Although a Certificate IV in Finance and Mortgage Broking is the minimum qualification to become a mortgage broker, many brokerages view a diploma as the starting point for a successful career in the field.
However, for Ben Magnus (pictured above), head of Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory, a diploma is just one aspect of a two-year training program his brokers need to go through.
“The diploma serves a purpose, but it doesn't provide practical skills,” said Magnus. “It's a foundation, an entry point to access lenders, aggregators, and do basic broking. But to be an experienced and trusted advisor, you need more than just the diploma.”
Empower Wealth wins Brokerage of the Year
Since Empower Wealth is a property investment business at its heart, Magnus said the team trained its brokers to be “investment-savvy”.
“We teach them the lending strategies needed to free up cash flow for clients to invest. It's a unique skill set that other brokerages might not have in place,” Magnus said.
“We do more than just refinancing, purchasing, or equity releases; we engage in significant strategy work that sets clients up for the future, not just for the transaction at hand. Our focus is on building wealth for the future.”
The approach clearly worked, with Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory winning the prestigious Liberty Australian Brokerage of the Year at the 2023 Australian Mortgage Awards in October.
This came after winning the Commonwealth Bank Brokerage of the Year (Over 20 staff) award earlier in the night.
“Both the awards were incredibly humbling,” said Magnus. “We've spent the last couple of years growing our brokerage, and this acknowledgment from our peers and the industry has galvanised the team and set them on the path to becoming top contenders. This recognition just helps with that."
How Empower Wealth became a billion-dollar brokerage
When Magnus joined Empower Wealth in 2019, the brokerage had 13 staff. In 2023, it’s grown to around 40 employees and settles more than $1 billion per year.
“We've spent that time growing, training, and cultivating talent,” Magnus said.
Empower Wealth launched its broker academy around two years ago during the pandemic with the intent to resource the team for growth.
Now that the class of 2021 had graduated, Magnus said he had a solid pipeline of brokers coming through Empower Wealth’s integrated company.
“I now have a knowledgeable team of brokers who are experienced in the industry. They are eager to progress further, and their development is another key factor in our success.
“This allows me to implement an internal succession plan where an advisor who has been with the team for two or three years and has a $200 million book can be exit from being supplied leads to focus on organic growth and support of their book (client retention strategy)."
“This approach enables us to continuously and organically grow our business while providing exceptional customer service."
Empower Wealth’s broker academy: Beyond the diploma
Empower Wealth's broker academy is different from a diploma in several ways.
First, Magnus said its training was more hands-on and practical than the theoretical approach of a diploma program.
“Our brokers learn by doing, working with experienced professionals in all aspects of the business.”
Second, the broker academy is integrated with all of Empower Wealth’s other services, including buyers’ agents, property planning, financial planning, and tax and advisory services.
This exposure to different areas of expertise allows brokers to develop a well-rounded understanding of the financial industry and the solutions Empower Wealth offers.
Finally, the broker academy is designed to train brokers to be lifelong financial advisers, not just transaction brokers.
“This all-encompassing approach is something you don't get from a mortgage broking diploma. You need to get it from an apprenticeship or an academy like ours,” Magnus said. “This integrated approach has contributed significantly to our success, as we experience minimal client churn due to their utilisation of multiple services."
Are your brokers farmers or hunters?
As 2023 draws to a close, Magnus said his team was focused on enhancing its tech capabilities by leveraging its budgeting and cash flow forecasting tool, Moorr, to implement smart analytics.
This enables Empower Wealth brokers to detect when a client modifies rates, changes a field, or adds a new loan.
“With this technology, we can offer a smart assistance service that proactively notifies clients when their rates are out of market and suggests connecting them with a broker for a review,” said Magnus.
“This technology has increased our lead generation to 300 to 400 leads per month.”
This innovation is underpinned by a philosophy that encourages lead generation.
“We're transitioning our brokers from a 'farmer' mentality, where they rely on business coming to them, to a 'hunter' mentality, where they actively seek out opportunities,” Magnus said.
“We're providing various training and courses to enhance our brokers' capabilities in anticipation of the upcoming challenging 12 months due to interest rate hikes and inflation. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a thriving enterprise in this dynamic market.”
What do you think of Empower Wealth’s broker training academy? Comment below.