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Top 25 Brokerages 2013

Staff Reporter 25 minute read

In its annual Top 25 Brokerages report, The Adviser ranked Australia’s leading groups



IN A demure property market, it is pleasing to see so many of Australia’s top performing brokerages going from strength to strength.


In this year’s Top 25 Brokerages ranking by The Adviser, almost all of the companies managed to significantly grow their volumes in comparison to 2011.

Creative diversification as well as a strong commitment to customer service is what helped propel these companies into the ranking.

All of the companies listed in this year’s ranking share the same philosophy – the customer always comes first.

This philosophy is one that is also shared by Citibank. We believe in putting our customers’ – including our brokers’ – needs above everything else.

The third party distribution channel is critically important to Citibank. More than 75 per cent of our volumes are driven through this channel and as such, it is important for us to do what we can to highlight just how committed we are to brokers.


As supporters of this channel in Australia since its nascent period around 28 years ago, we are proud to this day to be celebrating its success.

Citibank welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Adviser, as well as with RP Data, in the Top 25 Brokeraages ranking and we would like to congratulate all of this year’s top performing brokerages on a job well done.

Vibha Coburn
Managing director, head of mortgages
Citibank Australia

AT RP DATA, we understand, respect and support the role brokers play in the residential property market, now totalling $4.8 trillion.

Mortgage brokers account for more than 45 per cent of all home loans written and data suggest this number is climbing year on year.

Almost all brokerages in this year’s ranking managed to significantly grow their volumes in comparison to 2011.

In a recovering property market, this is impressive. Considering the findings of the ranking, it is clear that the top performers are continuing to strengthen their client relationships and evolve with the industry.

And while the big, branded players continue to perform very well year after year, it is clear that Australia’s smaller brokerages are very successful in their own right. In fact, the ranking incorporates a few ‘first timers’, proving that Australia’s smaller players are going from strength to strength and gaining further traction with borrowers.

These achievements give the industry confidence that good quality brokers can succeed in any market provided they maintain good customer service and always put their clients’ needs first.

Underpinning high performers, regardless of size, is increasing use of trusted, insightful data. RP Data is proud to sponsor this ranking once again and we welcome brokers’ increased market confidence and continued high performance.

Congratulations to Australia’s Top 25 Brokerages!

Graham Mirabito
RP Data


1 Aussie
2 Mortgage Choice
3 The Australian Lending & Investment Centre
4 Club Financial
5 Loan Market
6 Rate Detective Finance/ House + Home Loans
7 Tiffen & Co
8 eChoice
9 Resolve Finance
10 Oxygen Home Loans
11 Mortgage Solutions Australia
12 KeyInvest Lending Services
13 Bernie Lewis
14 Acceptance Finance
15 Smartmove
16 The Loan Arranger
17 ACA Mortgage Solution
18 Better Choice Mortgage Services
19 Loan Gallery Finance
20 Trilogy Funding
22 Choice Capital Mortgages
23 1st Street Home Loans
24 Zobel Finance
25 Home Loan Experts

Australia’s Top 25 Brokerages have once again proven that a sluggish property market and falling consumer confidence is no challenge as they continue to grow their volumes and claw greater market share

THE YEAR 2012 was a tough one for brokers as the property market faced an uphill struggle.

Uncertainty – not least due to increased business and public concern about the slowing of the mining boom – as well as overseas economic woes left both investors and first home buyers waiting on the sidelines, hoping the situation would improve.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm investors were inactive, as were cashed-up professionals, as were would-be home buyers aiming to enter the market for the first time.

In other words, the Australian property market was well in the doldrums.

Research conducted by RP Data showed Sydney’s residential property market recorded growth of just 1.3 per cent over the year, while Brisbane’s housing values only managed to climb by 0.3 per cent.

In Hobart and Melbourne, values dropped over the course of 2012, with the greatest falls recorded in Hobart, where dwelling values were down by seven per cent.

RP Data’s senior research analyst Cameron Kusher told The Adviser in November 2012 that the road to recovery would not be without its “pauses”.

“Capital city home values remain 5.6 per cent lower than their historic highs of 15 November 2010, but up 2 per cent from their low of late May 2012,” Mr Kusher said.

