Asset assistance – Part 1
With brokers increasingly helping SMEs gain access to finance to keep their lights on, purchase machinery and grow their businesses, there is an increasing demand for training and support in this area. Connective Asset Finance tells us how they are assisting brokers in writing asset finance.
Aggregation companies are well known in the mortgage broking industry for providing their members with a panel of lenders to offer to clients, for helping streamline processes through their client relationship management (CRM) systems, providing personalised business development and compliance support, and ensuring that brokers continue training and upskilling. But while many brokers turn to an aggregator for mortgages, there is a growing call for support in the business finance space, too.
Speaking to The Adviser during a live webinar in June (The Adviser Live – EOFY Special: Asset finance in focus), Brent Starrenburg – head of Connective Asset Finance, part of the Connective group – explained why the aggregation arm was specialising in this area.
“I took on the role of looking after the asset finance piece with Connective about five years ago, first as BDM and then as the head of the business, and I saw a real need to help brokers understand that in this industry, it’s a little bit different,” he said.
“There’s probably not as much education [in the market] as I think there should be. So, we’re very much focused on providing that education level through professional development days, webinars and networking events with lenders, etc. to make sure that the brokers are actually educated across the different types of products that are available to them.”
Mr Starrenburg added that an aggregator can also offer brokers a larger panel than they may be able to achieve if self-accrediting with individual lenders, all while bringing together a network of peers to link with.
“It’s actually understanding that there are other brokers out there that are going through the same trials and tribulations that they might be going through. It’s about being able to network with those brokers in a ‘safe’ environment, being able to have those conversations knowing that they’re not trying to snip at each other or clip each other’s wings, but they’re actually trying to ascertain how they can grow each other’s businesses; that’s what we do,” he said.
“We make a point of being able to try and help businesses grow, both through our networking, through the lender relationships that we’ve got, but also through the education piece.”
He continued: “So, what we offer is not necessarily just about product, it’s about how they can do marketing and use a CRM system to help grow their business. We’ve been very specific about employing BDMs that actually are from asset finance backgrounds. So, all of the BDMs that look after Connective Asset Finance have got asset finance experience in some way, shape or form. Because they can have those conversations with a broker that they’re on the same level, they know what a broker is going through on a day-to-day business.”
Compliance is playing an increasingly important role in the finance writing space – with aggregators providing systems of support to help ensure their broker members are across the relevant requirements. Mr Starrenburg highlighted that Connective Asset Finance has dedicated compliance teams based across Australia to help brokers with their deals, which is backed up by system processes.
He explained: “Our systems are set up to generate the appropriate documentations automatically for the broker. While they’ve got to still put the correct information in there to get the right account on those documentations, we provide a workflow and system that actually helps make that process a lot easier for the broker.”
However, he added that there still is “a lot of ownership on the broker to make sure that they’re collecting the bank statements, to make sure they really understand their client when delving into the questions”.
“But we certainly support brokers from both an education perspective and a compliance perspective.
It’s a very big thing for us,” the Connective Asset Finance head said during the webcast.
Having a strong and constant marketing plan is a key part of lead generation and customer engagement, whether for mortgage finance or business finance. Mr Starrenburg noted that having a speciality aggregator can also help provide the additional marketing support at key, or particularly busy points of time – for example, the beginning of the new financial year or when relevant tax reforms are announced.
He explained: “I would argue for any broker, whether it be asset or mortgage, it’s about keeping in front of mind with your clients.
“YOU NEED BOTH GOOD MARKETING AND A GOOD CRM; I THINK THEY GO HAND IN HAND.”
Brent Starrenburg, head of Connective Asset Finance
"It’s a numbers game. You’ve got to get out there and talk to people. But if you’re not front of mind, they’re going to go somewhere else. So, I think marketing is a key thing. And we, as an aggregator, provide a lot of marketing templates to our brokers to use to help generate that activity, to generate that inquiry.”
For example, Mr Starrenburg said that at the end of the last financial year, Connective Asset Finance offered brokers a template about the instant tax write-off to ensure their clients were aware of it.
“We also allow brokers to send SMS messages to their clients for birthdays and key milestones,” he said. “So, you can actually set up reminders to make sure that you’re keeping in front of mind with those clients as well.”
“So, you need both good marketing and a good CRM; I think they go hand in hand,” he said.
Find out more about asset finance and how to break into this area in Part 2 of Asset Assistance – out in the September edition of The Adviser magazine.
First published in The Adviser, 2 August 2019.