For almost two years now, the mortgage ﬁnance industry has been shaken by an all-encompassing health crisis that has affected how brokers do business, as well as the economy that underpins their success.
COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the property market, but instead of causing a decline, it has pumped up prices as many Australians have rushed to purchase homes due to a ‘fear of missing out’, or FOMO.
Record-low interest rates and the work-from-home phenomenon have also encouraged plenty of renovations and reﬁnances.
Brokers have taken up new technology and ways of communicating and shown their resilience and ability to adapt to a challenging environment.
Mortgage and commercial ﬁnance brokers have the skills and knowledge to assist homeowners and businesses in securing the best loans for their needs.
There is a growing desire among consumers to use the services of brokers to help them purchase properties, or reﬁnance, or fund their businesses.
According to the MFAA’s latest Industry Intelligence Service, 12th Edition report, the broker channel settled $122.81bn in residential home loans in the six months from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021, the highest value seen in any six-month period since the MFAA began reporting in 2015, and a rise of 24.4% year-on-year.
Mortgage brokers facilitated 57.5% of all residential home loans in 2021, the second-highest ﬁgure for a March quarter. They are also increasingly turning to commercial loans: the value of commercial loans settled by mortgage brokers reached its highest-ever value, breaking through the $10bn mark for the ﬁrst time, at $10.27bn, a 5.94% rise year-on-year.
Australian Broker set out to discover Australia’s fastest-growing mortgage brokerages for its Fast Brokerages awards.
The research team invited brokerages to nominate themselves and detail their revenue and loan settlement growth between FY20 and FY21. They then selected 46 winners based on brokerages with more than 30% growth in combined revenue and settlement volume, and other achievements. Within this list, the team also highlighted Fast Starters – brokerages that are three years old or less.
Australian Broker spoke to a few of the Fast Brokerages winners.
Rishi Bhatia, who runs KRIA Mortgage Managers in Templestowe, Melbourne, says being named a 2021 Fast Brokerage is a signiﬁcant achievement.
“Extremely ecstatic to be recognised, and I want to acknowledge the support of my team and of outsource Financial,” says Bhatia.
“This is our ﬁrst award from the industry. It’s humbling to get the recognition, and we are grateful to our customers who keep coming back and referring us to their friends and family. We are a single broker ﬁrm with a small team of two. One new broker is joining the team in December 2021.”
Bhatia says his brokerage’s rapid growth has been the result of word-of-mouth referrals.
“The main reason customers refer us to their network is because we go that extra mile to listen to them and guide them to success. We are genuinely happy to see them succeed. I believe that if customers are happy, they will tell their close networks, but if they are not, they will tell everybody.
“We are happy to continue our organic growth, always focusing on our customers’ best interest.”
Melbourne-based Empower Wealth, which aggregates with AFG, is riding a wave of success, winning a Fast Brokerages award just a month after being named Resimac Brokerage of the Year – Diversiﬁ cation at the 2021 Australian Mortgage Awards.
Head of mortgage broking Ben Magnus says the team is very humbled by the recognition, which will drive the success of Empower Wealth as the brokerage continues to grow.
“This award recognises the hard work the team have put in during the pandemic, which is when we embarked on our accelerated growth strategy,” Magnus says.
“We focused our energy on building a Broker Academy and training our support staff to then transition them into brokers. It’s been the best investment we could have made. Look after your people and they will look after your clients.”
“Focus, determination and backing ourselves is the foundation for our success over the past 12 months.
“We have a strong marketing strategy that’s relevant to the current position of the property market, and this attracts clients to us – the diversiﬁed business services we offer also mean we have a constant stream of engaged clients.”
A number of other AFG-affiliated brokerages have been named Fast Brokerages, including Base Home Loans and Action Finance Mortgage Solutions, both highlighted in the Fast Starters list.
Karen Hall has been a broker for 15 years. She started Action Finance Mortgage Solutions in Mackay, Queensland, in 2018 as a solo-broker mobile lending service.
Her ﬁrst employee started in July 2019. They moved into an office in November, and there are now four full-time and two casual team members.
Hall says the team is excited and thankful to receive a Fast Brokerage award, and it’s “lovely to receive recognition for our hard work and dedication to customers”.
“We are very fortunate to be part of a community that is very supportive of local business, so this is a big thank you to those who have contributed to our growth.
“Purchasing a home can sometimes be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Our approach is to guide and navigate our customers through the enormous amount of information available and to provide a no-fuss, honest and efficient experience.”
AFG head of sales and distribution Chris Slater congratulated all the winners.
He says for 27 years AFG has passionately supported some of the industry’s best in their quest to become successful.
“We are delighted that many of the best businesses in Australia today choose AFG as their partner, and I think it shows we know how to help them get there,” Slater says.
“Our brokers are entrepreneurial at heart and are continually looking to improve how they win, onboard and serve more customers.
“Our analytics, marketing, ﬂexible commission systems and technology, combined with our ﬁnancial strength, transparency, our on-the-ground support and our ability to keep them safe around compliance and cyber risk, are some of the reasons our brokers prosper.”
Up Loans, which aggregates with Choice, opened seven years ago in Launceston, Tasmania, with two brokers and two other staff members.
“We were ex-real estate agents with no ﬁnance background,” says Up Loans director Kirsty Dunphey. “Since then we’ve grown to a team of 14 with four brokers. We have one commercial specialist and two, including myself, who are resi specialists, and one all-rounder doing car loans, personal loans and residential.”
Dunphey says the team are “over the moon” to receive a Fast Brokerage award.
“To come from a small state in a regional area and to be experiencing such fast growth is epic for us, and we’re really proud to show what a team of passionate female brokers in a tiny state can do.”
What sets Up Loans apart is client communication.
“We want to exceed our client’s expectations – if they’re asking us where a ﬁle is at, we’re failing. It’s about recognising that we’re part of one of the biggest journeys – ﬁnancial and emotional – our clients will go on in their lives, and respecting the magnitude of that and creating an experience that’ll make them want to tell their friends and family.”
Tom Uhlich was an Aussie Home Loans franchise broker for 10 years but decided to set up his own Brisbane brokerage, Boss Money, in December 2015.
“As I have an accountant background, my main market is self-employed, investors and more of the high-net-worth clients,” Uhlich says.
He describes the Fast Brokerage award as “totally amazing”.
“I have put a lot of time and effort into the business and kept reﬁning it as the market has been changing – more emphasis on making it more digital and less old-school, and I’m so excited it has paid off.
“My partner, Summer, joined the business over 12 months ago, which helped me push the button on taking it to another level. We organised VAs to run the back office, which has freed up our time to do what we love: looking after clients and marketing.
“Finsure has been amazing. We met with other aggregators in the industry, and while some were bigger and had fancy presentations, they have delivered in all areas.”
Australian Broker invited submissions for its Fast Brokerages awards on 31 August 2021 as the publication sought to recognise brokerages across the country that did not just weather the COVID-19 storm but actively thrived.
The research team asked brokerages to list their revenue totals and settlement volumes for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, in addition to other growth milestones they wanted to highlight. They then evaluated the nominations received to determine which brokerages experienced standout growth.
The 2021 Fast Brokerages awards are given to brokerages that achieved more than 30% growth in combined revenue and settlement volume.
A total of 46 brokerages made the final list of Fast Brokerages this year. Australian Broker also highlights 13 brokerages as Fast Starters that have been in business for three years or less, making their mark on the mortgage landscape. These brokerages confirmed their resilience and cemented their strong positions in the Australian mortgage industry.
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