Mortgage franchise creates its own adviser culture

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The new financial planning side of a mortgage franchise is growing so rapidly that it has had to appoint two new practice development managers and expects to increase its adviser network almost three-fold in the next financial year.

Mortgage Choice has been a stalwart in the mortgage industry for the past 22 years; however 18 months ago it made the leap to start growing a financial planning footprint.

General manager of financial planning Tania Milnes told Wealth Professional the decision was driven directly by client and broker demand.

“People coming through the door are in the 25 to 45 demographic and don’t generally have a relationship with an adviser,” she said. “It was a natural progression for clients given their existing relationship with the brokers.”

Because the first step in any financial journey is normally the purchase of a house, Milnes said it’s been a great opportunity to guide these customers from this early life stage into what can become a long-term financial advice relationship.

Furthermore, traditionally this younger demographic hasn’t been targeted by the financial service industry, she said.

And unlike other broker businesses that have expanded into financial advice, there is no overlap between the brokers and the advisers at Mortgage Choice.

“We believe very firmly that they can’t be the same people and they can’t wear the same hats,” said Milnes. “We definitely believe that it’s very difficult to be an expert in both areas. But the customers already trust the brand so it’s a natural transition for the client to move from the broker to the adviser. I think that’s what makes us unique.”

And because the business started the adviser arm “from scratch”, it was able to create exactly the kind of culture it wanted, which is in line with recent legislative changes and the philosophy of FoFA.

Milnes said they only recruit advisers who have the same values as this culture.

One of the major values is transparency, and the financial planning arm has a published price list, something important for the targeted demographic who want to know upfront how much they will need to pay.

Financial planning becoming a part of broker businesses will be a growing trend in the industry, predicts Milnes.

“I think customers are going to start to demand it more. They’re looking for expert advice and they don’t like giving their personal information to lots of different people,” she said.

In fact, after the introduction of the financial planning section, demand is almost outstripping supply at Mortgage Choice.

They are currently undergoing an aggressive recruitment process and are looking to almost treble their adviser number from the current 25 to 60 by the end of the next financial year.

The business has also just appointed two practice development managers: Garth Campbell, a planner with more than 18 years of experience, and Joseph Raad, a former training and relationship manager at Macquarie Bank.

Milnes said the journey heeds the aim of making financial planning accessible to all Australians.

“What we’re finding is that when customers sit in front of an adviser and starting to understand the advice, they are seeing the value of personalised advice and are choosing to take it up.”

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