Yet despite the sluggish property market, the third party distribution channel has managed to go from strength to strength – as The Adviser’s Top 25 Brokerages report revealed.

In this year’s report, almost all of the brokerages that won a place in the ranking managed to significantly grow their volumes in comparison to the period 12 months prior, suggesting the broker proposition continues to gain traction among borrowers.

In fact, this conclusion is supported by new figures from JP Morgan and Fujitsu, which found broker market share has climbed from 43 per cent at the end of 2011 to 46 per cent today.

And it is not just broker market share that is on the rise. Broker optimism is also increasing, with this year’s Top 25 Brokerages all indicating they are “bullish” about the future of the mortgage industry.

While there are still plenty of challenges ahead, it is refreshing to see optimism emerging in the third party sector.


In ranking Australia’s Top 25 Brokerages, The Adviser applied a stringent technical assessment process to ensure all participating brokerage groups were considered on a level footing.

To be eligible for consideration, the brokerage had to have at least three brokers all operating under the same brand.

These brokerages were then invited to complete an online survey, data from which were then compiled and assessed against pre-determined criteria, including loan book size, loan volumes, numbers of loans written, business growth and broker productivity.

In addition, for the third consecutive year, The Adviser measured each of the brokerages’ other volumes including , commercial, leasing and personal loans.

The brokerages were then ranked from 1 to 25 based on a comparative assessment of these key indicators.


As in previous years, size was a key factor in determining this year’s leading brokerages.

Aussie currently boasts the largest loan book of them all.

In addition, with more than 700 brokers, it is no surprise to see the brokerage settle the largest number of loans with the highest dollar value.

As a result – and for the first time – Aussie managed to pip Mortgage Choice to the post, claiming first position in the ranking.

The brokerage’s success can also be largely attributed to its recent acquisition of National Mortgage Brokers (nMB).

In April 2012, Aussie bought the medium-sized aggregation group, which helped the group to grow its loan book immediately.

At the time of the acquisition, nMB boasted nearly 200 brokers and a loan book worth more than $8 billion.

Even more than helping Aussie grow its loan book, however, the acquisition also helped the brokerage to significantly improve its broker productivity levels.

Aussie’s brokers, as the ranking shows, are now approximately $1 million more productive each year than they were in 2011.

But while Aussie has managed to take home the coveted title of Australia’s Top Brokerage for the first time, Mortgage Choice – as expected – was not far behind.

With just over 500 brokers, Mortgage Choice, established 20 years ago, boasts a similar sized loan book to Aussie’s – an impressive feat when you consider the brokerage has 200-plus fewer brokers than its nearest rival.


More than 50 brokerages submitted themselves for consideration this year – the largest number of participants since the ranking began in 2009.

More important, some of Australia’s boutique brokerages managed to perform incredibly well, successfully going toe-to-toe with the big boys.

In fact, a new entrant, The Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC), managed to establish itself as a brokerage to watch, with the boutique company beating Loan Market and Club Financial to take out third position in the ranking.

When you boil down the figures, however, ALIC’s position in the ranking is hardly surprising.

After just three years in business, the brokerage already boasts a loan book of which many companies twice ALIC’s size would be proud.

According to the figures, ALIC’s book surpasses $800 million – a huge achievement when you consider that the brokerage has only nine active brokers.

On average, each of the brokers working under the ALIC brand settles more than $37 million a year – significantly higher than the $16 million settled, on average, by Aussie brokers.

Of course, ALIC wasn’t the only boutique stand-out performer in this year’s ranking.

A notable mention must also be given to Rate Detective Finance/House + Home Loans, with the brokerage jumping from 12th place last year to 6th place in this year’s ranking.

Similarly, new entrants Home Loan Experts and ACA Mortgage Solutions deserve a fair share of praise. >>

1 / Rate Detective/House + Home Loans (12th)
2 / Tiffen & Co (7th)
3 / Choice Capital Mortgages (new entrant)
4 / ALIC (new entrant)
5 / Trilogy Funding (18th)


Having a strong brand is critical to Loan Market’s success as a brokerage, as national sales director Mark De Martino explains

It’s crucial to have a strong brand identity. It’s a key component in driving brand awareness and in turning awareness into consumer action. Branding is influential in consumer perceptions of an organisation and in driving their decision making. A strong brand can also be a way to differentiate your offering from the competition.

