'Do you want fries with that' mentality diluting broker skills

by Adam Smith03 Apr 2012

The industry has been urged to avoid a “do you want fries with that” mentality as brokers increasingly seek out ways to diversify their income.

Debt Rescue operations manager Rachael Witton has stated that brokers looking to diversify should make sure they do not fall prey to a “dilution of skills” as a result. While Witton said diversification was necessary, she called on brokers to be “traffic controllers” in terms of referral partnerships rather than trying to work across a range of financial services.

“If [diversification] is delivered correctly and someone has the necessary qualifications, by all means, go for it. But if they’ve been a finance broker forever and just done a couple units in financial planning, I don’t think it’s the right thing,” she said.

Witton argued that the “one-stop shop” model of holistic financial services was possible, but was rarely executed well.

“A lot of people have a mechanic, and a dentist, and a financial planner and a finance broker, and don’t want one person to have all those answers. I don’t believe one person or one firm can deliver all that. There are those out there who are doing it well, but they’re not found on every corner and I don’t think they should be,” she said.

Instead, Witton said brokers should look to referral relationships. She commented that brokers should position themselves as experts in securing finance, but also be willing to admit the areas in which they do not have expertise.

“You’ll always look better in the eyes of the client by identifying what you don’t know and finding someone more appropriate to meet the client’s needs in that area. I realise we have to shore up our client base, but I don’t want to see us move into a ‘do you want fries with that’ mentality. Brokers need to be proud of their profession and stand up and say ‘this is our profession’,” she said.

Witton also does not believe brokers have to fear the foray of financial planners into the industry, but can instead form healthy referral relationships with planners without the need for “feeling threatened or feeling like we’re competing”.

“With our expertise in this area, I don’t think financial planners really want to be crossing over into finance broking. Each one has its own specialty and needs its own qualification. If you’re working on the fringes, something has got to give,” Witton said.


  • by Rex 3/04/2012 11:42:38 AM

    I have to agree and disagree with Rachael's view. There is benefit in managing the client relationship and providing more than just a 'referral'. It is about how the client is approached, engaged and how the overall relationship evidences value.

    The GP is the centre of health management but doesn't perform surgery, undertake cardiac procedures, or provide psychiatric interventions. They simply manage the client relationship.

    Exactly the same can occur, but it requires an understanding of how to go about doing that and skilling up in the necessary approach and process—not just selling a mortgage and then flicking everything else on as an afterthought.

  • by Jeff Mazzini- AAMC Training Group 3/04/2012 10:16:38 PM

    Witton’s comments have been read and said for the past 5 years at least and these same comments will continue to be aired to anyone that cares to spend the time reading them. Let’s look at it from another point of view; the hardest thing for any client in today’s fast moving environment is to find a trusted advisor that can actually give them advice across many areas to meet their needs.
    You never weaken your profession or professional standing by being educated and qualified enough to be able to gather all the information form a client and then in turn provide them with solutions to meet all their needs.
    The issues we face in Australia is work practices, as many professionals will be lucky to see on an average 1 to 2 clients a day as they are too busy doing the paper stuff. Break it down even more and look at the costs versus income, it costs around $20.00 to $25.00 an hour to do the paper stuff and a true sales person can earn around $120 to $150 and hour, so why are sales people doing the paper stuff.
    The future business model will look like this, a client rings their trusted advisor (you) for whatever issue they may have in the financial arena and the financial advisor can legally discuss matters and then flick onto others to undertake the paper work and process.
    If you are across what is happening in all the other professions then you will also understand the old days of just doing or just being licensed to talk about one area of the clients needs is under threat. Australia is a great country its full of choices and we all have the choice to remain focused on one service to clients or offer ‘Do you want fries with that'

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