What drives top Aussie brokers

by Victoria Ticha 03 Feb 2020

Australian Broker talks to some of mortgage broking’s biggest personalities, who feature among the top performers in the first annual Mortgage Global 100. They discuss their inspirations, plans for the turbulent year ahead, and much more

Australian Broker is proud to be part of a global portfolio of leading mortgage publications across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Together with its sister titles, including Mortgage Professional Australia (MPA), Australian Broker focuses on providing mortgage brokers, lenders, aggregators and other industry professionals with insights from some of the biggest names in this sector.

The magazine’s global reach via print publications, news websites and events means it is in a unique position to engage with the very top performers in the mortgage industry worldwide.

Indeed, as 2019 drew to a close, AB and MPA collaborated with their sister titles to put together the first-ever Mortgage Global 100. The list includes some of the industry's key personalities from Australia and beyond. These leaders are making a difference, whether through incredible advancements at their own companies; taking associations to new heights; providing education to industry members; or championing the key issues that will take it forward into a new era.

Read on to find out what inspires and challenges these individuals and sets them apart from the rest.

Drivers and inspirations

One of the top Aussie personalities in the Mortgage Global 100 is Daniel Di Conza, chief executive of Acceptance Finance. Seeing his clients and team do well is what drives Di Conza and helped spur much of his success over 2019. 

He says, “The uncertainty of the royal commission and the concern it caused drove us to support each other in a way like never before, and I believe this was a big win for our team culture.”

Looking ahead, Di Conza says there will be some challenges in relation to how the industry complies with the best interests duty, in particular how this impacts the sector commercially in light of the current clawback commission structure.

He explains, “One of the challenges we had in 2019 was how to provide brokers with high-quality back-office support at a commercially viable price. We reviewed and changed our processes to allow us to use international resources to complement our local admin team.

Glenn Gibson, head of third party distribution and direct mortgages, ING

“I believe brokers are well-positioned to meet and embrace any changes that the new year may bring” Brendan O'Donnell, Liberty Network Services

“To date, this has performed above our expectations and will remain a key focus for us in 2020.”

Glenn English, mortgage broker at Aussie Carnegie and fellow Mortgage Global 100 ranker, says he is driven mainly by setting the bar higher for himself and seeing his customers’ goals being achieved.

“That is what great service is built upon – making my customers feel valued and confident, knowing that their best interests are always first and foremost.

“As we know, change is the one constant in our industry, and with the support of Aussie, I’m confident I have access to the very best education, training and support network so I can stay focused on delivering exceptional customer experience in the year ahead.”

What drives Glenn Gibson, head of third party distribution and direct mortgages at ING, and another Aussie Mortgage Global 100 ranker, is a passion for the industry and collaborating to achieve great customer outcomes.

“I was very inspired by how we all worked together early in 2019, and I’m proud of the stance ING took in supporting our brokers throughout the year,” Gibson says.

“It’s very easy to get distracted and pre-empt things we ‘expect’ to happen, and then before you know it six months have disappeared.

“It’s just a fact that there’s a change in our industry every year, and every year we wonder how we’ll manage it. Yet every year we pull together as an industry and move forward.”

Nevertheless, he says one key challenge will again be ensuring they focus on the business and customers as they navigate their way through the changing legislative landscape.

But for Mortgage Global 100 ranker Tanya Sale, CEO at Outsource Financial, what drives and inspires her is all about educating consumers.

Mark Haron, executive director, Connective

Sale explains, “I implore all Outsource Financial members to educate their borrowers on not just the lending transaction but that thereafter. This understanding and knowledge empowers the Australian consumer and enables them to make informed decisions about their financial future. This should be a driving factor for all in the third party channel, as I believe our borrowers are a key element in ensuring our industry’s success and longevity.”

All brokers had to deal with a lot of change over the course of the year, and the way they dealt with it, focusing on the job at hand and their clients, was “exceptional”, says Mark Haron, executive director of Connective and yet another Mortgage Global 100 ranker.

“There’s a very good reason why the broker channel continues to grow its market share, and I’m driven, and feel privileged, to advocate for our industry and tell our story,” he says.

“Something that stood out for me in 2019 was the resilience of brokers from right across the industry.”

Mortgage Global 100 personality Brendan O'Donnell, managing director of Liberty Network Services, says he was most inspired by the dedication and drive of advisers who have worked tirelessly to build their businesses.

He says, “Having navigated some stormy seas in 2019, I believe that brokers are well positioned to meet and embrace any changes that the new year may bring. Moving forward, I expect we will encounter increased regulatory focus, with significant changes to how brokers must engage with customers to ensure good outcomes in an uncertain market."

