Brendan O'Donell: The Strength of Brand

by Adam Smith02 Jul 2014

“We’re looking for tech savvy brokers, but that being said we have a good mix of brokers,” he said.

O’Donnell said another key component of the company’s proposition to brokers was the opportunities it offered for diversification. He said diversification of revenue was an area most brokers seemed to deem a necessity, but that few had managed to implement.

“There really isn’t much by way of success in the industry when it comes to diversification. There have been movements by some to introduce financial planning as an extension of their business. I’m personally not a believer in one person being able to manage both mortgage broking and financial planning,” he said.

But O’Donnell said the company had “some real success stories” in the area of diversification.

“When it comes to diversification, we’ve really seen it get some traction. There’s a real critical mass emerging when it comes to doing more than traditional mortgage broking,” he said.

“All our advisers since having joined Liberty Network Services have written at least one motor loan. These were traditionally residential mortgage brokers, and we now have very successful cross-sell of people doing both,” O’Donnell added.

O’Donnell said Liberty as a company had a diverse offering beyond specialist lending, including prime lending, commercial and motor lending and a future move into the insurance market. He said Liberty Network Services gave its brokers access to its specialists in these spaces to generate diverse revenue streams.

“Equally with our commercial and SMSF offering, we’ve been able to give our advisers more hands-on access to disproportionate amount of our advisers who were typically residential brokers doing those more complex deals. We have an investment platform where advisers can identify potential clients and spot refer them to the investment team at Liberty.”


Marketing is another area where brokers can benefit from scale, O’Donnell said.

“You still get the sense that a large proportion of brokers aren’t really getting into effective marketing. Yes, many buy into the stock standards of sending a birthday email or the quarterly newsletter, but it’s not targeted,” he said.

He argued that the size of Liberty Network Services meant it had to back up its claims when it came to marketing support.

“As we bring new people into the business, because we’re small we can’t afford for any advisers to believe we’re not doing what we said we were going to do in terms of marketing support,” O’Donnell said.

The fifth component of the company’s proposition, O’Donnell said, is business planning. Business planning is an area where brokers have good intentions, he said, but often face difficulties in implementation.

“Our BDMs help develop a real plan, and we reflect on that plan every quarter and hold everyone to account, including ourselves,” he said.

Overall, O’Donnell remains committed to the idea of branding. He argued that the scale it provides brokers will help them stay ahead in a competitive market.

“There’s a lot of debate about branded models. I’m a big proponent of the model, so I believe we’re going to see more and more offerings evolve into branded models,” he said.

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