“Our aim was always to be the masters of our trade, so we get really top quality specialists in each area, and we don’t really cross areas. We just have go-to people within the group, but the client gets to build the relationship within the group. Then whatever their needs are, we can direct them to the right specialist. We find that’s what they want. They want to come to one place that can meet all their needs,” he said.
The journey to diversification
The 500 Group’s service offering didn’t come into being overnight. Vidakovic said he started as a purely residential broker, but soon saw the need for expanding into commercial finance.
“I thought that the business clients weren’t really being looked after by the banks. They felt very threatened and very scared to shop anywhere else or to see what was out there, because they felt if their business banker didn’t support them they would be very vulnerable,” he said.
With this in mind, he said the business took on commercial finance to help advocate for its business clients.
“What we’ve done is empower the client to have a finance professional on their side to best represent their business to the banks. We come in and write 40 or 50 page reports, do all the analysis work and then make the business banker’s role easier as well in regards to processing the opportunity,” he said.
With the disparity in customer satisfaction between banks’ retail and business customers, Vidakovic said business brokers can also serve as a valuable asset to banks.
“I think the way we position it is working together as a team. The client still has to feel that not only the product and opportunity is a match, but so is the business banker. That relationship is built by us,” he said.
Vidakovic said the company only added commercial broking to its offering in 2012, but that it has already grown to 60% of The 500 Group’s business. Around the same time, the company added financial advice.
“We brought in financial planning as well with Wealth 500, so we can take care of insurance needs and superannuation needs,” he said. “It gives us great diversification with The 500 Group as an asset overall that then intertwines into each other.”
Six months ago, the company rounded out its offering with Lease 500.
“We got, once again, one of the best leasing experts within the banks to come across. She’s already shooting the lights out, so we’re expecting big things next year.”