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Sponsored by: MPA’s Top 100 Brokers for 2022 delivered eye-catching figures, even higher than 2021’s record-breaking numbers.
Justin Doobov maintained his place in the top spot by writing over $582m of residential loans in the 12 months to June, an increase of $159m from 2021.
To earn a place in this year’s ranking, brokers had to write at least $135m, whereas the cut-off last year was $98m – a figure that wouldn’t get into the current top 200.
“I genuinely feel 2022 was one of the best years to be involved in the finance broking industry”
Graeme Holm, Infinity Group Australia
The lending market continued its march upward in the period covered by MPA’s survey, with the impact of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s successive interest rate rises yet to drive any material slowdown.
“I genuinely feel 2022 was one of the best years to be involved in the finance broking industry,” says Infinity Group Australia CEO Graeme Holm, who was ranked second after writing $427m.
“We have had record high lending volumes combined with amazing wealth creation and financial growth for our customers and community.”
Government data shows that new lending increased significantly in the year to June for owner-occupier housing and investors, staying above the $30bn mark for the entire 12 months to set a new high of $382.8bn, up 21% from $316.1bn in the previous period and the second fastest yearly growth on record.
“Having worked in the broader finance industry since 2001, it was certainly a year of unprecedented growth,” says Top 100 Broker Adam Rakowski (60th place with $165m), principal at Ortus Financial in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. “The sheer volume of applications is likely something we won’t see again for some time.”
Figures from the MPA survey also show the average number of loans written across the Top 100 Brokers at 300 versus 270 last year.
“It was just completely manic dealing with existing clients, new clients, referrals and making sure that we obtained the approval for them on time,” says Helen Avis, director at Specialist Mortgage in Western Australia, and another Top 100 Broker (26th place with $209m).
The more accepted remote working environment helped brokers handle the frenetic pace.
“While Zoom was a godsend as far as increasing my capacity, it also meant I could always be seeing clients, which I kind of did for a while through to 9.30pm plus most nights, and then the admin after that,” explains Up Loans co-founder Kirsty Dunphey (51st place with $175m), based in Tasmania.
In Burwood, NSW, Hank Hong (40th place with $183m) at Mortgage Pros credits his success to an “insane work ethic”. The Top 100 Broker says he starts work at 5am every day of the year. “By 7am, email tasks have been scheduled, so I am 100% ready to be available for clients,” he adds.
A strong client service mentality also brings in more business.
“[We] keep working and provide the 200% service we do every day to every client – this is what brings in the referrals,” says Hong.
At Secure Finance Services in Norwest, NSW, principal mortgage broker Sakib Manzoor (84th place with $145m) anticipated the boom as interest rates dropped to record lows and took on extra staff to prepare. But even that wasn’t enough to cope – staff ended up working weekends, during their annual leave over the New Year period and even while they had COVID.
“They still managed to work remotely even during their sickness to ensure our clients were looked after and their settlements went through smoothly,” says Sakib.
Jonathan Valentino (77th place with $151m), director, Northern Beaches at Catalyst Advisers, points out the role of new tech in boosting business.
“We have heavily invested in our back-end team and technology to assist us in being able to speak to more clients [and] give our clients a seamless experience,” says the Top 100 Broker.
But brokers also acknowledge that much of the demand was due less to anything special they did and more to the strong increases in house prices in the first half of financial year 2022 and the post-COVID economic rebound.
“There was a prolific buying spree going on,” says Avis. “My market is mainly dealing with expats, many of whom were planning their relocation back to Australia over the next two to five years and needed to buy a home to live in on their return and decided to get in before they were priced out of the market.”
“The sheer volume of applications is likely something we won’t see again for some time”
Adam Rakowski, Ortus Financial
Research by CommBank on household spending shows intentions to buy a house declined by 3.1% on-month in October 2022, taking the annual change to 27.3% below where it was 12 months ago.
“Given the lags involved in monetary policy, we should expect to see further weakness in home buying in the coming months,” says CommBank chief economist Stephen Halmarick.
The jury is out on whether brokerages can find their footing in the transitioning environment.
