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Ongoing education is essential for any broker who’s looking to excel – or to be frank, even keep pace – in an ever-shifting industry. But is the face of modern broker education changing? MPA hears what two thought leaders in the field have to say
It seems almost cliché to point out that broker education is becoming more of a necessity than ever before. After all, has there ever really been a time in the history of mortgage broking when ongoing education was unnecessary? Perhaps back in the 12th century when the Knights Templar were laying the early foundations of today’s banking system, but even then one must assume that they updated their policies and products from time to time.
Nonetheless, the fact remains: ongoing broker education is now more necessary than it has ever been. But how can it best be approached?
For Blake Buchanan, aggregation manager at Specialist Finance Group, the ever-changing landscape of regulatory environments, products, pricing and more means that every broker needs to keep on top of things, not only to remain compliant with industry changes but also to ensure they are experts in their craft.
“Banks must do all they can to support brokers by helping keep them up to date; likewise, brokers must play their part too” Ian Rakhit, Bankwest
“They say the children are our future, and it is no different in our industry,” says Buchanan. “New-to-industry brokers will sustain this channel, so it’s vital that we get the fundamentals right from the outset. Then we can continually build and improve upon those foundations to ensure exceptional consumer outcomes.”
For Ian Rakhit, head of third party at Bankwest, the main reason why broker education is such a focus is twofold. The expectations of customers and prospective homeowners are constantly evolving, so brokers must keep pace with them. Additionally, the needs of brokers themselves are also changing. Lenders must ensure they’re doing their part to help meet these needs so they’re in the best possible position to service and support customers.
“A broker’s role is a complex one – providing a range of financial products to customers from a multitude of lenders, all of whom have different policies and frequently changing products,” says Rakhit. “Banks must do all they can to support brokers by helping keep them up to date; likewise, brokers must play their part too.”
Building better knowledge bases
So, what are the best ways to ensure that brokers are receiving the tools they need to stay up to date? After all, education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – and any attempts to forge it into one are likely to run into difficulty very quickly.
“When dealing with people of all different backgrounds, locations and client bases, lenders need to ensure they have multiple vehicles of delivery,” says Buchanan. “That includes – but isn’t limited to – face-toface training, personal development days, webinars, online learning centres, peer-topeer assistance programs and more.”
Buchanan also notes that educational program design isn’t just about what’s currently appropriate or required – it’s also about being able to read the market movements to pre-empt change and help teach broker networks about the future of their businesses, customers and the industry.
Rakhit points to the PD days and webinar groups run by the industry associations as crucial, as well as the importance of developing internal training systems, such as e-learning. Offering such programs to brokers can be essential for familiarising them with new products, policies and procedures, while also demonstrating the level of support provided.
“Over the last two years we’ve prioritised investment in our broker offering in line with our vision to deliver brilliant customer experiences every day,” says Rakhit. “As is the case in so many areas of life these days, the impact of technology on broker education is huge. Just as we see that customers want flexibility in their options, it’s great to be able to offer brokers a range of methods which they can access to help them upskill.”
One of the key drivers of new methods of training and upskilling has also been technology; it’s no longer necessary to send staff off-site and then hope that their training somehow filters back into the wider workforce. Rather, a greater number of employees can be catered for, which also minimises the loss of day-to-day productivity that previous approaches tended to result in It also means clearer communication of the relevant knowledge to more staff, rather than needing to rely on (possibly unreliable) information relayed by other internal staff.
“Technology provides a wonderful and ever-evolving connection to our customers and partners,” says Buchanan. “By utilising technology, we can bring the experts to you, at a time convenient to you and in a style that maximises your ability to learn. Whether it be videos, web conferencing, surveys, tests, scenario requests or other, we continually look for new methods to educate.”
2020 and beyond
Rakhit believes the main change in 2020 will be the emphasis on the best interests duty. Born out of the royal commission and due to come into effect on 1 July, Rakhit describes this new development as “undoubtedly a positive step for the industry”. In turn, he’s eager to ensure that this knowledge is transferred more widely throughout the industry.
“Documenting customer discussions and being able to demonstrate that the best interests of the customer were identified, prioritised and delivered will be a central component of our educational aims this year,” says Rakhit.
“By utilising technology, we can bring the experts to you, at a time convenient to you and in a style that maximises your ability to learn” Blake Buchanan, Specialist Finance Group
“Additionally, we’re continually pushing to improve fi rst-time accuracy rates to attempt to lessen frustrating delays in the approvals process, which are often caused by simple clerical issues. We’ll continue to listen to and support brokers and work closely with the industry to respond constructively and adapt to the changing landscape.”
Buchanan notes that continuing education will remain vital for industry professionals.
“In recent years there has been increased scrutiny of broker education and the education framework – broker requirements have increased; CPD requirements and deal quality will be looked to as a measure throughout 2020 and beyond.”
Accordingly, Buchanan sees one of his key focuses as ensuring brokers are effectively educated about the possibilities and benefi ts inherent in CRM technology.
“An excellent CRM can enhance your business and create efficiencies, leaving you more time to do what you do best, which is helping your customers,” he says.
“But there’s no point if your brokers don’t know how to use it – so it’s important that we utilise our national training teams and work with our brokers so that they can continually upskill.”
Though change is afoot, the future looks bright for the business as a whole. Given the increasing complexity of loans and the borrowing process, brokers might need to do more than ever before to keep up to speed – but they’re far more necessary than ever before too.
“Brokers do a fantastic job of helping people find the right home loan for their needs and also in supporting Bankwest customers once they’ve taken out a loan with us,” says Rakhit.
“In terms of the changes we face this year and into the future, I’ve seen the industry adapt to changes in the past and I’m very confident it can continue to provide the services that many customers value so highly.”