The biggest movers and shakers in the broking industry came together from across Australia to celebrate the most prestigious annual event on the nation’s financial services calendar, The Adviser’s 2019 Australian Broking Awards, run in partnership with Commonwealth Bank.
Hosted by stand-up comedian, actor and musician Matt Okine, the ninth annual Australian Broking Awards honoured the nation’s most ambitious, inspirational and highest-performing brokers, brokerages, aggregation groups and support staff, who excelled in their roles despite the challenges that have confronted the industry over the last 18 months.
The winners of the 33 awards were announced as guests enjoyed their three-course meals and socialised with their peers at The Star in Sydney.
Graeme Holm of Infinity Group, who was crowned both Finance Broker of the Year and Rising Star, said he was “shocked” at the double win, saying that the calibre of finalists was very impressive.
The Bella Vista-based broker believes his team, or “financial family”, gives him the winning edge – a sentiment that was shared by many other winners.
Beau Dalton of Mortgage Choice (Arundel), who accepted the award for Office of the Year – Franchise, and Otto Dargan of Home Loan Experts (Rhodes), who accepted the award for Office of the Year – Non-Franchise (more than 5 brokers), also gave heartfelt shout-outs to their teams, commending their resilience in the face of uncertainty.
Momentum Media’s editor of mortgages, Annie Kane, congratulated this year’s winners, noting: “It’s been quite the year for the broking industry. At last year’s ABAs, we were in the middle of the royal commission and the broking industry was uncertain of its future. But just look at what has been achieved since – the industry has more certainty, more focus, and is more unified.
“A huge amount of that work was achieved by these winners and finalists – whether it be the work of the thought leaders that have been shaping the debate, challenging assumptions and reinforcing what brokers do or the nation’s leading brokers that are living embodiments of perseverance and dedication; whether it’s the loan administrators sifting through the ever-changing policies and regulatory updates, rate changes and paperwork or the tireless work of the industry associations, aggregators, lenders, brokerages.”
Ms Kane continued: “Here at The Adviser, we have been witness to what this industry has been doing and we have been privileged to stand alongside and inform, advocate and support brokers through the changes. “Many congratulations to all of the winners.”
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory
What do you think made you a winner at the ABAs?
Ben Kingsley: I think being client-focused and trying to innovate – basically, by taking out all the pain points in a process – with the end client in mind is how we’ve probably gotten the award.
Jamie Sinclair: A bit of entrepreneurial spirit goes a long way.
What advice do you have for brokers?
Ben Kingsley: I think if you work hard and are really clear about the types of clients that you want to look after, go after them and you’ll be successful.
Jamie Sinclair: Be ready to adapt. Look for new ways of doing things.
ASSET FINANCE BROKER OF THE YEAR
Brendan Scotter, Commercial Point Finance
How does it feel to be a winner at the ABAs?
Brendan Scotter: It’s flattering, especially given the competition in this field. It’s really amazing and unexpected.
How do you try to differentiate yourself?
Brendan Scotter: What I try to do with the business is essentially offer clients a full range of products – from asset finance, debtor funding, trade finance, home loans, commercial property, etc. It’s about being a one-stop shop.
What advice do you have for new and aspiring brokers?
Brendan Scotter: Believe in yourself, find a decent mentor, and work hard.
REGIONAL BROKER OF THE YEAR
Sarah Thomson, Loan Market (Geelong)
What makes a good broker in a regional area?
Sarah Thomson: I think it’s the ability to connect with your clients and the community and having a good culture so that staff want to work with you day in and day out.
How does it feel to be recognised as Regional Broker of the Year?<
Sarah Thomson: I’m incredibly surprised, actually. I had some very tough competition this year. So, I’m absolutely humbled.
Why is this award so important to you?
Sarah Thomson: It’s very important to me, but especially to my team. I couldn’t have done it without them.
INDUSTRY THOUGHT LEADER OF THE YEAR
Sam White, Loan Market
What does it mean to be recognised as industry thought leader of the year and why do you think you’ve won?
Sam White: I think it’s a great reflection of our team. What happened over the last 12 months was that assumptions were made [about how brokers operate]. Collectively, all of us wanted to stand up and say, “This is what the truth is”. Many brokers, aggregators and industry leaders stepped up in this process.
The only reason we won is because we’ve got a great team. Stacey Moseley and Lisa Phillips really helped amplify the message. What we were saying wasn’t unusual; it was what everyone knew. What landed better was how we communicated it; the team did a great job of that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given to brokers recently?
Sam White: The biggest thing is don’t be afraid of taking a risk. I remember when I first started advocating for [the industry] and sending out messages, I was very nervous about social. But Stacey and the team helped me get comfortable with that. So, when you’re worried about something, take a step, take a risk, and things generally work out if you have the right motives in mind.
MAJOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – NON-FRANCHISE
What gives your brokerage the winning edge?
James Angus: At finweb, we’ve always focused on three critical success factors of being a broker – looking after your clients, knowing your products, and building up your pipeline and referral base. At finweb, we support our brokers by giving them all the tools to be able to focus on [these], freeing them up from loan processing and all the other low-value activities that take away from what we should be doing as professionals.
How does it feel to be recognised at the ABAs?
James Angus: I really wasn’t expecting this award. I thought we might be in with a shot in a couple of years, but this is an incredible honour. It’s a reflection of the collective efforts of our group.
CUSTOMER SERVICE OF THE YEAR – OFFICE (5 OR LESS BROKERS)
Time Home Loans (East Brisbane)
What does this award mean to you?
Ruan Burger: I think it’s great recognition for staff. They are very much in this with me. They really do care for the client, not just for the transaction. They live to please the client.
Why do you think your customer service strategy has been working well?
Ruan Burger: I think there is commitment from everyone in our team. Everyone feels that they’ve got an obligation to make sure that the client finds our processes as good as they possibly can be so that we hopefully get raving fans.
CUSTOMER SERVICE OF THE YEAR – OFFICE (MORE THAN 5 BROKERS)
Resolve Finance (Docklands)
How does it feel to win this award?
Sandy Paravizzini: Fantastic. I’m proud on behalf of our team to be able to win this customer service award because everything we do is about our customers.
What customer service advice do you have for new brokers?
Sandy Paravizzini: In terms of strategy, I think any new broker should always remember that we have both internal and external customers. Our internal customers are our referral sources and our external customers are those who are striving for their dream of home ownership. Make sure you’re responsive, you build good rapport, and have that repeat conversation with them because they will always come back for your services.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Sandy Paravizzini: Our plan for the next 12 months is to grow our franchise channel and grow our national footprint. At the moment, we’re only in Western Australia and Victoria.
THE FULL LIST OF INDIVIDUAL WINNERS
Asset Finance Broker of the Year: Brendan Scotter, Commercial Point Finance
Commercial Broker of the Year: Grant Culshaw, Newcastle Commercial Finance
Customer Service of the Year (Individual) – Regional: Sam Arthurs, Loan Market (Warrnambool)
Customer Service of the Year (Individual) – Metropolitan: Louisa Sanghera, Zippy Financial Group (St Leonards)
Finance Broker of the Year: Graeme Holm, Infinity Group Finance
Home Loan Protection Broker of the Year: Nicholas Kakalis, Finance Unlimited
Industry Thought Leader of the Year: Sam White, Loan Market
Loan Administrator of the Year: Lauren Conde, Home Loan Connexion
Mentor of the Year: Tracie Palmer, Cornerstone Mentoring
Newcomer of the Year – Metropolitan: Jinkai (Ryan) Zhang, Option Finance Australia (Sydney)
Newcomer of the Year – Regional: Craig Mowbray, Be There Financial Services (Warilla)
Regional Broker of the Year: Sarah Thomson, Loan Market (Geelong)
Residential Broker of the Year: Josh Bartlett, Loan Market
Rising Star of the Year: Graeme Holm, Infinity Group Finance
Broker of the Year: Louisa Sanghera, Zippy Financial Group
THE FULL LIST OF GROUP WINNERS
Aggregator of the Year: Connective
Boutique Aggregator of the Year: Liberty Network Services
Broker Marketing Platform of the Year: Australian Finance Group
Customer Service of the Year – Office (5 or less brokers): Time Home Loans (East Brisbane)
Customer Service of the Year – Office (more than 5 brokers): Resolve Finance (Docklands)
Diversification Program of the Year: Astute
Innovator of the Year: Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory
Major Brokerage of the Year – Franchise: Mortgage Choice
Major Brokerage of the Year – Non-Franchise: finweb Group
Marketing Campaign of the Year: Mortgage Choice
New Office of the Year: Birdie Wealth (Miranda)
Office of the Year – Franchise: Mortgage Choice (Arundel)
Office of the Year – Non-Franchise (5 or less brokers): Atelier Wealth (Sydney)
Office of the Year – Non-Franchise (more than 5 brokers): Home Loan Experts (Rhodes)
Regional Office of the Year: South Coast Business & Financial Solutions (Ulladulla)
Social and Community Service Program of the Year: Pink Finance
Technology Platform of the Year: Loan Market
Training and Education Program of the Year: Connective
Tas Bindi is the features editor for The Adviser magazine. She writes about the mortgage industry, macroeconomics, fintech, financial regulation, and market trends.
Prior to joining Momentum Media, Tas wrote for business and technology titles such as ZDNet, TechRepublic, Startup Daily, and Dynamic Business.