Broker innovations key to bright finsure future

by Antony Field10 May 2021

Finsure is not resting on its laurels despite breaking loan settlement records and rapidly expanding its broker network in 2020. The award-winning aggregator wants to maximise new technology to achieve further growth.

Major broker aggregator Finsure has plenty to celebrate in 2021, its 10th anniversary year.

The company, which launched in Sydney in 2011, reached monthly loan settlements of $2bn in December for the first time, while its loan book passed the $50bn milestone.

Finsure has a growing network of 1,910 brokers, reflecting a 15% increase year-on-year; recently launched its new branding and logo; and is constantly improving its CRM platform, Infynity, with new tech partnerships.

Finsure managing director John Kolenda spoke to Australian Broker about the aggregator’s recent successes and its exciting plans for the future.

“I am very proud of all we have achieved over the past decade, particularly in 2020 and this year as we took the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the horns,” Kolenda says.

“Since we started trading in 2011, Finsure has become one of the fastest-growing aggregation businesses by offering a diverse lending panel, flexible commission models, our Broker Academy, innovative marketing solutions and lead generation, plus comprehensive mortgage broker support services.”

Kolenda says Finsure is fortunate to have been recognised with industry awards over the past decade and was recently crowned Best Mortgage Aggregator at the Australian Lending Awards for the second year in a row.

“To be acknowledged with this top industry award is a great testimony to the contributions of all our staff, their tireless efforts and achieving consistently great results year-on-year, including consistently reaching $2bn in monthly settlements, while our loan book surpassed the $50bn milestone.”

Broker recruitment has also been a strong point for Finsure, with its network now approaching 2,000 brokers. Its leadership structure and sales team was also bolstered by the appointment of new state managers and business development managers to support its expanding broker network.

“We started 2021 with dynamic and contemporary new branding and logo to more accurately reflect Finsure’s position in the market as a leader in providing cutting-edge broker support.”

Property market boom

Kolenda says despite the global pandemic devastating many businesses and causing a jump in unemployment, housing markets in Australia have proven resilient.

“In some parts of the nation property prices have even skyrocketed. The outlook for residential property for most of the country is encouraging given the positive indicators from consumer confidence, auction clearance rates, falling loan deferrals, and lenders keen to write new business as record low interest rates continue.

“Another interesting aspect that has occurred during the disruptions brought on by COVID-19 is that households appear to have changed their spending habits,” says Kolenda.

“Many people have diverted funds that would have typically been spent on travel, particularly overseas travel, and entertainment into improving their homes or even upgrading their homes.”

Lending for renovations has increased, and parts of the domestic economy are rebounding better than expected, while other sectors remain subdued due to COVID’s impacts.

“This pandemic event is unlike any other in history, and this is evidenced by the disparity in economic results across various industries. Much depends on the impact of the vaccine rollout and the return of pre-COVID travel both in Australia and overseas, but for the residential real estate market the outlook remains positive.”

Tech enhancements

During the coming months, Finsure will be rolling out a brand-new Client Centre for its broker network. Kolenda says this will feature a number of new improvements.

It will provide brokers’ customers with their own accounts to complete an online customer information form; allow customers to upload documents directly into the system; show the loan details and application status; off er a chat service to keep in direct contact with the broker; and give brokers the opportunity to cross-sell other services to their clients and increase their revenue base. “

The Client Centre links all the customer data directly to the broker’s account in our market-leading customer relationship management platform Infynity CRM, ultimately speeding up the application process and allowing brokers to focus more on loan selection instead of chasing customers for information.”

Infynity has been a significant boost to Finsure’s service proposition for brokers, says Kolenda.

“It is the most up to date CRM in the market, with groundbreaking technology that streamlines workflow, has supported brokers since the introduction this year of BID, and automates time-consuming tasks.

“Infynity has been integrated with various platforms such as NextGen.Net’s ApplyOnline, which aims to reduce the duplication of documentation uploads in a bid to reduce application times. Finsure has also formed a partnership with software provider Drive IQ to boost the digital asset finance offering to our broker network.”

Broker market share

Kolenda says he expects the broker market share, currently at 60.1%, will keep growing, and certainly 70% is achievable.

“The COVID period has been challenging for all industries, and the broking sector is no exception. From a Finsure perspective, the adjustments we had to make during lockdown periods when we had to temporarily close the Finsure head office and management and staff worked from home have been inspiring.“

We were always able to maintain communications with our broker network. With interstate travel restricted, training and personal development days were conducted online via webinars. We had regular online meetings and even socialised on Friday afternoons via video conferencing platforms. I think it enhanced our culture.”

Personal contact with Finsure brokers was also maintained during these challenging times, something Kolenda described as being of paramount importance and “a big part of our culture”.