In addition, Loan Market’s branding plays a key role in ensuring our brokers – as well as our end customers – feel proud to be part of Loan Market.


The Loan Market brand has been in operation in Australia since 2003. Over the last 10 years, the brand has evolved with the rapid growth of Loan Market’s business. Research is a key tool we use to ensure that the brand resonates with our customers – our brokers and end consumers. We take a bottom-up approach to ensure that our external communications are grounded in a solid brand strategy – by starting with our reason for being and working through brand values to our brand character. We also closely monitor the brands of our competitors to identify opportunities to use our brand to set us apart and communicate what makes Loan Market different.

One of the most crucial ingredients of the DNA of all good brands is a consistent and unwavering focus on who you are. Great brands know why they exist – their purpose or reason for being. Even brands who offer a diverse product range across a broad spectrum of consumers can be great brands – they just need to always remain true to their reason for being and evolve with the needs of the customer.

Beyond that, great brands are consistent in their communications and use their branding as a tool to build engaging and trusting relationships with their customers.

We completed our annual broker survey in May and the feedback is largely going to help to shape our efforts over the next year. The feedback from the survey was overwhelmingly positive and we know that we’re doing the right things for our brokers in many areas and that the pride in our brand has never been higher. Our brokers have expressed a desire for our brand to engage more national and local communities and we responded by rolling out our HOPE program (Help Open People’s Eyes).

We’re also continually looking at ways to strengthen the relationship between Ray White and our group. Broker training is going to be a key focus, and another big goal for us is to proactively manage our online reputation.


To be a top performing brokerage, you must excel in certain areas. The Adviser takes a look at what those areas are and what tools a brokerage needs to be successful in a competitive market

GIVEN THE subdued credit environment, it would have been fair to assume that Australia’s third party distribution channel would suffer in 2012.

However, according to The Adviser’s Top 25 Brokerages ranking, all of Australia’s leading brokerages performed incredibly well.

To give you an idea of their achievements, their average loan book surpasses $6 billion, while the average number of loans written by the top performing companies over the past calendar year was 4,732.

In addition, the average volume of loans settled for the year ending 31 December 2012 was just over $1.4 billion.

To put this in perspective, the average loan book in last year’s ranking was just over $5 billion, while the average volume of loans settled in the 12 months to 31 December 2011 was just over $1 billion.

This indicates not only that the nation’s Top 25 Brokerages performed better over the 2012 calendar year than they did in 2011, but also suggests the calibre of the Top 25 brokerages is higher than ever before.

Also worthy of note is that all brokerages listed in this year’s ranking diversified their offerings to at least some extent.

In addition to crunching the numbers to compile this year’s ranking, The Adviser interviewed a handful of the nation’s top performing brokerages to find out exactly what it takes to be one of the industry’s winners.


Any brokerage worth its salt understands that to be successful in business, you first need a group of hard-working, ambitious and successful employees.

Rate Detective/House + Home Loans’ Rael Bricker says a company is only as good as its employees, which is why it is so important to hire the right ones.

Of course, hiring the right person for the job is easier said than done – especially in mortgage broking – and as Mr Bricker explains, it takes a certain type of person to be a good mortgage broker.

“They need to be resilient, hard working, ambitious and above all else, understanding,” Mr Bricker says.

But not only is finding this type of person “incredibly difficult” in the first instance; according to Mr Bricker, the task is made even harder by the fact that many Australians don’t know what a mortgage broker does.

“University students aren’t graduating and thinking about becoming a mortgage broker – in almost every instance, it is not even a career they have thought about,” he says.

Mr Bricker says that because of this, his company makes sure it gets involved in university open days and career expos.

“We want to get the word out there,” he says. “We think it is important that people understand the benefits that can come with being a mortgage broker.”

Those benefits are many and varied, but there are also a lot of pitfalls associated with mortgage broking, including being unable to generate an income in the first few months.

Rate Detective/House + Home Loans has developed a recruitment strategy that helps its employees “ease into mortgage broking”.

