We are so excited to see our very own CEO Jaci Smith gracing the cover of
Australian Broker's October edition!
The lovely people down at Australian Broker asked Jaci about what it takes to disrupt the aggregation industry, and her plans to expand both My Local Broker and Chief across other facets of the financial industry. Read the full article below!
WHEN RESPONSIBLE lending disclosure obligations were introduced as a result of the National Consumer Credit and Protection Act (NCCP), My Local Broker chief executive Jaci Smith experienced rst-hand the added arduousness that came with providing a client with an assessment. Suddenly, mortgage and nance brokers were obligated to provide more documentation to their clients than ever before, slowing down the already-convoluted process of securing a loan for a borrower.
Smith wanted to remedy this ine ciency, and the rst incarnation of My Local Broker was introduced in 2012 as a broker directory site. But Smith suspected it still wasn’t good enough – it wasn’t “future-proof ”, she said.
Four years later and that initial broker offering has pivoted into a fully- edged retail and aggregation business, with a technology push that is unrivalled in the aggregator market.
“When I launched the rst version we were collecting some information but ... it didn’t enable [brokers] to collect a full fact- nd, which is obviously what they want – to be able to provide quicker information back to clients in terms of suitable loan products,” Smith tells Australian Broker.
Smith went on to trial a number of existing CRM software platforms, but she couldn’t nd one that ticked all the boxes. “... So that’s why I went out and raised some money to do it myself,” she says. And the rest is history. Introducing Chief, Smith’s brainchild and the unique CRM software purpose-built for My Local Broker.
So what is so special about Chief? According to Smith, a lot. Currently, brokers have to endure a lot of back and forth with the customer over documents and signatures.
“The need to collect a whole lot of information to be able to provide a client with an assessment – that’s been a pretty big bugbear,” says Smith.
By contrast, Chief bypasses a lot of the platform restrictions of current CRMs in the aggregation space, and allows brokers to have full technological integration of data, preventing the dreaded cycle of document exchanging. Brokers and customers can collaborate and complete a le online through NextGen.Net’s ApplyOnline system, with all correspondence and documentation stored in one place.
“At the moment, the way that they collaborate on a file is: I’ll send you an email with my payslip and tomorrow I’ll send you one with my mortgage statements; and the broker, for NCCP, has to keep a record of all these interactions they have with clients that are held in a mirage of different places. Whereas with the way they interact with Chief and My Local Broker, it’s all kept in one place and it’s a full history of every form of interaction that they have with the customer,” Smith says.
Smith and the My Local Broker team have just finished a nationwide roadshow to show off the new CRM, and the response, says Smith, has been “humbling”. “... [I]t was all about showing the software off, and also talking about the offering
in full, so that we could create some confidence about what we’re doing to effectively onboard these guys.”
Compliance is crucial
Smith’s confidence in Chief is palpable, and she has no reservations about making statements such as “Chief is by far the most compliant broker CRM in the market”. She challenges her competitors to “come and have a look at it”, and explains that the system has been built around compliance.
But is Chief enough to lure comfortable – or perhaps complacent – brokers away from the hold of their current aggregators? After all, the comfort of what people know tends to have a stronger pull than the curiosity of something new.
Smith responds by telling Australian Broker that since the roadshow My Local Broker has conducted a series of one-on-ones with brokers, and currently they are talking to approximately 60 brokers keen to onboard with the aggregator, including brokers who will be leaving their current aggregators to experience the My Local Broker offering.
“Brokers that are currently enjoying a flat-fee model – they’re actually coming to us. It’s going to cost them more money to be here, but they appreciate the fact that they get service here, and they get a lot of technological integration that they don’t get at their current aggregator due to their platform restricts,” Smith says. “Things like VEDA seeker files, integration of RP Pro; there’s a number of integrations – e-signatures – that we’ve integrated that are obviously all pluses, but they’re more than happy to pay for that.”
“The question I’ve asked is, is your aggregator going to be able to adequately support you in the future? And technology is definitely at the forefront of that ... our lead generation through My Local Broker is going in leaps and bounds, and we’ve generated almost 900 leads in the last six weeks that we’re appointment-setting for brokers that are coming on board at the moment,” Smith says.
Time is money
Given the focus on efficiency and time-saving that Chief proposes to have, Australian Broker pressed Smith for details on exactly how much time brokers will save if they become a My Local Broker broker using the Chief CRM.
“Internally we’ve tested it and had other brokers from other aggregator CRM platforms also provide tests with their existing platform plus Chief. So the average application is taking, on average, up to 10 hours from the time that the broker interviews, data inputs, collects all the required info, and submits it to ApplyOnline,” Smith says.
“With Chief we can get that done within six hours, and that’s including all client interaction.”
She adds that this will only get better, and that in her own trials of the software, both as a customer and as a broker, within an hour the broker can already be providing loan scenarios to the client.
But My Local Broker isn’t just about cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking.
Smith tells Australian Broker that the business also has a strong training and mentorship arm. Brokers that are still completing their compulsory two years in the industry also have an in-house broker mentor in Glen Darcy, who provides training on branding, website presence and referral partnerships with accountants and nancial advisers in brokers’ local areas.
Next month the aggregator will also be launching the My Local Broker Masterclass that will cover a range of topics, from how brokers can market themselves on social media to further educating around online, including Google indexing and SEO for brokers targeting their local areas, as well as risk and compliance workshops.
Again, technology and digital are front and centre in the education side of My Local Broker’s offering. Smith reveals that the company is currently spending “around $20,000 a month on Google AdWords, and we’ve got two people who work in-house for us full-time who work on SEO and SEM.”
The next frontier
Despite the fact that My Local Broker is in its infancy, only just edging its way out into the aggregator market, in 2017 the aggregator is not holding back. The idea of hitting the brakes and waiting for broker traction is not one that Smith has in mind. In fact she has no hesitation in doing the opposite – accelerating towards other business ventures – namely, the launch of My Local Conveyancer, My Local Financial Adviser and My Local Insurance Broker.
Smith believes her company is taking the idea of facilitating broker diversification to a level that no other aggregator has yet reached. She says, “2017 is about the involvement of the My Local group and how we can really support brokers through that diversification method. I think other aggregators, in terms of them wanting to have their brokers diversify is all well and good, but in terms of what they deliver I don’t believe that just offering a product to a broker allows them to fully get the benefit of diversification.”
She explains that My Local Broker is not just partnering with businesses but integrating these businesses’ logic into the Chief software, which allows brokers to access information and quotes on non-mortgage products in one platform, rather than having to log into an external interface.
“... [T]raditionally it would be a name and a number and a whole new data collection, which is quite painful for the customer, so we’re sort of thinking, well, the customer has the ability for wanting all of these services, but they have to share their data with everybody individually. So why wouldn’t we just share it with permission?”
The aggregator is already working with five partners, including SME lender Moula, and ALI for its mortgage protection insurance. Commercial, vehicle and equipment nance will all be within easy reach of brokers using Chief.
“... [W]e are all about diversification, but we pick diversification partners based on their integration capabilities,” Smith explains.
Smith has taken on a massive challenge with the plans for the My Local brand, but it’s a challenge she’s unwaveringly up for. If successful, the Chief CRM will save precious time and energy, making it a game changer for brokers and customers alike.
The idea of the efficiency that comes with data sharing across separate industries is an alluring one, and if Smith has anything to do with it, it won’t be long until brokers nationwide are wooed.
Thank you to the Australian Broker team for such a great article!
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