State Manager in the Spotlight: Ben Livera, Mortgage Choice

Helping brokers climb their 'Everest' a rewarding role

State Manager in the Spotlight: Ben Livera, Mortgage Choice

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.

In the latest article, MPA interviewed Ben Livera, South Australia and Northern Territory state manager for Mortgage Choice.

Livera has 27 years of experience in financial services and has been working at Mortgage Choice for more than six years, joining the broker network as a franchise development manager in October 2017.

In January 2023, Livera was appointed SA/NT state manager. Livera, who won the Business Development Manager Award – Aggregator at the 2021 MFAA National Excellence Awards,   says helping the Mortgage Choice network navigate a period of rising interest rates has been a challenge.

“But I’m proud of how the SA and NT franchise owners, brokers and my team have worked to continue to deliver great outcomes for clients,” says Livera.

Full name: Ben Livera
Job title: Mortgage Choice state manager SA/NT
Number of years in the industry: 27 years
Location: Adelaide, SA   

What did you do before entering the industry?

I worked at a servo in my teen years but in my professional life, financial services is all I've ever known! I started in a cadet role at Adelaide Bank 27 years ago and have worked across several financial services companies since.

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

In my role, I support Mortgage Choice franchises to achieve their business goals, whether they’re just starting out, they’re in a growth phase and looking to expand their business, or they’re thinking about succession planning.

Working with franchisees to help them craft their business strategy and come up with a tailored plan to achieve their goals is hugely rewarding when you start to see the results happen. I am supported by two franchise development managers in the SA/NT state office who also play key roles in partnering with our brokers to bring their business strategy to life.

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

Last year was my first year in the state manager role and our first full year as a new SA/NT state team. My goal this year is to work with my franchise development managers to ensure that all our franchises have the tools, training and support to build a business that helps them achieve their success, whatever that looks like for them.

I also want to facilitate more face-to-face time for the franchise owners in our network and create more opportunities for them to share their experiences, learn from each other and motivate their peers to continue to achieve personal growth.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

When I have my first meeting with a Mortgage Choice franchise owner to develop their business strategy, one of the first things we discuss is what success looks like to them and use Everest as an analogy for how to achieve it: to scale to the top and reach their success, we have to map out a plan to get from base camp to the summit.

What I've found is that when franchisees start climbing the steps towards their Everest, and beating the small goals they’ve set for themselves, suddenly the goal that felt like climbing to the peak of Everest feels increasingly achievable.

It is incredibly rewarding to work with a business owner, understand their potential and watch them blossom. 

What sets successful brokers apart?

I think two things set apart successful brokers. For me, it’s the ability to listen and to have an open mind. Running a business is hard and business owners will have their unique pain points, but if you have an open mind and are willing to work with the state teams who are there to support you, we can help you find a solution to get closer toward your goals.

The other thing that sets successful brokers apart is an ability to consistently work towards and implement their plan. It’s one thing to create a strategy, but if you want to be successful you must be disciplined enough to implement the plan and stay on track.

What should brokers expect from their state manager or BDM?

I think brokers should expect three things from their state manager – visibility, accountability and transparency.

I don’t want my franchisees going six months without seeing or hearing from me, which is why I send out monthly updates to all the brokers in SA and NT. These short video updates share news, interesting case studies and are a way for brokers and their staff to hear from me between face-to-face meetings.

It's important to be accountable. If I tell a franchisee I'm going to do something, I hold myself accountable to doing it.

And finally, transparency. As a state manager it’s important to remember that we’re supporting small business owners, and the reality is that running a small business can be hard, so I try to keep that front of mind when meeting with franchisees. Being transparent and validating their concerns allows us to have the good and the difficult conversations, which goes a long way to building rapport and trust.

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

Clawbacks have always been a frustrating topic for brokers. I know that we may not get to a stage where clawbacks are eliminated but I feel that there must be a better solution. The Mortgage Choice Freedom product for example has a fantastic clawback policy, which demonstrates that lenders can take a position that makes clawback policy more equitable.

I’d love to see open banking brought on faster. This would allow brokers to help their customers in a quicker and more seamless way, especially when refinancing. It’s crazy that most of the time when a broker is reviewing a client’s loan, the client’s current interest rate and pertinent information isn’t easily accessible to the broker.

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

I’d like to hope the brokers I work with feel I provide clarity and confidence.

Brokers are focused on writing loans and helping their customers, which is completely understandable but when they also own a business, that adds a whole additional layer of complexity. This is where my team and I step in, we’re there to help them understand where the gaps are in their business, and then provide them with clarity so that they can easily identify the steps required to make their business better.

Describe your ideal weekend

My wife Amanda and I live in the Adelaide Hills, which is such a beautiful part of the world and we love sharing it with people. On the weekends, we love hosting long lunches that start at midday and sometimes don’t end until quite some time later!

I also love cooking up a storm in my outdoor kitchen, usually while listening to music or with the AFL or cricket in the background. Last weekend I made a delicious Sri Lankan goat curry and slow cooked American style beef rib.

BDM in the Spotlight and State Manager in the Spotlight features a range of relationship managers and BDMs within the mortgage and finance industry. 

Among those recently featured include: SFG’s Amy Thorburn, Beyond Bank’s Tristian Cunningham,  AMP Bank’s David Askew, Moula’s Gillian Paton,  La Trobe Financial’s Waran Chandiran, Pepper Monday’s Harry Stewart, Dynamoney’s Victoria GravesAquamore’s Richard PlancaResimac’s Stefanie O’Connell, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Julie SalibaAFG’s Scott Chandler, Suncorp Bank’s Zach MetaxotosAMP Bank’s Laura Downer and Michael Riddiford, RedZed BDM Joel ReidAquamore’s Brett WinzerCommonwealth Bank’s Jessica Matthews and Suncorp Bank’s Ash Fernando.

Know a great BDM or state manager? Email [email protected]