Events – your voice, your future.

We are inviting every Australian mortgage broker to attend an important bipartisan session on this subject; this is your invitation to take a seat at the table.

We need you there.

This year sees the mortgage broking industry face additional pressures and responsibilities as the conversations around regulatory recommendation and review really hot up. As you know, the Federal Government has asked the regulator, ASIC to examine our sector with a particular focus on broker remuneration. The review will be concluded by the end of 2016.

Come hear how the industry is responding to these challenges. This will be a focused session on just what this review means for our sector and what the industry is doing to respond.

We will be outlining where the review is at, the data we’ve been supplying to support the broker position, the next steps and what we now all need to do as a unified group to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the broking sector.

The challenge ahead is a whole-of-industry responsibility; to come out ahead it’s critical you’re at this event to understand how best your voice can be heard.

Speakers

  • Guest keynote speaker Rod McGeoch, AO
  • Brett McKeon, AFG Managing Director
  • Mark Hewitt, AFG General Manager – Sales and Operations
  • Siobhan Hayden, MFAA CEO
  • Peter White, FBAA CEO

With audience Q&A panel facilitated by Rob Carlton

If you’re an Australian mortgage broker, you don’t need to be an AFG member, register for an event in your capital city below:

My Broker, My Choice – Registration dates

Do you really need an office? The concept of co-working

It’s an office Jim, but not as we know it!  Once the domain of tech start-ups, coworking is now gaining a broader appeal as small businesses discover the benefits of shorter leases, high-end facilities and a CBD address.

Economist and business owner Kate Morrison first came across the coworking phenomena while working in London 10 years ago. “Back then, it was guys doing software coding, with pizza boxes and empty coke cans around them … not suitable for the kind of work we were doing,” she recalled.

Fortunately for business professionals such as Morrison, coworking has evolved past its grungy roots to become a high-end alternative for SMEs looking for cheaper, flexible office space. It is one of the fastest-growing commercial office trends in the country, with most coworking spaces offering regular onsite business functions and formal and informal networking opportunities as part of rental packages. Businesses can rent space by the day, month, or year.

So when Morrison went looking for commercial premises for her home-based consultancy firm Era Innovation two years ago, she chose a studio office in a coworking space in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to test the water. “The great thing is it’s flexible, so we didn’t have to sign up to a year’s worth of commitment,” she said.

A month-to-month lease extended for more than a year allowed Morrison to establish her company before moving her burgeoning staff of nine to independent office space this year. But flexible rent arrangements are not the only potential benefit. ‘Synergy’ is the word most often used to describe the upside of coworking, with shared kitchen/lounge areas bringing workers from varied backgrounds together. “Every time I go and make a coffee I solve a problem with someone I have a chat to,” one coworker said.

Others described it as the camaraderie of an office, without the office politics. And for those small business owners who frequently need to outsource work, the slew of freelancers who hot desk in coworking spaces can provide a ready pool of talent. Sydney businesswoman Jacqui Esdaile said she believed the coworking model had the potential to supersede serviced offices and make inroads into traditional office leasing.

Esdaile founded Gravity Coworking in Sydney’s CBD in 2014 and followed that up with a Brisbane office in 2015, and a Melbourne space, which opened in March. Underlining the rapid growth, Esdaile said plans were underway to expand the Sydney office to double the available floor space by June.

An interior designer by trade, Esdaile said she felt coworking had predominantly catered to the tech start-up market and her vision was to broaden that base to more small businesses. Her Gravity offices feature high-end fittings and CBD locations, with funky open-plan kitchen spaces to encourage ‘coworkers’ to mingle, sharing problems and ideas. “Traditional coworking spaces I guess have been more about catering to total start-ups. We felt that there was this market of entrepreneurs and business people who had come out of corporate positions, or were maybe on their second and third business that wanted to be in a space that’s really high-end and professional,” Esdaile said.

In Perth, Liberty Executive Offices, which provides traditional serviced offices, opened a coworking sister space, known as Hive, to cater for growing demand for more collaborative spaces with a corporate edge. “The conversations I was having was that people really liked the idea of a community and the flexibility, but they wanted something more in keeping with their profession.” founder Jamie Vine said. “They weren’t really that comfortable with the normal (coworking) set up of beanbags and skateboards.”

Vine said flexibility was driving demand. “Just the ability to only pay when you use means that you can keep your overheads down and be very nimble and agile as your business changes and evolves.” Coworkers from disparate fields often socialised together at the end of the day. “They’ve forged these friendships and connections and they really do try to help each other out,” he said.

