Mortgage Business Awards winners: Non-Bank of the Year — Firstmac

Firstmac was crowned the Non-Bank of the Year at the Mortgage Business Awards 2023, in recognition of its strong broker rating, product range, and technology offering. We sit down with Jake Sanders, Firstmac’s head of third-party sales, to find out what the non-bank considers the key to its success.

What steps have you taken to ensure operational excellence?

We’ve spent a lot of time bolstering our operations and processing teams to provide more support to brokers.

One of the brokers’ most important commodities is time, therefore, a lenders operation needs to be swift and quick to alleviate brokers from that transactional piece and so they can get in front of more clients.

We found that doing that with the teams, not only bolstering them by way of numbers, but also providing more training and upskilling to a variety of different departments, enables them to make decisions there and then, rather than having to refer internally.

We’ve found thats resulted in more consistent SLAs from application to approval.

Weve also looked at a lot of system enhancements and transitioned onto some different platforms, auto approvals, etc. Were finding these are helping provide a better broker experience from application through to approval and then onto settlement.

Can you provide us with an example of how you’ve innovated in the last 12 months and what impact this has had on the business?

A primary example of innovation that has helped through last year was the evolution of Broker Tools. Broker Tools is a one-stop shop platform for brokers to navigate all things Firstmac at the touch of a finger.

It’s a one-stop shop for servicing, for any credit policy. You can track your own applications, upload conditions, you can even chat directly to a BDM (an actual BDM, based here in Brisbane) for a scenario.

Broker Tools has come a long way and we’ve really spent a lot of time on it. We’re pleased that all of the feedback from brokers has certainly been excellent, particularly around how easy it is to use.

Regardless of how tech-savvy you are as a broker, this has just made it that much easier, which were really pleased with. Therell be more enhancements to come through next year.

How do you ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is the number one priority for anyone in lending, whether you’re a broker or a lender.

Brokers and borrowers are our customers. We do that initial transaction with the broker, we vet scenarios, we work through to approval and then settlement. We’re often out there trying to ‘sell’ what we’re doing well and how we can help you.

We’re acutely aware that the broker’s relationship is primarily with their client and there’s nothing worse than setting a client up with a lender, getting to settlement, and that client having a poor experience post-settlement.

We spend a lot of time in this space post-settlement, so broker clients are happy. We’ve got a customer care team based here in Brisbane that is operational throughout the week to be able to talk to clients directly.

The feedback has been very positive. When they call us, they can speak to a human who understands their needs. Or for a more digital approach, borrowers can log on to the Firstmac Money app, which offers all the functionality that any other platform would.

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Can you give us an example of how the business has grown in the past 12 months?

The best example of business growth for Firstmac is that we’ve joined multiple aggregator panels.

We’re across all major aggregator panels nationally now, and I think that’s a real testament to the Firstmac brand that’s been built over many years.

The opportunity is so vast. We have so many accredited brokers and we’ve increased our BDM teams as well throughout the course of the past 12 months and are able to provide strong service levels to all of our accredited brokers.

We’re conscious to not only look after our existing brokers who have been using us for a long period of time, but we’re certainly keen to get out there and meet the new brokers who have been accredited over recent times.

[Related: Winners of first-ever Mortgage Business Awards revealed]

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