The head of a West Australian brokerage who quickly built it up from nothing to 46 staff and 25 brokers says he could not have done it if he was aligned with a big aggregator.
As a newcomer to the country less than six years ago, James Pibworth was given three weeks by his UK-based wife Carla to find them jobs and a place to live.
“I did it in one and spent the next two weeks in the pub getting to know everyone in Perth,” he said.
But jokes aside, Pibworth – who is now director of Iconic Home Loans – said on his first day in Perth he found small aggregator Specialist Finance Group through the Yellow Pages, and they placed him with Resolve Finance.
After seven months at Resolve, learning Australian mortgage broking processes, Pibworth approached Specialist for help setting up his own brokerage.
“The managing director William Lockett
was really involved in helping me set up my business. Because I had no experience with aggregators, I thought that’s what all aggregators did. They helped with licences, recruitment; they even offered me space to rent without having to pay anything for the first couple of months to help me get on my feet.
“They did absolutely everything they could to help. I now know that not every aggregator does this. We went from nothing to 46 staff in five years – it’s been a hell of a journey.”
Pibworth strongly recommends brokers who are looking to start their own business should approach a smaller aggregator rather than a large one.
“Because the aggregator’s smaller, I can meet with the managing director within one hour of asking to set up an appointment. Smaller aggregators are nimble and more flexible and that’s the key.”
Even though Iconic’s volumes and commissions are getting bigger each month, Pibworth believes he would still “have to wait a month” to see the managing director of a big aggregator.
After the initial Specialist contract ran out, Iconic looked around at other aggregators as part of business due diligence.
“But we found we couldn’t get the things we have at Specialist. The big aggregators offer big marketing, but it’s all chargeable. We pay a lot less but our software is done for us, the marketing is done.
“When it comes down to it, the aggregator is there to pay out commissions, but smaller aggregators are your business partner.”
A one-man broking band thinks a big aggregator is necessary to get trail, but people need to consider what a smaller aggregator can offer them in the way of a tailored experience, Pibworth said.
“When I was starting out, everyone recommended I should go to a big aggregator, but I’m glad I didn’t.”
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