Top 10 Independent Brokerages 2015 - 1 THE AUSTRALIAN LENDING & INVESTMENT CENTRE

Contact Information
Established in 2009
Based in Melbourne, VIC
Managing director: Jason Back

In an industry already envied by the rest of the Australian economy, The Australian Lending and  Investment Centre [ALIC] sit at the top of the pile.
In short, ALIC are definitely not like any other brokerage. Whilst brokers are now beginning to wake up to the benefits of a service-based – rather than transactional – relationship with clients, ALIC have been doing this since their inception six years ago. They look for a long-term relationship with a client, even asking clients to sign a document committing to this relationship, or be charged if they go elsewhere. Moreover, ALIC’s clients take responsibility for their side of the loan-writing process.

Managing director Jason Back told MPA how they made this possible. “We ask for that commitment, but we’re not chasing the entire market … we’re
very specific about the type of client we’re involved with.” These clients are 80–85% investors, not necessarily professionals but “middle managers, executives, mum-and-dad investors who are growing their portfolios.” ALIC, in partnership with a range of other professionals, draft a strategy for a client, and whilst clients can be charged if they break the agreement, this has only happened “two or three times” in ALIC’s history, according to Back.

If anything, ALIC are somewhat reluctant to promote themselves – with good reason, according to Back: “We’re very sensitive to the business’s ability to process volume; if we try and be all things to all people, that could denigrate the quality of the service to our clients. We’re starting to get known in the right circles for the right quality clients.”

They’ve needed to adapt to cope with demand, Back says. “Over the last 12 months, the thing that we’ve focused on is process efficiency … focusing on reducing waste and being able to process more volume.” This has been done by introducing a client relationship roadmap, “which outlines when certain things need to happen and who’s responsible for them and what actions are required at every single stage of the loan”.

The past year hasn’t all been good news; obviously, APRA’s actions to curb investor lending have been a bit of an issue for a brokerage so focused on investors. It has been challenge to keep up with the number of lender changes, Back admits, but ultimately, “we’re not overly concerned. Most of our clients are equity based-clients; they have large amounts of equity in their property and strong cash flow. We’re not relying on positive gearing to run a portfolio … they’re healthy clients.”

Within the office, ALIC pool their support staff but “we are starting to look at a one-to-many model, which means at any stage, any time, a staff member can grab a fine and process for that client, and we’re starting to look further afield at how hub-and-spoke models can support our business”. Hiring is an important part of ALIC’s future strategy, Back adds. “We’re proud of hiring locally, and we’re developing an educational academy here, taking them from relationship managers to brokers. We want a lot more females in our business, a lot more youth, to really build the next generation.”

From loan writing to hiring, ALIC’s success is built on a clear identity. As Back puts it: “We’re more than a transactor. The reality is that the transaction is the last piece of the puzzle; the education and the structure and the strategy is where the value is, and we feel we’ve got something very different to what the market offers.”