MPA: What changed in your business and your local market this year?
Dave Urquhart, principal: Our local market, Currambine in northern Perth, has been impacted by the slowdown in the Western Australian economy. This has included job losses and a decrease in residential valuations as house prices have fallen. These developments have had an effect on our clients and the brokerage.
Looking to broaden our services, we have had a continued focus on building a financial planning offering for clients, including a partnership with Gallery Financial Solutions, a local financial planning firm.
We’ve also been increasing our business and commercial lending as well as providing other solutions to our business clients. Brenton Bell is our commercial specialist, and he can help with commercial property purchases, business and trade finance, debtor finance, asset finance, consumer loans and more.
A continued focus on existing clients has ensured they are being looked after, with advice on the correct product and rate to meet their personal needs, and on reviewing loans and refinancing where necessary.
MPA: How do you benefit from being part of a franchise?
DU: Smartline support our marketing with their brand, which has been around since 1999, their website and call centre. The IT support helps also: Smartline provide us with a CRM and client care system.
MPA: Other than through client referrals, how do you generate leads on a limited budget?
DU: Social media really helps us generate new business. Smartline Currambine has a Facebook page which we regularly update, both with customer testimonials but also light-hearted things we’ve read and local news, such as new supermarkets opening. We’ve also got an advice video up there. Both Sandy and I are on LinkedIn, and the brokerage also has a Twitter account with plenty of retweeting and following local personalities.
We also have a number of local sponsorships that help keep us front of mind within the local community.
MPA: Have your clients been affected by recent rate hikes and policy changes, and what are you doing to respond?
DU: Falling valuations have had the biggest impact on clients and what they are aiming to do. With the rate hikes clients are concerned; however, through proactive communications and client reviews we have ensured they are educated on what is happening and how it impacts them. In some cases we have saved clients thousands in interest payments by getting them a better rate with their existing lender or moving them to another.