MPA: What changed in your business and your local market this year?
James Hasselle, director: We have revisited our entire end-to-end process and changed fundamental roles within the business; our focus has been to empower credit analysts to assess customer enquiries up front prior to them sitting down with our loan writers. This means upfront collection of income, expenses, valuations and also CRAA files.
Our clients receive a more efficient service from initial enquiry through to settlement and beyond. This has led to increased customer referrals and testimonials.
During our changes we have also added a defined advice process for credit advisers. This means we go into every detail of their future loan and account set-up, internet banking, offsets and account personalisation.
We also streamlined the document signing process to make sure the advice goes all the way through to settlement and beyond.
As part of the long-term management of the loan we have begun adopting new technology to reach out to our loan book at annual home loan review time. We have also used existing services that have long been available to other real estate industries to tag our loan book so we are alerted if a client sells their home or rents it out.
MPA: How do you benefit from being part of a franchise?
JH: As part of a franchise group I have found the level of support higher for both the ongoing compliance requirements but also at early stages of navigating rule changes from industry regulators.
HR requirements of a small business can also be a minefield, and I have found a franchise group has been able to offer me a larger level of both legal and documentation support.
Over the years we have had a much louder voice in the banking and finance industry because of the franchise group size. We also get access to the people that can make a difference in the banks and lenders.
During the GFC some smaller broking businesses lost accreditations with certain lenders; our franchise group and size meant we were somewhat protected from these risks.
MPA: Other than through client referrals, how do you generate leads on a limited budget?
JH: Continued marketing and services offered to our existing clients, using new technology and services as we discover and test them.
Reaching out on a regular basis to our existing client base is one of the lowest-cost and most reliable lead generation activities.
Networking groups have been a great low-budget option for lead generation, as have online marketing sources through our website, Facebook and Google.
MPA: Have your clients been affected by recent rate hikes and policy changes, and what are you doing to respond?
JH: Clients have been directly affected by all these changes.