AFG offers tips on how brokerages can grow

Leading brokers share tried and tested growth strategies

AFG offers tips on how brokerages can grow

This article was produced in partnership with AFG

Running your own business can be both a thrilling and daunting experience and millions of Australians are familiar with it – an estimated  98% of the nation’s businesses are defined as small, having less than 20 employees.

In mortgage broking, the industry is flourishing with more than 71% of all new home loans written by brokers.

So how do you grow your brokerage in a competitive marketplace?

Whether you’re a new-to-industry broker looking to kickstart your business or an established broker who wants to maximise growth, aggregator AFG has put together an informative and helpful guide, featuring tried and tested ways to grow your brokerage.

As part of the guide, award-winning brokers Christian Stevens (pictured above left), CEO of Flint, Karen Hall (pictured above centre), owner of Action Finance Mortgage Finance Solutions, and Andrew Paterson (pictured above right) of Aussiewide Financial Services, have shared their tips to help brokers supercharge their businesses.

The guide focuses on four key areas:

  1. brand and reputation
  2. referral network
  3. streamlining operations and
  4. client experience

Building your brand and reputation

Brokerages need to take full advantage of their local brand and also the power of social media.

Paterson, who is based in Geelong, said building your brokerage’s local brand was crucial.

“For us, the brand is a promise to our team, customers and our community,” Paterson said. “That drives everything that we do. 

“We want our team to be engaged and loving what they do – we want to be giving back to our community and our customers

“All of our marketing is very much targeted to Geelong and being a part of that community.

“We even had a local artist design some cards and settlement things that we do for customers, focusing on some key icons of Geelong and we’ve had some lovely feedback from that.”

Paterson said the brokerage had also said “no” to advertising nationally, because the focus was not on interstate customers.

“Obviously we won’t say no to a good customer, but it’s about focusing on Geelong.”

Social media is also an important tool for brokerages to grow their brand.

Stevens, who is based in Sydney, is highly active on social media and uses it to reach out to new customers and educate and enhance his relationships with existing clients.

“I generate millions of impressions every month organically, I have never paid for a single bit of advertising the entire time I have been a broker,” Stevens said.

“It’s literally been billions of dollars over the last six years of business that’s been generated organically and it’s been the sole reason for my success.”

Stevens said first home buyers were primarily on Facebook and were hungry for information, so he created a FB group called First Home Buyers Australia as a forum to educate this segment.

Linkedin was also crucial for the brokerage in generating business, especially in the B2B space.

Stevens also uses Instagram and he said this was all about consistency – posting on Instagram every single day.

Building a referral network

Strong referral partners are important for many brokerages but require effort and consistency and the ability to say no when necessary.

Hall, whose brokerage is located in Mackay, Central Queensland, said in regional areas “reputation is everything”.

“The pressure to protect your brand and your reputation is key because we’ve got a mining community, we’ve got young family demographic and they talk,” said Hall.

“They talk at barbecues, they talk in the crib room, and we do no advertising at all, everything is word of mouth.”

Hall said it was great to get this local support but the brokerage also had “to pull back and protect our customer delivery and proposition” because it had too many leads.

This meant being selective about who Action Finance worked with. Hall said sometimes it was hard to say, but this was necessary to protect service delivery.

“If you’re getting referrals from businesses that don’t align with your values or don’t respect your worth in the transaction, say goodbye,” she said.

Stevens said there were so many ways to secure business – any organisation with an “audience” offered a source of referrals – from mother’s groups and F45 fitness groups to B2B partners such as accountants, financial planners, real estate agents and buyer’s agents.

“The ones where you have a more authentic relationship, they can refer business and they’re a trusted referring partner, you tend to get a much better conversion,” he said.

Stevens said there was no better marketing that positive word of mouth reviews from happy clients. He encouraged brokers to seek 5-star Google reviews and encourage customers to refer family and friends.

For Paterson, building referrals was about consistency. “You can’t have one coffee and expect that you’re going to get business from that person straight away.”

Paterson said he encouraged his team to regularly catch up with referral partners and build “that relationship and trust”.

Streamlining your brokerage operations

Having great processes is vital for brokerages to run smoothly and also to ensure they can scale up when the time is right.

Paterson said at Aussewide they had “tried everything” but given that director Scott McDonald had worked at AFG for a number of years, meant the brokerage had figured out what worked and what didn’t.

Having a clearly defined process that every member of a brokerage team knew and could follow was how you created “happy staff, happy customers and great referral partners.”

“It just makes things flow – we’ve used the analogy of a bouncing ball – you want to have that ball bouncing from the first interaction of a lead to settlement and beyond,” Paterson said.

“At any point in the process, the team member looking after the ball, knows exactly where it is and what they need to do with it.”

This included different team members working on automation, workflows, checklists,  and ensuring “you had the right people with the right toles in  the right structure with the right tools”.

Retention and building the client experience

Keeping your clients happy is crucial  – brokerages must retain customers if they want to succeed.

Offering a greater range of lending solutions, such as commercial loans, can help grow your brokerage and provide more value for clients.

Stevens said the brokerage had added commercial lending to its offering, which had been a big gamechanger, as was cross-selling other finance products to existing clients.

He said Flint had looked at its entire client base and segmented them into $100,000 lots on their SMSFs and emailed them about SMSF lending opportunities.

It was important to take a proactive approach to existing clients rather than just the usual six or 12-month review.

“There’s so much extra business there,” Stevens said.

Hall said brokers could help nurture long-term client relationships  by educating their customers.

In Action Finance’s  local area,  it was “a competitive market with multiple offers”.

Hall said there was a high volume of first home buyers and there was a lot of value in helping these customers understand how to deal with real estate agents, make offers on properties, and how to handle pre-qualification.

“All that stuff is gold and I think it’s probably something a lot of brokers don’t do because you don’t get paid for that, but you earn trust and they feel safe with you which is key in our business,” Hall said.

Retaining a client is not just about post-settlement, it should start from the first interaction, building your brand and trust to ensure a client for life, said Paterson.

Aussiewide sought client feedback at approval and settlement stages to tackle any issues early on. The brokerage also asked for reviews at that time.

“We’re always reinforcing to the client the extra services that we offer, such as personal loans and car loans,” Paterson said.

Regular updates through nurture campaigns, and promoting what the brokerage was doing in the community, were also important.

To find out more about how you can grow your broker business, visit