An aggregator at the coalface

by Otiena Ellwand02 Jan 2018

How Finsure’s multidimensional approach to brokers’ businesses is seeing results.

As the managing director of Finsure, an aggregator with 1,300 brokers, 35 staff and a $27bn loan book, there’s no doubt John Kolenda is a busy man, but he still makes time to meet and mentor brokers individually.

“I love helping out brokers,” he says, boasting like a proud parent about some of the standout businesses and marketing strategies Finsure’s brokers have developed with the aggregator’s assistance.

He names brokers who have refined their brand identity, who are giving back to their communities and have grown their businesses from single operators to teams of 20.

“I met yesterday with two brokers, and I spent over five hours of my time going through their individual business plans. Now I do that as the managing director. I’ll still take their call on the weekend if they have an issue; that’s what I expect every one of my employees to do,” he says.

“Everyone within the company is accessible. You can ring anyone. You go to the person who you believe can help you with the solution.”


Finsure has only been around for six years, but its comprehensive business-to-business value proposition was inspired by Kolenda’s experience as a broker himself for a couple years.

“It was constructed from the point of view of a broker and what their needs and wants are as an individual, whether a small business or a large-scale business,” he explains.

Finsure offers a range of in-house services to meet brokers’ diverse business needs and assist them in growing their volumes. Those services include a simple, intuitive proprietary CRM to help brokers save time, effort and money to prioritise the customer journey; lead generation in their local areas; outbound call centre services; a range of website templates for brokers to design their own branded websites, which Finsure will host; legal and taxation services; recruitment services to find ideal candidates for brokers’ businesses; multivertical sales options to facilitate additional revenue opportunities; training and mentoring services, including a 24-month broker academy to train new entrants; annual business planning and sales coaching.

The aggregator’s multipronged strategy has been commended by the industry. In October it was crowned Aggregator of the Year (over 500 brokers) at the Australian Mortgage Awards, and in November it was recognised as one of Australia’s fastest-growing companies with its second consecutive listing in the Australian Financial Review’s Fast 100 list.

Finsure’s focus next year is to continue building on its strong service offerings and support programs, helping brokers to become the sole point of contact for their clients.

A partnership with Freedom Insurance will provide brokers with access to mortgage protection and other insurance products to offer their clients; and integrating utility services into the settlement process will help clients avoid unnecessary headaches, Kolenda says. In return, the broker will be paid a referral fee.

“Through experience we found that if the process is simple and easy and makes sense, you’re more likely to get buy-in from the customer and the broker,” he says.

To complement Finsure’s asset and commercial finance training program that helps brokers learn how to write these loans themselves, the aggregator will also be launching an asset referral solution with fair commission splits for those who would rather not expand into those areas.

Finally, Finsure will also be beefing up its compliance team to keep brokers informed and up to date with ongoing regulatory and policy changes in the market, and to help them build their own processes and structures to stay compliant.

With all the changes in technology and the regulatory landscape, brokers need an aggregator that can provide a supportive foundation and keep them up to speed so there’s no disruption in their workflow.

“Broker market share will go up,” Kolenda says. “Broker access to the broader solutions will help more customers than a traditional one-lender, one-dimensional relationship.”


Why brokers are choosing Finsure
When Nathaniel Nhan Truong was considering starting his own broking business, he turned to Kolenda for advice.

“From the start, I was reluctant and unsure whether to move from a banking role to broking. But meeting with John on numerous occasions, he encouraged me and told me that he would support our business if I came on board, so I decided to make the move,” he says.

“I trusted John’s experience as he has walked the path before, and that experience has helped our business make the right decisions at each stage of the business cycle.”

Truong established The Loan Lounge in 2015 and has had incredible success, settling more than $33m last year. He was named one of MPA magazine’s Young Guns of 2017 and was a finalist at this October’s Australian Mortgage Awards for the Young Gun of the Year – Independent award. He has since added a second broker and a back-office staff member to his team.

“At each stage of the business, whenever I was stuck and had questions I would sit down with the Finsure team or John and he would guide me on what to do next – this helped us to focus on the right things and take our business to the next level,” Truong says.

Truong has carved out a niche for his business, making lending and borrowing about social good rather than just profit. His motto at The Loan Lounge is “Finance a difference”, which he does by donating 10% of the firm’s trail to organisations that work to abolish slavery and end human trafficking. “To see stories of victims set free gives our business purpose and meaning,” he says.

“Everyone within the company is accessible. You can ring anyone. You go to the person who you believe can help you with the solution” - John Kolenda, Finsure

What the future holds for Finsure
Finsure’s purpose and culture is about making a positive difference in the lives of its brokers, Kolenda says.

The aggregator is looking for brokers like Truong, who feel the same way about their clients.

It’s these positive experiences with Finsure – and the results its brokers are achieving – that are helping to get the word out about the aggregator and pique other brokers’ interest, Kolenda says.

“From the top down, every one of our employees will help any broker with any problem … we would expect the broker to do exactly the same by their client.

“They’ve got to do the right thing; they’ve got to be reputable, they’ve got to be honest, they’ve got to be transparent, and if they’re not the same way we are, it’s never going to work.

And that’s paramount. You just don’t need brokers for brokers’ sake,” Kolenda says.

For brokers looking to switch from another aggregator, Finsure’s process is simple. For residential brokers, it involves filling out about 20 pages of a 130-page PDF document. The document then prepopulates every lender accreditation form for them. Sign, send and Finsure completes the rest.

With strong recruitment numbers to close the year, Kolenda wagers that the aggregator will surpass its target of 1,500 brokers by end-June 2018.

“We engage in dialogue with a lot of brokers, and we look at tailoring business-to-business solutions that will actually help them and give them solutions that make us a very compelling partner of choice.”

The future is busy and bright for both Finsure and Kolenda.