Brokers on tour in Far North Queensland

by Miklos Bolza23 Aug 2017
A broker road trip organised by aggregator Australian Finance Group (AFG) in Far North Queensland is about to celebrate its tenth year of bringing lenders to this oft overlooked region.

Australian Broker talked to the founder of the event AFG BDM Garry Downes to see how the trip grew from being a bunch of lenders in a Tarago van into the regional gala it is today.

Downes joined AFG in 2003 and looks after brokers in regional Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“My passion is the regional areas,” he said. “Top of mind every year is how and in what way we can deliver or get lenders out of the metropolitan areas and into the regional areas.”

To accomplish this, Downes created the first end-of-year road trip in 2008 with himself and six lenders in a Tarago van driving up the coast, hosting end of year celebrations for AFG brokers on four consecutive days in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

“It was very well received. Between the four locations there were about 80 AFG brokers involved. It gathered momentum up to about 2013 when it morphed into something which was getting bigger.”

Conscious of providing value for money for the lenders involved, Downes decided to include a small two-hour professional development session in the afternoon before the evening’s celebrations. While this has been open to brokers from all aggregator groups, no other aggregators have shown interest in the event, he said.

Downes said the road trip in its current form has four key targets:
  • Supporting regional brokers
  • Providing professional development
  • Giving lenders value for money
  • Rewarding brokers for the year’s work
Last year’s event brought in 145 brokers across four locations with 10 lenders in attendance. Downes is currently organising this year’s road trip, saying that further details will be available at a later date.

“It started off with myself and six lenders in a Tarago van. One year we had a 14-seater bus but generally we go in three comfortable large cars nowadays.”

Lenders that attended last year include Suncorp, Pepper Money, ME, Westpac, Bank of Queensland, Macquarie, St George, ANZ, CBA and Auswide.

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