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Someone to lean on
The relationship between business development manager and broker is probably the most important person-to-person constant in the lending equation. Ties between brokers and their customers vary widely depending on the customer, while the fickle nature of the lending environment tends to keep relations in a state of dynamic flux.
Given the unpredictable waters encountered during the pandemic and the new and uncharted economic situation in 2022, the BDM nexus has proved a stable tether that many brokers have been glad to hang on to.
Sure, commission payments, IT support and easy-to-use CRM systems all loom large on the list of items to consider when choosing an aggregator or lender. But it is precisely when the currents are difficult to read that a broker needs to be fully confident that their BDM can be the anchor for their strategy and business.
“With us entering into what looks like an increasing interest rate environment, the services that our brokers offer will be in more demand than ever”
Alastair McCosh, Resimac
It is not unusual for brokers to gripe that they want “better BDM support” without really articulating what this would entail. But there are common threads that can be pulled on to reveal just what it is that brokers value the most about BDMs.
Australian Broker asked 300 brokers to find top-performing BDMs based on four criteria: customer service, responsiveness, communication, and product knowledge.
More than 600 nominations were received, roughly one-third more than last year’s number. Only 35 made the final cut with an aggregate 5-Star rating. Within this group, 21 BDMs achieved a perfect score across all four categories, representing the cream of the profession. That’s less than 4% of those nominated, showing just how difficult it is to perform consistently well across all the areas that brokers consider important. There were even four BDMs who made the 5-Star list for the second year running.
“Treating all brokers equally whether they are seasoned in the industry for 20+ years or brand new is what creates trust and relationship building for the long term”
Omar Moussa, St George
The big picture
The most difficult category in which to achieve a perfect score was customer service, and this was also the criterion that sorted the sheep from the other four-legged farm animals further down the field.
Alastair McCosh, a 5-Star BDM at Resimac, says that the key to good service is to always focus on the broker and customer, never forgetting who the transaction is helping.
“Don’t lose sight of the fact that there is a family at the end of the transaction whose lives potentially will benefit significantly from getting their loan approved and settled,” he says.
He adds that it is important to be able to take the unexpected in one’s stride, as unforeseen events happen all the time in the brokerage world.
“One of the key attributes of a good BDM is to be nimble and able to adapt and respond to these situations quickly and professionally.”
This goes back to the BDM’s role as an anchor for the broker when conditions become rough. McCosh sees the post-pandemic transition period as one where brokers will be in higher demand and needing good advice from BDMs with increasing frequency.
“With us entering into what looks like an increasing interest rate environment, the services that our brokers offer will be in more demand than ever. My challenge is to make sure my brokers know what I can do to support them and their clients.”
The past year put many BDMs to the test with the challenges thrown at them by the pandemic, ranging from the public health crisis to helping brokers navigate the rapid rollout of new technology to cope with the switch to remote interaction.
The BDMs on the 5-Star list were all highly responsive to the changing conditions, riding the COVID wave like seasoned surfers.
Omar Moussa at St George, another 5-Star BDM, says the key to the last year and the future is to always keep up to date with changes in one’s own business and externally, including regulatory changes. His advice to peers is to adapt to change accordingly and educate the people around them on what is required to achieve a positive experience.
“What works today might not work tomorrow,” he says.
He had seen many new brokers enter the industry over the last 12 months, which was one reason for industry growth, but this didn’t mean the old hands were less important.
“Treating all brokers equally whether they are seasoned in the industry for 20+ years or brand new is what creates trust and relationship building for the long term.”
“It’s all about supporting members to de-risk their businesses, to strategise, implement and then keep the loop going for continuous improvement”
Haley Bellamy, Australian Finance Group
Navigating the fray
Responsiveness will continue to play an outsize role going into 2023 as a huge number of people in the mortgage game have never experienced a rising interest rate environment.
Moussa says that timing on locking in good deals and keeping a close eye on market sentiment are key. Customers coming off a fixed term are already becoming a major dynamo for the market.
“The focus in 2022 is trying to educate on how to minimise any impact to customers coming off their fixed rates. Borrowing capacity will also be a large factor,” says Moussa.
The market will need to adjust as budgets adapt monthly living expenses to the new reality to create a buffer against further rate rises, he adds. COVID-related impacts were larger than expected in 2021 and demand rocketed for certain types of funding, including for construction, property investment and loans for specialised securities.
But looking ahead, some customers may need help understanding how managing risk better will boost their prospects, says Brijesh Mehta, third-party channel manager at Mortgage House.
“Customers [need to] understand the value of good conduct and impact of their lifestyle changes,” he says.
One BDM skill that will help brokers through the new challenges is sound product knowledge. Brokers certainly don’t have time to keep up with the huge range of products on offer and the new ones coming to market. They rely on their BDMs to stay abreast of the information and recommend likely candidates for specific situations.
MyState Bank regional manager Adam Livas says that no email or call should fall by the wayside.
“Brokers know they can trust the information I give them due to the knowledge I have,” he says.
Speed is also crucial to building trust given the large number of lender options available, even if the answer is negative.
“First to the phone wins the loan,” he says. “A quick no is a good no – this allow brokers to find a loan that fits fast, which is integral to their business success, especially in this property market.”
Brokers value having a trusted business partner to strategise with and provide support either through the BDM’s own expertise or by leveraging the expertise of their peers and other industry experts, says Haley Bellamy, partnership manager and 5-Star BDM at Australian Finance Group. This support extends to readying the broker for future trends as both the economy and broker businesses evolve.
“With many members having moved from a sole operator/broker role to becoming a business owner with a team and suddenly finding themselves wearing hats they have never needed to wear in the past, I am excited to continue designing, delivering, and facilitating content and resources to support them in wearing their new hats,” she says.
“It’s all about supporting members to de-risk their businesses, to strategise, implement and then keep the loop going for continuous improvement.”
She says that the broking business was fortunate to be able to turn on a dime and adapt to a work-from-home arrangement smoothly. The return to in-person meetings has proved challenging as ailing colleagues, business partners, clients or family members affect day-to-day plans.
“Personally, I have coped by knowing that I needed support, asking for support and being one of the incredibly fortunate ones who have had people around me who could help,” she says.
“I know most don’t have this luxury, so it’s a blessing I try never to take for granted.”
- Adam Livas
- Anthony Wickremasinghe
National Mortgage Brokers
- Brijesh Mehta
- Brodie Dando
- Cassandra Woodyard
Connective Home Loans
- Chris Tilley
- Craig Dunning
- Daniel Luckin
- Drew Clegg
Pepper Money ANZ
- Gabby Destratis
Advantedge Financial Services
- George Saouma
- Glen Gillespie
Better Mortgage Management
- Haley Bellamy
Australian Finance Group
- Jason Patel
- John Kakakios
- Julie Nguyen
- Kelly Mullen
- Liam Sutcliffe
- Maddie Matthews
- Malcolm Elias
- Omar Ibrahim
St George Bank
- Omar Moussa
St George Bank
- Paras Jones
- Peter Burkhart
- Renzo Perri
- Sally Breeze
- Sam Tang
- Shelley Tetlaw
- Steve Davis
Pepper Money ANZ
- Tes Anderson
- Tim Bingham
HomeSec Business Finance
Brokers were asked to name the BDMs who gave them the best support based on four criteria: customer service, responsiveness, communication, and product knowledge. From close to 600 nominations, the list was whittled down to 140 BDMs, with 35 individuals who were rated excellent across all categories receiving 5-Star awards.