What is coworking?

A coworking space is an office space shared by people who are either self-employed or working for different employers. The term coworking was coined in 2005 by American Brad Neuberg who was looking for an alternative to the serviced office space he rented, which he felt was quite isolating. Neuberg came up with the idea of co-working, in which people who shared physical space and office equipment were also encouraged to share ideas and knowledge to help each other. “Those (serviced offices) just feel like share utilities to me,” Neuberg has said.

“Coworking has the extra spark of community.” While it had its roots in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley and is traditionally associated with start-ups, coworking has benefits for the wider SME community. People can usually rent open-plan desk space, or individual office spaces within coworking offices on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. Coworking spaces often host regular business development workshops on site and offer mentoring or other formal and informal collaboration opportunities for members.

Social media and your free weekly schedule

Have you set up your social media business pages and run out of energy or time to keep them current and updated? Don’t be ashamed, it’s ok to admit it. You’re not the only one! Many of our members tell us they just don’t have the time for social media. We hear you, you’re busy lodging deals and working through solutions for your customers. So we’ve put together a quick easy weekly timetable that you can follow to ensure that your business is kept current in the online world.  

Before you start with the schedule, ensure you have decided on which networks will work for you. Do have a read through our social media guides on Learn to get a taste for what each network can do for your business and make a choice on which to use. We would advise that at a minimum, you have a Facebook and LinkedIn page set up for your business.

If you don’t have the time to get on LinkedIn with regular posts or shares then at a minimum do make sure your business profile is up-to-date, give people a way to contact you and leave it at that. The page will still come up in search results occasionally and those looking for you on LinkedIn will see that you’re a professional business and know where to find the most up-to-date information.

Click here to download a simple PDF version of our helpful weekly social media schedule of the tasks we suggest you or someone in your business completes at a minimum to keep your Facebook running smoothly. You will notice in social media, the week starts on a Friday. This is to avoid the Monday worry of not having a post ready.

We encourage you to also look at your analytics pages on a monthly basis to keep in touch with the post types and topics that work with your followers.

Don’t forget that if you’re a member of AFG’s SMART Marketing program then you have plenty of content already created for you on your SMART website, Haven, Rate Alert and make sure you read through all the guides and tips on sharing this information to make the most of the resources. Enquiries entered on your SMART website go straight into FLEX so be sure to link through to that page when you can to minimise your time spent entering information, we’ve automated this for you 

If you have a question about social media and you’ve already read through all our guides and tips then you can contact your BDM, RM or Member Support for more information.

Why is the branding behind my business so important?

Let’s get back to basics on branding for just a moment. What is a brand and why is it so important? Wikipedia defines a brand as ‘the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.’

Your brand is your calling card, your entry point and your introduction to everyone you come into contact with. If your brand looks dated it will imply your business practices are too if it looks cheap and unprofessional it will imply you are as well and may attract the sorts of clients you spend your life trying to avoid.

If you’re just setting up in business, and need to come up with a brand, or if you think your business is in need of rebranding, make sure you have a branding expert or someone you trust on hand. Early things to think about include the name — make sure it’s not already registered or trademarked, and also your online presence — before you make your final decisions on your brand name, make sure you can also secure the domain name you’re after.

When you’re thinking of your new brand or a rebranding of your business, think about the distinctive qualities about what you do that sets you apart from your competitors, and what value you’re offering your prospective clientele. Try to narrow down what your Unique Selling Point or USP is and ensure all your branding elements such as name, logo, tagline, colours and applications onto marketing and communication materials reflect it.

If you’re struggling to come up with a name, some prompts include initialism — a name made up of initials such as TJP Accounting, or something descriptive or evocative like the brand name Amazon, or personification such as the brand name Nike which takes its name from mythology. Make sure you do some preliminary Google searches too to ensure your brand name would come up well in organic searches, and ensure there isn’t a company with a similar name trading in an industry you wouldn’t want to be associated with!  Check the right domains are available too, and company profiles on facebook aren’t already taken which would create customer confusion.

Think about using a neologism (a made up name) for your brand, such as Kodak or Wii, as when you do this it’s more than likely that you will come up trumps on Google searches and stand out from the crowd.

Once you’ve established your brand, ensure it is professionally and consistently applied to all you do and has a style-guide of consistent fonts around it. Use it on your email signature, your Facebook page, your website and your wider marketing and communications.