“In our business, we created two streams for new-to-industry recruits,” Mr Bricker explains.

“We allow new recruits to come in and work as assistants and loan processors within the company. They can spend a few years doing that and then, once they have a good understanding of the industry and how a loan is processed, they can then move into a managerial role.

“Conversely, the other stream we offer our new recruits includes a gradual move into mortgage broking. We bring them on board as a loans processor then, after a few years, they can move into broking.

“At the beginning, we pay them a salary and incentivise them, so that once they have been there six months they can bring in their own deals.

They are limited to doing two of their own deals a month, but they earn the commission from that and it eases them into the loan writing side of the business,” he says.

“If we bring in someone older who immediately wants to start broking, we will advance them the money they earn on any loans they write for the first few months so that they are not without funds in the early stages of their new career.”


While hiring the right people for the job is critical, once that step has been finalised, it is important for these new recruits to have access to the right tools to ensure they remain productive in their role.

The Adviser’s conversations with this year’s top performing brokerages have made it clear that all of the best companies have several tools or methods to ensure their recruits’ productivity remains high.

One of those tools is a good customer relationship management (CRM) system.

According to Resolve Finance’s Arin DiCamillo, a good CRM system can help improve a brokerage’s client retention rate, which also helps lift productivity overall.

Resolve has a custom-built CRM system that helps the broker navigate their way from initial contact through to settlement and beyond.

“We are part of the ABN group, so our CRM system is essentially a tool that was built for the building industry but modified for our needs,” Mr DiCamillo says.

“As a result, it is a really detailed system and literally the backbone of everything we do.”

Mr DiCamillo says the company also requires its brokers to undergo continuing sales training in a bid to enhance productivity.

“We want to make sure our brokers do everything right in the first instance,” he says. “By holding additional sales training, we can ensure the customer experience is second to none.

“We rely on our clients for repeat and referral business. As such, their customer experience is incredibly important. We are constantly looking at ways to enhance our sales process to make their experience perfect.

“The better the experience, the better the chance of them coming back.”

Mr DiCamillo says the brokerage has ambitious growth plans for the coming 12 months, which is why it is so important for all of Resolve Finance’s brokers to be productive.

“We want to hit $1 billion in settlements next year,” he says. “We believe we will settle just over $850 million this calendar year, so we are hopeful that we can ramp that up further still in 2014 and hit the $1 billion mark.”


Resolve isn’t the only brokerage in this year’s ranking with ambitious growth plans. New brokerage on the block, The Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC), also has plans to settle $1 billion in the not-too-distant future.

In just over three years, ALIC has managed to establish itself as a front runner in what is a hugely competitive market.

The brokerage, which caters primarily to high net worth investor clients, has shot up the ranking, securing third position overall.

So, what is the company’s key to success?

Managing director Jason Back says ALIC delivers a customer experience that is second to none.

“Everyone says they deliver a good client experience – I guess it is one of those throwaway lines – at ALIC, however, we believe we provide an excellent client experience,” Mr Back says

The data would suggest he is correct.

Of ALIC’s business, 40 per cent is repeat while the remaining 60 per cent is referral, coming both from clients and business partners.

At present, the company generates more than 400 leads from its business partners – a number ALIC wants to grow substantially over the coming 12 months.

“That is nowhere near where we need it to be,” ALIC’s director and Elite Business Writer Mark Davis says.

“At present, we are referring about 1,100 leads to our business partners each year. We have always been of the belief that our aim should be to make sure the businesses we work with are successful. If our business partners are successful, then we will be as well.”

Mr Davis says the company takes the same approach with its clients.

“If our clients are successful, then we will be too – which is why we target high net worth investors,” he says.

“All our research indicates that investors are looking for ease of process, clear communication and a broker who has a good knowledge of the property market.

“At the end of the day, we see that as the ticket to the dance. Any broker worth their salt should be doing all of that and more anyway. We deliver education, and I believe that is our point of difference in the market.

“We want to build confidence in our clients so that when they are at auction, or when they go out with the buyer’s agent, they have a strategy in place and their options have been considered.

“We want our clients to ask about property strategies rather than ‘How much can I borrow?’