“The big question is whether a ‘soft landing’ will be achieved that avoids the harsher potential outcomes,” adds Steve Jackson, KPMG Australia’s head of banking.
Some brokers view this as a chance to achieve even higher settlement numbers over the next 12 months.
Sakib has a target for settlements nearly 40% above Secure Finance figures for 2022.
“We are working on a marketing plan to increase our footprint in the market. Building on our referral model, we will be aiming to sign up new referral partners and we have started working on a campaign to reach out to 6,000 accountants based in NSW,” he says.
Such ambitions may be supported by macro factors such as buyers shifting to cheaper options rather than simply vanishing.
“With borrowing capacity being hit hard as interest rates rise, it’s likely more housing demand has been diverted towards more affordable sectors of the market,” says CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless.
A lack of supply as sellers sit out shaky price trends will also support the market.
“I expect the major capital city housing markets to recover and steadily grow again as demand continues to outstrip supply,” says Holm at Infinity. He also has several new innovations in the works and foresees “exciting times ahead”.
Another source of broker business will accrue from the rolling over of a large volume of low fixed-rate loans to refinancing at higher rates. Some players see the potential for mortgage stress, which is expected to begin to materialise into mid-FY23 when $237bn of loans are scheduled for rollover across the big four banks.
This wave of refinancing is already becoming a key driver of business for brokers, with levels rising to new highs in June and August, well before the majority of loans are due for an interest rate change.
Top 100 Broker Get Real Finance in Fortitude Valley, QLD is recruiting to deal with the situation.
“We are currently about to hire two offshore staff, and we have plans to hire another two three months later to cope with the extra workload of all the fixed rate maturing,” says director Kelly Cameron (50th place with $175m).
“There will be lots of opportunities with the back book repricing and it will create lots of opportunities to start conversations with our existing clients.”
The latest delinquency rates for home loans are at their lowest since 2018 and there has been no evidence of panicked selling or forced sales. Brokers are still waiting for the penny to drop.
“We haven’t noticed a material impact on volumes – our most recent quarter was a record,” says Rakowski. But he has observed more scrutiny from banks and questions from credit assessors – something he welcomes.
“We see this as an opportunity to thrive as we have 20-plus years’ experience across many cycles.”
“For the company, [a slower market] will be a great time to focus on training and upskilling the entire team”
Michael Xia, Mortgage Channel
After the hectic pace, some of the Top 100 brokers are looking forward to slowing down. Avis aims to have a bigger team going forward but to do less broking as she mentors the firm’s next generation. Dunphey also hopes to grow her team and take on more of a support role.
“I think my figures on the list this year will be as strong as they will get in my career, and I now plan to scale back going forward,” she says.
“[I want to] spend lots of time holidaying with my kids and try to eke back more of a life than I’ve had over the past couple of years.”
Likewise, Top 100 Broker Michael Xia (37th place with $187m) hopes to have more time for his young children, as well as recalibrate his employees’ skill set to adapt to the changing lending environment.
“For the company, it will be a great time to focus on training and upskilling the entire team,” says the founder of Mortgage Channel.
“I think my figures on the list this year will be as strong as they will get in my career, and I now plan to scale back going forward”
Kirsty Dunphey, Up Loans
We are incredibly proud to sponsor the Top 100 Brokers for 2022. We want to congratulate you on continuing to raise the bar and help set the standard for excellence within the mortgage broking industry.
At CommBank the team and I are with you every step of the way; we are committed to strengthening our partnerships so we can build a strong and sustainable third party channel that supports you to deliver exceptional customer outcomes. It’s important that we take time to reflect on the achievements of all Top 100 Brokers. A sincere thank you for your exemplary hard work and dedication to your customers, ensuring that you provide them with the best experience possible, helping them achieve their homeownership goals.
Again, congratulations to everyone who made this illustrious list in 2022 and good luck in your future endeavours!
General Manager Third Party Banking,
To ﬁnd the Top 100 Brokers in 2022, MPA asked brokers across the industry to submit the total value of loans they had written over the last ﬁnancial year. Brokers were also asked to state the number of loans they had written so MPA could determine their average loan size.
The Top 100 list was determined and ranked based on the value of loans written between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022.