What should brokers look for in an aggregator?

Commission structure, mentoring and technology are just some of the factors to consider

What should brokers look for in an aggregator?

There are many factors to consider when choosing an aggregator. According to the results of the latest Brokers on Aggregators survey, accurate and on time commission payments are the most important thing brokers are looking for, followed closely by compliance support, quality of lending panel and IT support. But for a new to industry broker, there are a whole host of other factors to consider. MPA spoke with seasoned brokers, Rajan Khatak from Your Finance Adviser and Mhairi MacLeod from Astute Ability Group for their take on what new and experienced brokers should consider when choosing an aggregator.

Writing out a shopping list

Since there are so many things an aggregator can bring to the table, it is helpful to write out a list of priorities before shopping around, says Khatak. This is true for both new to industry brokers and seasoned brokers considering a change, however the types of things each group looks for could vary quite significantly.

This is particularly relevant when considering the type of commission model to go for.

“They should do their own maths.”

“If someone is new, they’ve got to be mindful it can take time to build up volumes.”

“What does the financial modelling look like for them today, in 12 months’ time, three years’ time and in five years’ time?”

While newer brokers writing $2-5m a year may opt for a split model, a more experienced broker doing big business could find a flat fee model more cost efficient.

The level of support offered

Another important distinction is the level of handholding and support on offer.

“A comprehensive, holistic, structured and proven mentoring program that delivers the results that really matters to a broker when they are new is very important,” says Khatak.

He aggregates with Outsource Financial; adding that the level of support and mentoring the business has received from them over the years has been amazing.

Since there is so much for a new broker to learn, not just in terms of technical knowledge, but also in terms of business strategy, having an aggregator that brings such support to the table is paramount. He says responsiveness is also key.

“Do they actively listen to your questions and answer them comprehensively?”

“Are they going to follow up within 24 to 48 hours?”

“How keen are they to bring you on board and make you part of the team?”

“That’s very important because it shows how they are going to look after you in the future as well.”

An extension of the business

As a seasoned asset finance broker, MacLeod says she values an aggregator that can act as an extension of her business.

“Having a leading brokerage in the finance space requires a leading aggregator who breaks the mould of simply offering a CRM, a panel of lenders and commissions paid.”

“Given the size and nature of my business, I look to always partner with the brightest minds that have a deep understanding and care for my business.”

She says she prioritizes having access to the business owner and leadership team in order to strategize with them for the future.

Finding an aggregator that ticks all the boxes

Recently, MacLeod switched aggregators to partner with Specialist Finance Group after thoroughly researching the market.

“I have known of Blake Buchanan through the industry over the years and decided to listen to what he had to say about Specialist Finance Group, of whom I didn’t know a great deal about.”

“It became quickly apparent that they just might have been one of the industry’s best kept secrets.”

“Their deep understanding of our industry, governance, connections, opportunities, processes and ability to understand a diversified business such as mine was pleasantly surprising.”

After meeting with owner and managing director William Lockett several times, she decided to seal the deal and is thrilled with the new partnership.

What new commercial brokers should look for

MacLeod says new to industry brokers in the commercial space can greatly benefit from partnering with an aggregator that offers a good commercial panel as well as an excellent CRM.

“Make sure you have a great relationship with your aggregator team as they will be vital when it comes to introducing you to new lenders – and in the event of needing an escalation, you need comfort in knowing that the aggregator will be there and able to assist with this process.”

She says when setting out to find a new aggregator she initially believed support was a greater priority than systems.

“It became clear to me though, that systems and support are symbiotic and co-exist to the benefit of each other.”

“The SFGconnect system is that good that my reliance on aggregator support has reduced.   Many benefits within its platform alone have saved me money and given me more time to do the things I love, which is helping more consumers.”

How much difference is there in the tech on offer?

When it comes to software, most aggregators offer similar functionalities, says Khatak.

“They all have different offerings but, at the same time, most of the things are available in all these platforms.”

“The point of difference is how seamlessly they integrate with one another.”

He says the level and responsiveness of IT support can really be a deal clincher when it comes to choosing an aggregator. Digital signatures and VOI are also becoming increasingly important, as is automatic credit scoring.

To change or not to change – that is the question

For experienced brokers considering a switch, Khatak says it is important to have clarity.

“They should ask themselves what it is about their current aggregator offering that has led them to the point of thinking about changing.”

“They’ve got to be honest – are those deficiencies they’re experiencing in the aggregator? Or are they internal deficiencies they need to work on.”

Brokers looking for greater support may find that a smaller aggregator with a higher staff to broker ratio could be a better fit, while those with ambitious plans to grow could benefit from choosing a flat fee model for scalability.

Those looking for support around marketing and lead conversion could be suited to a franchise model, he adds.

“All aggregations have their own place and I have huge respect for everyone because everyone brings something unique.”

“Switching is not that difficult”

According to MacLeod, who has switched aggregators twice in her 20 years in the industry, each change has come as a benefit.

“Brokers often won’t consider switching aggregators for better systems, support and overall value as it seems too hard or they have this mindset that they should but will get to it later.”

“I have to tell you that switching aggregators isn’t that difficult.”

“I am thrilled with my partnership with SFG as it suits my model, has incredible systems and the support I have been given is unmatched.”

“Every brokerage is different and so they should look for an aggregation partner that not only has excellent systems and support but one that will work with them on strategies and give great guidance.”