Executive manager says COVID-19 has accelerated consumers’ desire for expert advice and guidance
With record volumes of home lending due to low interest rates, government stimulus and property market growth, mortgage brokers have never been busier. But while some may claim they are too busy to focus on commercial finance opportunities, now is the time to build stronger relationships with new and existing customers and embrace diversification – the words of Suncorp executive manager, broker partnerships, business banking, Robynne Frost.
She told MPA that COVID-19 had “accelerated the desire for expert advice and guidance.”
“This is not a time for brokers to be stumbling through solutions, we should all be well-informed and educated,” she said.
This is not only true in the case of brokers helping their clients with finance – it also applies in their approach to their own business and its sustainability into the future.
“Offering a holistic approach to your customers’ business lending needs, checking in on all your customers and future-proofing your business will set your business up for sustainable growth in the years to come,” she said.
Diversification is particularly important right now because of the increasingly competitive nature of the market, she explained. Hand in hand with this, SMEs have become an area of increased focus and growth for many banks, both major and second tier.
“Banks will continue to offer strong, competitive offers in the SME lending space which will open more opportunities for brokers who can offer the whole package,” she said.
It’s also important for brokers to consider the needs of their entire client base in a holistic fashion “because most likely their needs vary, and they are no longer just engaging brokers for their home lending.”
“Understanding the SME market as well as your customer is key in diversifying your business,” she said. “By understanding your customer’s situation or circumstance, you gain an insight into their needs.
“SME’s typically have more sophisticated needs around products and services, ranging from transactions, lending, cash flow management, equipment purchases, insurances and superannuation, to name a few.
“Whether it be a new home loan, or an asset finance need for their business, by deeply understanding how their business operates you can identify solutions that will suit their growth ambitions.”
Suncorp’s Small Business SunEducation Program has been a key measure of support for brokers wanting to diversify into commercial finance. The program debunks SME jargon such as financial statements and ratios and provides examples of the right questions to ask SME clients. It also highlights the potential challenges SMEs could face and takes brokers through various scenarios in order to help them easily ascertain the right product solution for their clients.
“We’ve designed a variety of courses to support our broker partners wherever they are in their diversification journey,” said Frost. “We’re excited to launch our new course, ‘Navigating Credit Memorandums’ next month. This course explores how brokers can write a successful credit memorandum and understand the needs of customers to get the right outcome from a lender.”
She said brokers could find out more through Suncorp’s Business Partners Online or by connecting with one of Suncorp’s SME and Commercial BDM managers.
Suncorp has also been supporting brokers through the alignment of its broker and direct processes to ensure “customer outcomes are equal and there’s no differing timeframes,” said Frost.
“Our customer onboarding process through our dedicated small business call centre is second to none. Our recent amendment in expense verification process, requiring customers to provide less documentation in loan applications, means a faster time to yes for our brokers for their customers.
“We are also investing in our decision timeframe, documentation and settlement processes to deliver a better experience. We know we have more work to do, but it’s a true reflection of how Suncorp values our broker relationships and SME customers.”