Referrers, clients and AI: Insights from a Thought Leader

| May 25 - 4 min read

Perth’s Robert Flynn, Head Broker at award-winning Vorteil Financial Group, was LMG Executive Chairman Sam White’s guest on the latest Success Breed Success webinar series. Here are some of the topics impacting the industry that the pair discussed.

Artificial Intelligence and the future of brokers

Robert is a passionate advocate of the industry. At this year’s WA Better Business Awards, he was named the Industry Thought Leader of the Year.

By sharing his insights and reflections with brokers, the LMG Partner business owner is encouraging his peers to think about their role in the financial ecosystem and how that directly or indirectly benefit their clients.

He encourages his peers to think, for example, around what their value proposition is amidst advancements in AI. If brokers are simply arranging a transaction, glossing over their client recommendations before handing the loan to their support team to process, they’re missing out on a prime opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with the client.

“It all comes back to the question of ‘What kind of broker are you?’,” he said. “Customers want a human element.

“I think you need to look at how you can use artificial intelligence and technology to enhance your service offering. Does it help you to service twice as many clients; does it provide a better experience for them? It's all about the end-user experience.

“You have to be doing more than just providing a loan. You have to be a sounding board - the trusted advisor.

“Customers might come to you two years before they're planning on quitting their job, starting a business and buying a premises. At that time you're of huge value.

“What you have done at the end of the process is arrange a loan for them, but you’ve also provided the client so much more. AI will not do that for people.”

Productivity and referrals

There’s no such thing as a standard week in broking, Robert said.

That being said, at a minimum, he aims for 10 client appointments per week, with referrer meetings plugging the gaps.

“If I have 15 client appointments in a week, then that’s great. But I then might only meet with one or two referrers or maybe none.

“If I have a week where it’s a lull … and I might only be meeting with five clients, then I'll try and book in as many breakfasts, coffees, lunches, dinners with people who are referral partners or could be a referral partner.”

Robert notes a big distinction between a ‘referral partner’ and a ‘referral source’. Investing in time that nurtures the former, accounts for a considerable part of his week.

“I've been actively involved in a lot of referral groups for the entire time I've been a broker,” he said.

“A real estate agent or an accountant could be a referral source for you, but a referral partner needs to be someone that you share clients with and who you pass business back and forth with.

“I'd much rather have a smaller group of very active referral partners which is doing regular business together than a shotgun approach where you have heaps of referral partners.”

A lot of professionals don’t appreciate how long it takes to form trusted referral relationships, said Robert. Trust certainly won’t be won by shouting someone a couple of $4.50 coffees.

“You might meet with a real estate agent twice and then think, ‘Oh, I’m just not getting anything out of this’. But you have to think of it like your best friend in high school who you sat next to for thousands of hours before they became your best mate - you have to put in time and effort.”

Robert doesn’t pay for referrals. Instead, he provides a service proposition that ‘helps them get the job done they need to do’. When sharing clients, they should all be working toward the same goal, he said.

“I don't want a clip of their comms or their fee, and I'm not going to give them any of mine because, ultimately, if I don't do my bit, they don't get their bit anyway.”

Structuring client meetings

There’s a balance between productivity and client service. Some meetings can be straight forward with the solution found easily. Other meetings can be more complex, with the client’s needs and situation requiring greater time.

At Vorteil Financial Group, Robert and his partner Kat service a broad range of clientele. Ideally, he tries to hit 45 minutes for a client meeting, but appreciates the need for flexibility.

“I always book people in for an hour but for some clients, like a refinance, those are 25-30 minute Zoom calls,” he said.

“A big part of our business is the First Home Buyer space. We allow an hour (for these meetings) but for some people it will take longer because you have to explain the difference between schemes and other elements.

“If we're talking to First Home Buyers, we have a motto of two things: ‘just because you can doesn't mean you should’, and ‘it's never, no, it's just no for now’. It's always about letting someone know what they can do and then having an honest and frank conversation with them around whether they should.

“Ultimately, we're not there to make their decisions for them; we’re there to empower them to make informed decisions. Sometimes it's a journey … and it’s about providing all that education to the client.”

Filling the pipeline

Robert’s always checking his pipeline, ensuring there’s a steady flow.

As an LMG Partner business owner, Robert has a suite of digital marketing tools available to him to extend his profile in the marketplace - features like lead generation and qualification platforms, professional video production, advanced marketing automation and a dynamic website - from which he generates lead opportunities.

“One of the biggest challenges I've had in my career is that busy times make quiet times because you're too busy to go out and prospect,” he said. “You might be faced with more and more lodgements, chasing up approvals and dealing with questions for bank assessors. Then, all of a sudden, you get through it all and you’re relieved, thinking, ‘Oh, I can breathe’. But then you think, ‘Oh, I've got nothing to do’.

“You need to have that balance and always know what’s coming through your pipeline.”

Blocking out calendar time to build referral relationships or re-engage with existing clients is critical, he said.

“You could call them up and say, ‘Hey, it's been 18 months since your house went through - how's it all going? You just don’t know what's going to come out of it.”

Check out the session on-demand here.