With the property marketing booming and half the country affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, brokers need all the support they can get when it comes to helping clients.
It’s a tough gig being a broker, looking after customers who may be experiencing financial stress, navigating an ever-changing myriad of regulatory requirements, determining what’s the best loan product from a huge range of lenders, and dealing with slow turnaround times.
The challenges are even more difficult for brokers who are starting their own businesses and trying to build a customer base from the ground up. And this is where franchise brokerages or networks offer brokers a huge advantage, by providing the backing of large, well-oiled machines that have the support staff, infrastructure and expertise to ensure brokers have the best chance of success.
To discover the best franchise brokerages in Australia in 2021, focusing on those that offer the best support for their brokers, Australian Broker sought feedback from franchise brokerages as well as brokers across the nation.
We asked the franchise brokerages to describe how they supported revenue generation for their brokers through areas such as lead generation, marketing, CRMs, referral partnerships and business development.
We also asked them about their back-office support for brokers, such as HR, compliance, lending support and IT.
Australian Broker then surveyed hundreds of brokers across the country to gauge their views on franchise brokerages for the 5-Star Awards. Brokers were asked to determine what features of a franchise were most important to them.
Brokers then rated the franchises across 12 criteria: lending panel, lead generation, accuracy and speed of commission payments, CRM, compliance, responsiveness, IT, training, value for money, marketing support, brand recognition, and referral network support.
Finally, brokers picked seven franchise brokerages as the best in the industry. These brokerages achieved more than 80% ratings across all criteria.
Sam Boer, general manager partnerships and product development – financial services at REA Group, which owns Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers, says Smartline is incredibly proud to receive the 5-Star Franchise Brokerage Award.
“It’s testament to the strong and supportive culture we’ve built and nurtured over many years,” says Boer.
“Joining the REA Group family strengthened our culture even further, with people at the heart of the organisation. Looking ahead, we’re excited for what’s to come with the Mortgage Choice integration with a view of even more opportunity to better support our brokers.”
Boer says supporting its brokers is core to Smartline’s strategy.
“We believe that having a supportive culture is the key to a long-term, healthy and sustainable franchisee and franchisor relationship. As a team we have shared values and are equally passionate about delivering exceptional service for our clients, and success for our franchisees. Our employees and brokers work together – more like a family than a typical aggregator–broker business relationship.”
Boer says being a broker and running a business, focusing on growth, being compliant and hiring and managing employees, is hard.
“Being part of a business model that supports you in all these aspects means you can spend more time focused on clients and their needs. In addition, Smartline is backed by REA Group, owner of Australia’s leading property site, realestate.com.au.”
Boer says Smartline has experienced record loan growth in the past 12 months, as well as record growth in recruitment.
“Over the coming year we will come together as one business with another great franchise business in Mortgage Choice, and in doing so we expect to see these trends continue as we unlock the superpowers of all three businesses – REA Group, Mortgage Choice and Smartline.”
Aussie’s CEO of distribution, Brad Cramb, says the company is thrilled to have been voted by the industry and brokers as one of the country’s top franchisee brokerages.
“This 5-Star Franchise Brokerage Award is a true testament to the strength of our franchisee and broker network who consistently work hard to deliver choice and great outcomes for our customers,” Cramb says. “I’d like to congratulate the entire Aussie network on this fantastic recognition.
“We maintain a very strong focus on our family-style business culture and support for our stores and brokers, with deep levels of engagement, transparency, and strong partnerships.
“When you are part of Aussie, you gain access to a range of pathways through a multichannel distribution model that empowers brokers with industry-leading training and development that continues well beyond accreditation.”
Cramb says that, with Aussie being part of Lendi Group, its brokers and franchisees form the largest retail mortgage brokerage in Australia and the fifth-largest distributor of mortgages behind the big four.
“This powerful combination between the number one retail brand with the number one online platform business allows our franchisees and brokers to grow their business their way.”
MoneyQuest managing director Michael Russell says the 5-Star Award is a great endorsement of the amazing team MoneyQuest has assembled in its first five years.
“It validates how hard our team works to support our brokers, and our unwavering commitment to equipping them with the skills and tools they need to run thriving mortgage broking businesses,” Russell says.
“Our head office team members are specialists in their fields. They have earned the respect of our brokers through the exceptional work that they do and the personalised service and support they provide to our franchise network.
“All of our staff – including the executive team – are broker-facing. Everyone arrives at work with a broker-service mindset.”
Russell says MoneyQuest provides its brokers with almost everything they need to operate and grow successful businesses. This includes in-depth induction programs, regular PD sessions, an in-house compliance team that educates brokers, a marketing team that creates bespoke material for franchisees and manages their websites and social media, and an in-house systems trainer that helps brokers navigate software platforms.
“We are also a boutique franchise group, which allows us to provide personalised, high-quality service and hands-on support to our brokers and cater to their individual business needs.”
He says MoneyQuest’s settled loan volumes rose by 45.6% in FY21, with monthly lodgement now in excess of $400m. It also added 20 franchise owners.
“The resources, tools, education, training and mentorship provided to brokers within franchise groups is invaluable. However, what is little known is that, upon exit, franchise businesses generally sell for a much higher multiple of net trail than businesses within the aggregation environment.”
Andrew Cowan, managing director of Redrock Group, says the 5-Star Award is a huge honour and “we’re really quite humbled in being recognised as a 5-Star franchise”.
“We’ve worked very hard to bring to the market a unique franchise broking model that really packs a lot of value,” says Cowan. “We’re really proud to be recognised by brokers as offering a really attractive broking business proposition. We truly believe we’ve got one of the industry’s most flexible and rewarding business models.”
Cowan says Redrock Group maintains a strong relationship with brokers, hosting PD days and monthly webinar programs.
“We have a dedicated support team who make themselves available each day to support our broker partners and their individual needs.
“We provide ongoing support and guidance throughout our broker partners’ business journey. Our relationships are built on reliability and honesty.
“We coach our network brokers with accurate and practical advice and assistance that always aims to put our brokers in the right direction from the outset.”
Cowan says Redrock Group is experiencing record loan settlement volumes month-on-month.
“We are seeing upwards of a 25% increase in annual settlement volumes from FY20. It’s an incredible achievement by our brokers given the times, and it just shows the growth in our national network and the strength in the broker proposition for Australian borrowers.”
There has also been unprecedented growth in new Redrock Group recruits, with 60 new brokers joining in the last year.
“It’s a real testament to our systems, value proposition and standing in the marketplace.”
Australian Broker carried out extensive research to determine this year’s best franchise brokerages in Australia. Researchers contacted franchise brokerages and asked them a series of questions, including: What is your value proposition to brokers? What revenue generation support do you provide your brokers?
Franchises were asked to show examples relating to lead generation, market, referral networks, CRM and business development.
They were also requested to detail their non-revenue-related support of brokers, including lending support, compliance, HR, mentoring and IT.
Australian Broker then surveyed more than 400 brokers, who were asked what features of a franchise brokerage were most important to them. They were then asked to rate franchise brokerages across 12 criteria: lending panel, lead generation, accuracy and speed of commission payments, CRM, compliance, responsiveness, IT, training, value for money, marketing support, brand recognition and referral network support.
Ten franchises were shortlisted and 5-Star Franchise Brokerage Awards were presented to the franchises that achieved more than 80% ratings across all criteria.