“We aim to understand the client, who they are, what they are about and every part of what they want. What is their appetite? What is their cash flow? What is their gearing and what is their comfort level? We need to know their lifestyle.

“Ninety-nine per cent of brokers don’t understand that the broking model is not transactional. We target investors because it is more fulfilling, it is a better experience. We have better clients, longer loan terms, less bad debt. You get up out of bed to do this – because it is so rewarding.

“The mortgage is more important than a transaction. We need to talk about strategy. We want to talk about wealth creation. We want our clients to be successful and that won’t come with buying property and paying them off over 30 years.”

ALIC’s decision to target specific property buyers has certainly paid dividends for the brokerage, proving success can be built through specialisation and an unwavering commitment to giving the borrower even more than they need.


An unwavering commitment to excellent customer service can help a brokerage settle millions each year by producing repeat and referral business opportunities. However, a savvy marketing campaign can help a company generate new leads and take a company even closer to its business goals.

Just ask Aussie.

The brokerage, now in its 21st year, is well known among consumers and brokers alike.

Aussie has a formidable brand presence in the marketplace, but to build a strong brand, a company must first have a strong marketing strategy, says Aussie’s Stuart Tucker.

“Last year, we changed our marketing strategy to incorporate the ‘It’s smart to ask’ advertising campaign,” Mr Tucker says.

“We put a lot of media weight behind the campaign and it proved to be very successful. From that February/March period when we launched the campaign, we saw a 40 per cent increase year-on-year in our lead generation to the extent where we had to pull some of the media back because we almost had too many leads for the brokers to handle.

“Our self-generated lead numbers were also up 25 per cent.”

At the same time as Aussie launched the ‘It’s smart to ask’ campaign, the brokerage also launched a new part of the Aussie website, ‘ask Aussie’, which encourages borrowers to submit their mortgage-related questions.

“In the first 12 months, we had more than 80,000 people ask us questions,” he says. “I thought we would get maybe 100 a week, but it really exceeded our expectations” – proof of the incredible cut-through the Aussie brand has in the marketplace.

Mr Tucker adds that the company plans to build on its very successful marketing strategy.

“We have some radio adverts nationally at the moment and we basically follow an ‘always on marketing’ approach,” he explains. “We are on TV three out of the four weeks in a month. In addition, we have a digital strategy that is always on. We might make a few tweaks to the creative in July/August this year, but the basic premise will stay the same.

“John [Symond] will continue to be our spokesperson and we will continue to have that challenging and provocative ‘It’s smart to ask’ marketing campaign.”

While Aussie has the size and economies of scale to launch a national marketing campaign, not all brokerages enjoy this advantage.

That said, according to Mr Tucker, it is important for all companies to have a marketing strategy, regardless of their size.

“A marketing strategy should stretch from a company level down to a broker level,” he says. “At Aussie, we have a platform in place that delivers week-in week-out support at a company level and delivers tens of thousands of leads to our brokers. On top of that, we have state-based marketing managers in each state and they put together a calendar of activity that supports our national strategy.

“This really helps bring the Aussie brand to life in local communities. If you can develop a marketing campaign that is consistent from the top down, you will no doubt be successful.”

The strategy appears to have paid off and Aussie had a banner sales year in 2012.

Store growth was strong and is set to become even stronger this year, with the brokerage recently opening its 150th franchise shop.

In addition, Aussie’s executive director, James Symond, says the company’s sales team productivity has also been very strong.

“Our sales team numbers may not have grown substantially, but we have been focusing on our productivity,” Mr Symond says. “We have created an environment where our sales people aren’t forced to look for opportunities elsewhere.

“Our brokers are staying with us for longer than ever before. Over 55 per cent of all our brokers in the Aussie group have been with us for over five years.

“Because they are with us for longer, they are ultimately writing more business.

“At Aussie, we insisted all of our brokers be at least diploma-qualified long before the MFAA demanded it. We have always been focused on strong education and we continue to encourage further training. We host quarterly business forums to ensure our brokers are constantly learning and developing their skills.

“By making sure our brokers are better informed, and in a better environment, we can ensure they write more business.”

