are giving them the tools to succeed and be compliant at the same time. With the royal commission going on, compliance is a big chunk of a broker’s conversation, so we’ll keep building more and more tools on top of the platform to give more mortgage brokers access to the tools they need to succeed.

We want our clients, mortgage brokers, to write asset finance without having to lift a finger. That is our aim.

What can you do through Nodifi?

CS: You can use Nodifi for both consumer and commercial asset finance, so anything that has a serial number that can be secured — a car, a bike, a boat, a helicopter, leisure products and equipment, etc.

There is a whole suite of products — novated leasing, chattel mortgages, commercial hire purchase and vehicle sourcing — and we can do business funding as well.

How many lenders are on the panel?

CS: We’re constantly reviewing our panel, but we currently use around 30 lenders. While the platform quotes 12 lenders at the moment, our support team are trained on all the lenders on the panel and they can identify the right solutions for the times where something is outside of the box.

How many deals have been settled through the platform?

TC: We settled around 3,200 deals between 1 April 2017 and July 2018.

What tips would you have for brokers looking to innovate?

TC: Don’t expect it to be smooth-sailing. Developing the platform was the most challenging time we’ve experienced in almost 10 years of running the business. It certainly tested our mindsets and caused some sleepless nights. So, don’t expect it to happen overnight and be prepared for a long slog. If you have the mental toughness to go through it, then go for it and give it a crack, but remember that nothing comes easy.

CS: Don’t let perfection get in the way of completion. The first design for the platform was awesome, but once we launched it, we realised we could
make it even better. So now, it looks completely different to how it did 12 months ago. You might want to have the perfect product going to market, but you need to launch it and listen to feedback to learn how you can make it better and turn it into something really special.

Also, don’t take feedback personally. Try not to get upset or that someone is knocking what you’re doing. Listen to the feedback and use it to build and grow what you’re doing.

A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR COMMONWEALTH BANK 

The Commonwealth Bank is proud to sponsor the Australian Broking Awards as its principal partner, an honour we have enjoyed for the past eight years. I want to take this opportunity to thank you and to acknowledge the importance of the mortgage broking industry in helping Australians achieve their property goals.

The Australian Broking Awards is unique as it is the only industry awards program that focuses solely on the achievements of Australia’s leading brokers and brokerages.

This event promotes and encourages professionalism in the industry and allows us to recognise and celebrate the profession’s top performers.

As Australia’s largest lender, we are dedicated to supporting the industry and assisting you to deliver strong, quality customer outcomes.

We will continue to support our mortgage broking partners by investing in education and tools to enhance your business and meet the needs of your customers.

Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners. You should all be incredibly proud of your achievements.

Enjoy the accolades that the Australian Broking Awards will bring to you and your business.

 

Australian Broking Awards 2018
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