SFG hosts its first commercial lending conference

Convention explores market possibilities for brokers to diversify

SFG hosts its first commercial lending conference

Residential mortgage brokers face plenty of competition in crowded market and diminishing returns as fewer customers seek finance for home loans.

But unlike residential lending, which features a broker market share of almost 70%, there are far fewer brokers working in commercial finance, with only about 30% of commercial loans written by brokers.

Acknowledging the massive opportunities in commercial lending and to encourage broker diversification, broker aggregator Specialist Finance Group held its inaugural 2023 SFG Commercial Convention at Doltone House at Sydneys Darling Island on Wednesday, August 2.

The successful event attracted about 100 SFG members and lenders. Hosted by sports presenter and journalist Tim Gilbert, guest speakers included Rob Taylor, the commercial relationship manager at Bayside Residential and Commercial Mortgages, David Gill, the CEO of CAFBA, commercial valuer Frank Allen, and author and mindset coach Luke Mathers. SFG managing director William Lockett and general manager Blake Buchanan also spoke.

Participants at the one-day convention got to take part in three panel discussions and hear from a range of commercial and asset and equipment lending experts, including brokers and lenders, and ask questions.

The panels included asset and vehicle finance, led by SFG member and asset finance specialist Mhairi McLeod, principal at Astute Ability Finance Group, featuring Amfin founder and CEO George Dib (Amfin); Peter Beaumont, head of broker at Wisr, and Liberty BDM Tristan Emanuel.

The bricks and mortar security panel was led by commercial broker Stuart Wilson, the director of Commercial Finance Partners. It included Westpac national strategic partnerships executive - commercial broker Angelina Bernal, Prime Capital chief commercial officer Malcolm Withers and Suncorp Bank commercial BDM Ash Fernando.

The third panel focused on specialised lending and SMSF lending. Melissa Ashcroft, the general manager of the AAA Financial Group, led the panel and was joined in the discussion by Paramount managing director Sean White, Pepper Money relationship manager Jessica Ricketts and Judo Bank director Luke Hannigan (all pictured above).

Among the topics discussed were commercial finance trends, various lending scenarios and the value to be gained from diversification, especially residential brokers tapping into their current customer bases to offer commercial lending options and create “stickier” relationships.

MPA spoke to SFG member and Sydney broker Jeremy Harper, who runs brokerage hfinance, and attended the convention.

Harper said he had been a residential broker for about eight years and only began offering commercial lending about six months ago.

Before he got into broking Harper was a chartered accountant working with businesses and had a number of family members that operated their own businesses.

“I’ve always had a good background in understanding how business works,” Harper said. “That to me is extremely interesting – helping people build finance and grow their own businesses. That’s why I want to get more involved in the commercial sector.”

Harper said he was attending the SFG Commercial Convention to gain more knowledge about commercial loans.

“Learning from your peers – I think that’s really important. As a broker it’s quite easy to get stuck in your own little silo. Listening to BDMs and getting an update on different products and policies and where your clients might fight.”

Harper said the convention had been really good and he particularly found Taylor’s insights useful regarding how to present a commercial loan deal and what questions to ask clients.

Harper said the “biggest takeaway” from the conference was to use resources within SFG, including speaking to BDMs and peers for guidance on loan deals.

Buchanan (pictured below right) said as residential brokers approached market share saturation, there were wonderful market share opportunities available in commercial, asset and equipment finance.

SFG Commercial Convention attendees with SFG general manager Blake Buchanan

“We have seen significant uplifts in brokerages diversifying into this space and whilst residential brokers diversify more, it also presents the great opportunity for commercial brokers to also diversify into residential,” Buchanan said.

“As brokers look to continually improve their models, SFG is no different and we are very proud to have worked on our commercial partnerships and offering as we scale our business.”

Buchanan said SFG had attracted some of Australia’s best commercial brokers in recent times.

“We are proud to have hosted and launched our inaugural commercial convention this week as we charge forward with our growth,” he said.