“We have gradually returned to normal with personal development face-to-face again, but a lot was learnt from those adjustments we had to make. Brokers through COVID have demonstrated their adaptability to challenging situations, which will hold them in good stead as they continue taking a larger share of the mortgage market.

“Brokers have also quickly adapted to the introduction of BID, which helps them differentiate themselves more from direct channels and further increase their market share, which is at an all-time high and will continue to grow further and follow other international markets, which are over 80%.”

Finsure’s broker services

So, what does Finsure do differently from other aggregators?

Kolenda says Finsure brokers can get all their business needs addressed under the one roof.

“For example, Finsure’s Broker Support Service takes away time-consuming data entry tasks when processing applications on behalf brokers after the provision of basic information.

“Finsure’s Credit Concierge service also benefits brokers by performing the ‘heavy lifting’ of research relating to where to lodge hard-to-place or unusual deals. Also, together with BDMs and credit coaches, Finsure’s business coaches provide vital broker support by assisting with marketing strategies, business planning, goal setting and mentoring.”

Compliance continues to be a major focus for the broking industry and Kolenda says Finsure is leading the way by using compliance as an enabler rather than as an inhibitor.

“Our compliance team can take immediate action when they identify that a broker is not following the framework in instances such as failing to upload minimum required documents or underquoting living expenses,” he says.

“Importantly, our early intervention strategy allows the broker the chance to change their behaviour and ensure their mistake is not repeated before it’s too late. No other Australian aggregator is taking this approach. Finsure is leading the way in turning attitudes to compliance away from after-the-fact detection and firmly towards prevention.”

Broker development

Education and professional development of brokers, as well as support with diversifying into commercial and asset finance, are crucial aspects of an aggregator's role.

“Finsure has been working on leveraging the growth in our business to further improve our service proposition to brokers, particularly through education and personal development,” says Kolenda.

The aggregator prepared for BID by developing a market-leading solution to ensure brokers comply with the changes and provide their customers with a professional and innovative solution, ultimately making their job easier.

This process was assisted by unlocking more features in Infynity, such as by developing the Infynity app store that offers a whole range of integrated services to brokers.

“This initiative truly adds value for our brokers, because rather than including a range of pre-selected integrations as part of their service fee, brokers are free to choose which applications or services best suit their business,” Kolenda says.

The integrated services include CoreLogic property reports; ActivePipe – a third party provider of automated email services; Client Centre integration providing for online documents/fact-find for customers and enabling them to send applications to their broker electronically; Allianz general insurance, allowing brokers to off er car and home insurance at the click of a button; custom website packages; personalised public relations services for brokers, and SMS broadcasting.

“Our brokers are further assisted by Finsure through the digitisation of key compliance documents,” Kolenda says. “Finsure’s digital credit guide displays the top five lenders used by a broker and provides an updated list of all accredited lenders, helping to meet an important obligation.”

Dedicated Credit Coaches at Finsure provide additional support for brokers, helping them to workshop, structure and place deals.

Kolenda says for brokers looking to diversify their services and increase their revenue base, Finsure will be hosting its Commercial & Diversified Finance Summit in Brisbane this year, delivering content from Australia’s leading experts.

Held in person across two days, the flagship event complements the regular masterclasses held throughout the year (both digitally and in person).

Supporting female brokers

“We held our inaugural Women in Finsure event in Sydney in 2018 to coincide with the worldwide celebration of the political, social and economic achievements of women on International Women’s Day,” Kolenda says.

“NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian spoke at the event and we have regularly staged Women in Finsure events around the country in recent years.”

The push for gender equality and promoting women’s rights has benefited the whole community, says Kolenda, particularly industries such as financial services.

“Finsure has always proudly pushed the boundaries since it was established in 2011, initially by disrupting the traditional mortgage broker industry and now by proactively promoting equality, opportunity, diversity and inclusion of women within our great industry.

“We are proud to note that since 2017 the number of female brokers in our network has almost doubled from 17% to 31%, while in Queensland the female representation is even higher, at 35%.”

Lender turnaround times

Slow loan application turnaround times have been a sore point for brokers, with the problem getting worse during COVID-19.

“When our brokers’ customers face urgent time frames, Finsure’s intuitive CRM system ensures the lender selection is matched appropriately, based on current turnaround times,” says Kolenda.

“We are always there to help our brokers during challenging times and ultimately to support them whenever we can. We work hard to keep our brokers informed about what lenders are doing, while maintaining strong customer relationship management systems and service level agreements.

“Preparing for the introduction of BID at the start of this year and changes to responsible lending has also sharpened up Finsure’s systems, as has adjusting to the structural shift in consumer behaviour brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

There is no doubt the future looks bright for Finsure.

“We look forward to pushing ourselves to greater heights and continuing to challenge the norm, while remaining focused on making a positive difference to the lives of our brokers, innovating, challenging and breaking records.”