The head of commercial broking at NAB, Chris Thomas, explains the bank's unique approach to working with commercial brokers.
The constantly changing landscape of the economy presents Australian business owners with both great opportunities and testing challenges. The latest NAB Monthly Business Survey indicates that, while there has been a tentative recovery in the nation’s non-mining investment activity, with confidence ratings hovering around +4 to +8, the Australian economic outlook remains mixed. The need for greater insight and advice has never been in more demand by the business community and, as a committed partner of the broker channel, NAB takes a unique approach in partnering with commercial brokers to support the growing needs of business owners.
Every day we witness the terrific value commercial brokers provide to their clients. This role brings about tremendous responsibility as many of these clients see brokers as trusted advisers, guiding them through important financial decisions that could make or break the future of their business.
One potential difficulty brokers face as they address their clients’ growing needs is keeping up with and adapting to change. As an example, in the last 12 months the Australian dollar has fluctuated significantly and is now on its way to a 21 per cent depreciation against the US dollar. The ability of a broker to provide depth and breadth of advice across a wide landscape of industries and issues, including foreign exchange, is a key consideration for those moving into the commercial space.
With many brokers considering or already having made a move across into commercial, we foresee that the ‘simple transaction’ end of the market may become increasingly saturated over time. In this environment, it is the brokers who can provide deeper insight and advice, and create unique value for their clients (who will be the real winners).
As such, NAB feels strongly that our role as a lender is not limited to supporting brokers by simply providing basic products and services. We feel the real value in a broker-bank partnership is working together to provide business owners with solutions that assist them to build prosperity within their enterprises. Furthermore, we see the quality of the end solution more often requires specialist advice, so it makes sense that bringing the best of NAB – Australia’s biggest and most experienced business lender – to the table is a powerful thing.
We are proud to support brokers with access to some of the most experienced commercial bankers in the third-party market. These bankers bring a deep expertise in commercial lending, inclusive of equipment finance and home lending. More importantly, they also provide access to a huge range of specialists who can offer additional insights on complex customer needs such as import/export trade, invoice financing and foreign exchange risk management. Our bankers’ comprehensive experience in this space also means they are quickly able to identify which specialist needs to be involved in which client conversation.
Our team is extremely conscious that time is precious for brokers, and that getting solutions right first time is of paramount importance to their business-owner clients. For this reason, we have ensured that the way we coordinate our banker and specialist effort in support of brokers is responsive and efficient. It all starts with bringing our bankers into the picture early and working collaboratively with the broker and client to come up with a tailored solution.
We would encourage all brokers who are thinking of entering the commercial space for the first time, or are working on improving their commercial offering to clients, to consider implementing this collaborative approach. By leveraging the specialist skills and experience of the lender you are working with, and taking a creative approach to problem solving, brokers can add significant value to commercial clients at the more complex end of the spectrum.
Chris Thomas is the head of commercial broking at NAB.