As well as this, he expects the industry will start to see competition in the local markets intensify, making it more important for brokers to diversify their service offering and keep up with competitors.

“With our time becoming more precious, technology that supports brokers to streamline their processes will play a key role in the success of broker businesses," he says.

“Looking forward, I am driven to support advisers to continue reaching their goals and take their businesses to new heights.”

Daniel Di Conza, chief executive, Acceptance Finance

Biggest challenges

The devastation caused by bushfires and drought has meant a tough start to the new year for many Australians and small businesses, so it is important to remember that brokers play a key role in their local communities, especially in times of need.

According to Beau Bertoli, chief executive at Prospa and another top-ranking industry personality, brokers should familiarise themselves with the different funding options and relief packages available to their clients to help ease stress where they can. 

“Small business owners have been hit hard – especially those who rely on tourism over the holiday period – and community involvement and support will be more important than ever,” he says.

But brokers also faced a changing regulatory environment throughout 2019 that brought an ever-increasing focus on compliance, and the industry expects this will continue into 2020 and beyond.

Gibson says the challenge in any period of change and uncertainty is focusing on where you want to take your business, how to support your customers, and creating a detailed plan on how to achieve your goals.

He explains, “Key in 2019 was leaders and managers quickly getting their heads around the changes and supporting their teams and getting them on the journey to make it happen … This, combined with an ongoing focus on staff training and development will be vital in 2020.”

He points out that in the last 12 months the industry has witnessed the passing of the Consumer Data Right legislation, the establishment of a senate committee on financial and regulatory technology, and the first fintech minister appointment.

Beau Bertoli, chief executive, Prospa

Bertoli says, “Many Australians are realising they now have legitimate options, after years of inertia around switching lenders.”

For these reasons, he predicts that the rollout of open banking will not only be one of the biggest challenges for brokers and lenders but the biggest opportunity.

“It has the potential to revolutionise financial services in 2020. There will be more competition, more innovation, more transparency, and it will be easier than ever for customers to compare and then switch providers. 

The customer will have more power, and they will need brokers who are on top of the alternatives available and can present solutions beyond a bank.”

Indeed, it’s crucial that brokers understand the impact of open banking and the Consumer Data Right in terms of privacy and moving customer information securely.

Bertoli adds, “Brokers that educate themselves will be the ones that can best leverage the opportunities of shared data, benefiting their clients and their own businesses.” 

Brendan O’Donnell, managing director, Liberty Network Services

Advice to brokers

Brokers’ clients will continue expecting even more from their home loan application experiences as they become savvier than ever, especially with open banking just around the corner. But what does this mean for brokers?

Change seemed to be the only constant in 2019, says Haron.

“Although our industry will continue to face change in 2020, this change will ultimately deliver certainty for brokers – we are already seeing this play out with the release of ASIC’s updated guidance on responsible lending obligations.

“2019 saw our industry truly come together as one. By banding together as a united voice, we were able to stave off significant challenges and influence decisions that deliver better outcomes for consumers.

“In the year ahead, we need to continue to demonstrate the value of mortgage brokers and how important they are to borrowers, particularly in their ability to act in borrowers’ best interests.

“Brokers will need to focus more than ever on compliance in 2020 and will be looking to their aggregators to support them not only from an educational point of view but also in more practical ways through the provision of digital solutions that embed the compliance requirements into their day-to-day operations.”

English adds that trust and the customer experience will be more important than ever, and that “as a broker, we need to work hard to keep delivering those exceptional moments for our customers”.

“Repeat customers and referrals account for over 80% of my business, highlighting how important it is to build strong customer relationships,” he says.

Tanya Sale, CEO, Outsource Financial

English also encourages brokers to have a sense of urgency, following up with customers regularly and thoroughly understanding their goals, as well as staying on top of the discussions across the industry to determine the direct effects of pending regulation on their business and customers.

“Look at ways to make your business, the processes, data collection and follow-up into a seamless and effective structure,” he says.

Gibson suggests brokers should focus on purpose. “Brokers are generally very passionate about the service they provide their clients, and it’s vital brokers continue to focus on this,” he says.

Glenn English, mortgage broker, Aussie Carnegie

In Sale's view, brokers will need to ensure they have the right structures and processes in place to handle what is to come and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

She says, “It is going to be critical for brokers to look within their own businesses to assess if they are currently meeting, or able to meet the additional requirements, responsibility and behaviours that are being placed upon them.”