VOLUME (2012)
1 / Aussie (2nd)
2 / Mortgage Choice (1st)
3 / Loan Market (4th)
4 / eChoice (new entrant)
5 / Club Financial (3rd)


Mortgage Choice has gone from strength to strength over the past 20 years thanks to the group’s innovation and willingness to be a market leader.

The Adviser spoke to CEO Michael Russell about the brokerage’s latest successful venture – financial planning

We are in the midst of one of the most exciting periods in the company’s 21-year history. Having launched our brand new financial planning franchise in October last year, we are incredibly busy. The good news is that the soft launch of Mortgage Choice Financial Planning is delivering very well on both our customer and franchisee propositions, which has everyone up on their toes.

When you talk about diversification – Mortgage Choice is setting a higher benchmark. We have expanded our offering, helping customers to source commercial and personal loans, asset finance, deposit bonds and providing referrals for risk and general insurances. However, the addition of our new financial planning business will see us catering to a broader range of financial needs for an ever growing number of Australians.

Whilst we believe that catering to a broader range of needs provides a very compelling proposition to customers, we also firmly believe that the adviser and the broker can’t be the same person.

Mortgage Choice Financial Planning as of May has nine franchisees up and running. Our target was to have eight to ten franchises open for business by June 30 this year, and it looks like we will comfortably accomplish this goal. This is an incredible achievement by an equally incredible team.

Already, the proposition is attracting a pipeline of demand from the new generation of financial advisers who understand that the advice relationship is a long-term partnership with the client.

I believe Mortgage Choice’s move into financial planning is the ultimate diversification play. While the industry continues to debate the merits of diversification, we are embracing the growth strategy and in the process are building better businesses.

Put simply, diversification needs to be viewed as the vehicle with which to drive increased earnings and build enduring value, while better satisfying the ever growing demands of our mortgage customers.

The global financial crisis (GFC) created a lasting paradigm shift that has adversely impacted credit advise-only businesses in four different ways. 
Firstly, in the post-GFC climate, there is now a significant tendency for mortgage holders to deleverage.

Secondly, with the correction in the property market, loan size growth is destined to be flat to nominal, which is a significant departure from pre-GFC years.

Thirdly, the medium-term outlook for housing credit growth is somewhere in the vicinity of 5 per cent, which is a far cry from the 10 to 15 per cent increase in the pre-GFC years.

Fourth and finally, broker commissions had a haircut. The dilution of these four, once very crucial growth drivers, should lead credit-only businesses to the conclusion that a new growth driver needs to be introduced and we see that as being diversification.

Brokers are, no matter which way you look at it, working harder for less money – so it pays to diversify.

The other important half of the argument is the consumer proposition. Our research showed us that customers really do want more from their broker. As word spreads that Australians are significantly under-insured, more are wanting to make sure they are adequately protected to cope with life’s unexpected events. They are also seeking advice around their superannuation savings as they start to plan or transition into retirement. 

We retain our steely focus to deliver upon the ‘ACT’ strategy we put in place last year.

So, with that in mind, we are presently focused on ‘A’cquiring more market share. To do this, we need to increase the effectiveness of our marketing strategy. Our new marketing campaign ‘Know the Feeling’ is proving very successful and is now fully integrated into our corporate and franchise businesses.

Our target market has responded positively, which is very pleasing. Since its launch in March, the campaign has resulted in the highest number of unique visitors to our website for over two years.

Alongside that, we are completing the ‘C’ part of the ‘ACT’ strategy, which is focused on cross selling our customers into our new financial planning business.

Our financial planning proposition aims to provide real, transparent advice that is relevant and accessible to our customers. Mortgage Choice intends to revolutionise the financial planning space in the same way we did the mortgage broking industry over 20 years ago.

LOAN BOOK (2012)
1 / Aussie (2nd)
2 / Mortgage Choice (1st)
3 / Loan Market (4th)
4 / eChoice (new entrant)
5 / Club Financial (3rd)

1 / Aussie (2nd)
2 / Mortgage Choice (1st)
3 / Loan Market (new entrant)
4 / eChoice (4th)
5 / Club Financial (new entrant)

Top 25 Brokerages 2013
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