This year’s number one brokerage has “bucked the trend” and written more loans in the last year than before. Acceptance Finance CEO Daniel Di Conza says they have faced the same industry challenges as everyone else, but the group’s great teamwork and positive attitude has kept the business growing.
For him, one of the hardest parts of the last year was keeping a team of concerned brokers focused and enthusiastic in spite of the royal commission recommendations. But in these moments of uncertainty, they pulled together.
“It’s really easy to react negatively when you’re faced with these headwinds, but the most positive thing was seeing the team come together and support each other,” he says.
“When they thought the industry they work in was going to evaporate they worked harder together, supported each other with transactions, problem solved and gave each other moral support.”
Di Conza says this attitude reflected in the service to clients. Operating since 2002, Acceptance Finance has built a strong customer base.
After the royal commission final report, the brokerage sent out a brief video message to let their clients know the potential impact.
“That sparked a fair bit of conversation and clients were genuinely concerned,” Di Conza says. “They trust their brokers and for them the relationship they have had with their broker has helped navigate them through difficult times.”
With the royal commission enhancing customer support and forging strong bonds between brokers, Di Conza looks at the experience with a glass half full attitude.
“Sometimes these challenges we get can actually be really positive when you get through them,” he says. “The royal commission and focus on brokers is going to provide some positives for the industry - as painful as it was at the time.”
The team at Acceptance Finance is made up of subject matter experts, Di Conza says, focusing on areas like SMSF lending, investment property, or commercial lending. When one team member doesn’t understand an area quite so well, they workshop together.
One of the biggest concerns for Di Conza moving forward is clawback for a facility that has not been used within a certain period. Working with a lot of property investors, his brokers are often asked for a refinance and to set up an investment facility for a future transaction.
He says the clawback policy gives too much of an opportunity to change behaviours, where the broker might decide to do the refinance first and the investment facility as a separate transaction down the line when the borrower is ready for it, creating twice the paper work for all involved whilst not creating any benefit for the client.
“Brokers are getting mixed messages,” he says. “Are we looking after clients for a long period of time or are we looking after them for a transaction? Current clawback policies will conflict with best interest duty, a bit of work will need to be done for our industry to have them both at the same time.”
The other thing to focus on going forward is the growing costs of doing business. Di Conza is looking at where to place resources and boosting the relationships with referral partners.
Most importantly, he will stick to his simple but effective strategy: “Advise the client as if you’re advising yourself. If you always look after the client everything else will look after itself.”
Total loan book: $1,300,000,000
Total settlements 1 March 2018 – 28 February 2019: $313,000,000
Number of loan writers: 16
Avg. annual volume per broker: $19,562,500
Conversion rate: 92%