State Manager in the Spotlight: Amy Thorburn, SFG

Think outside the box, says former business owner

State Manager in the Spotlight: Amy Thorburn, SFG

BDM in the Spotlight and State Manager in the Spotlight is a regular series, giving brokers insight into the lives of some of the country’s leading relationship managers.

This week MPA caught up with Amy Thorburn, Queensland state manager for Specialist Finance Group (SFG) who has been with the leading aggregator for almost three years. We asked her about how she supports brokers, what sets successful brokers apart and what brokers should expect from state managers.

Thorburn has extensive experience in the financial services industry, including working in credit analyst and broker relationship roles. She says she loves meeting people and building relationships with SFG members and is excited about the positive changes that open banking will bring for brokers.

Full name:   Amy Thorburn
Job title:  State manager
Number of years in the industry: 15
Location: Queensland

What did you do before entering the industry?

Retail when I was younger

Please give a brief description of your role and how you support brokers?

My role is multifaceted. First and foremost, it is a role of service, fostering and supporting the business growth of our SFG Members. I also engage regularly with our lender partners to ensure we have strong relationships, and conjointly plan and implement the education program for our members.

Furthermore, it is my responsibility to grow the SFG Queensland member base. The way in which I support our members varies from person to person, each individual and business requires a unique approach to development. To name a few, it may be supporting them with business planning, assisting them to source additional staff, or providing them with the education they require to remain abreast of industry changes and to remain compliant.

A goal that you aim to achieve in your role this year?

2023 saw the strongest growth in Queensland we have ever experienced. We are attracting very high-quality groups of members, and the culture within the group is fantastic.

What I really want to focus on this year is conveying more information about SFG and how we operate with brokers to attract more of the same. A broking business’s biggest anchor to their aggregator is their data, the misconception that they will have too much down time, and the impact this will have on their business if they move.

I cannot speak for others, however, at SFG we have streamlined our onboarding process down to a fine art where any disruption or down time is minimal, and our data migration team are experts in their field. If I can bust these myths and attract even more outstanding members – I’ll be very pleased.

 What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love meeting people, and I love the relationships I have with our existing members. For me, this role is all about people and relationships which suits my personality very well. I also love how all our members are happy to share with other members what they do in their business, they really are such a great group of people.

 What sets successful brokers apart?

Successful brokers have a business plan which outline goals, implement strategies to achieve these goals, and understand the optimal business structure they will need to employ to achieve these goals. They engage with other successful brokers which means being involved in our educational program and other industry events.

They are open to advice and ask for help. They understand that they cannot do it alone, and the importance of scaling their business – partnering with the best aggregator, having the optimal software and effective processes – these are fundamental for growth and successful brokers know this.

What should brokers expect from their BDM or state manager?

In my opinion, brokers should expect a level of support. Support can mean many things. However, it starts with answering your phone, replying to emails in a timely manner and being helpful wherever possible. If the BDM or state manager cannot assist, then assist with pointing the member in the right direction.

This is the very least they should expect. At SFG, we go beyond a base level of support as we have a ‘service first’ business model from which we operate. I like to ensure I can assist with the majority of what our members require. The remaining is absorbed by our highly skilled and talented team who are very available to our members, as we are a team and no one person can do it all.

Are there any industry-wide changes that you think would benefit brokers? 

I think open banking/CDR will be a significant and positive change for brokers when it is ready. This will be an enormous time saver, however, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area and we do not want to deliver something to our members which will increase their workload. We are looking forward to adopting this technology – only when it is going to be a benefit and not a burden.

What do you provide to brokers that makes you valuable to them?

I believe my years in the industry and my experience is valuable to them. I have always been in third-party.  I have owned and operated businesses, so I understand the day-to-day and the challenges that come with being a business owner. I feel they appreciate me playing devil’s advocate by challenging their thought process and offering alternative ideas.

Personally, I believe there is more than one way to do almost everything, so challenge the status quo – think outside the box. I have been told my positivity and laugh are infectious, so I think that must be a good thing too.

Describe your ideal weekend

I love being outdoors and getting fresh air and exercise. I’m also a bit of a foodie. So, up early on Saturday to go on a long bike ride or bush walk, followed by a long lunch with great food and wine. And then an afternoon nap on the couch with my partner and fur babies. This is even better if we’re away for a weekend – I do love weekend getaways!