There are higher expectations on advisers and brokers - and more regulation - than ever before. Jean-Pierre Gortan and Marketplace.Finance are helping by providing upskilling in areas brokers normally don't consider, like closing a sale. Gortan shares thoughts on how brokers can provide value, the work/life balance, and finding inspiration in the most unexpected places.
Many platforms are “cutting out the middleman” and going directly to consumers. With that in mind, what’s the value prop for Marketplace Finance?
It feels like the inevitable future that eventually will be the case across the industry. But commercial tends to be significantly more complex than a residential application and almost every transaction is different. For the more basic transactions this is more likely to be the case in the next say 3-5 years, but in the commercial space there will be complex deal structures and industry variables that are generally very difficult for a lender to capture directly in a data collection exercise.
I guess the way the industry is moving is forcing businesses to gain efficiencies in the collection of data and we’re making changes to our Marketplace Finance model to be able to accurately source data from different avenues. Marketplace Finance was launched effectively as a fulfillment business to help facilitate and close commercial transactions. Whilst there are platforms out there that make it easy for a lender to deal directly with the client, where that middleman is important is when the transaction doesn’t perhaps fit the parameters of a major bank – and in this situation a client will generally be looking for someone to guide them.
It’s also becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to build a direct relationship with a bank and particularly with some of those more complex transactions, clients may be unaware that there are other options in the non-bank/private space that may actually be a better fit for the client’s needs. In saying that though a large portion of our clientele have multiple relationships with lenders and it’s definitely something that is transaction specific. Where a client can’t for whatever reason deal with a lender directly, they will remain loyal to their broker where they see you add more value to the transaction.
What are some of the more common pain points in the lending cycle?
I think the most important part of the lending cycle is that initial placement of a transaction and unfortunately there is a simplistic view in the market regarding the level of experience and knowledge required to be able to do this. It’s important to have the right connections with specific lenders so you know how to tailor a submission. Some brokers may know what to do but they will struggle getting quick responses or won’t know the right questions to ask from the client or what information the lender is looking for. When this process is disjointed, clients lose faith that brokers are actually adding any value and this is where there is a risk of them going directly to the lender.
Advisers and brokers are increasingly being pushed into a role where they’re responsible for all aspects of business, including lead generation and (for lack of a better word) closing a sale. What are some ways you help adviser’s skill up in these area
Marketplace Finance is essentially a training and referral network, allowing brokers to learn how to write commercial deals. The platform addresses industry demand for greater business diversification and to help steer new sources of customer delivery and revenues towards the traditional finance broking and referring sector. The genesis of Marketplace Finance is for a broker to be able to confidently offer commercial transactions without the view from the client that they’ve been referred to another company.
The fundamental idea is that the broker is able to connect their broker manager with their client as a team member of their business and know with a degree of confidence that the client will be looked after and that their other facilities aren’t at risk. Over time as the broker becomes more involved, the hope is that they will have the confidence to write some of the simpler transactions on their own. The team at Marketplace Finance are there to provide structuring and transaction advice as well as summaries and templates for wider use within the brokers business. It’s about elevating the industry as a whole – every broker should be able to source and write a basic level of commercial debt.
You seem to look outside traditional financial circles, like following the PM of Canada and Jessica Alba on LinkedIn. How do you find inspiration?
Whilst I try and not let social media take up too much of my day, platforms like LinkedIn allow you to follow and connect with some really inspirational people. I like seeing people who advocate for work-life balance and have a mission to make the world a better place, and I also thrive off people around me progressing both personally and in their careers. Seeing influential people promoting and campaigning for change really makes me appreciate that we all have a social responsibility.
You have experience working in a few different areas of finance. What drew you to specialise in brokerages and commercial investing?
Honestly it just happened that way. I had it in my mind that I wanted to be in investment management, but having spent 11 years in the banking industry I found my strength and passion is in being able to help clients achieve their goals. It provides me with a great deal of satisfaction knowing a client has achieved the right solution and is in a position where they can grow.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?
If I had to change anything, I would have gone out on my own earlier. But I’m pretty happy with the way things are going and I think everything happens for a reason and turns out the way it should.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
I have a property in the Hunter Valley which I try to get away to with my family whenever we can - I find it a relaxing escape from our busy lives down in Sydney and I find the time spent with my close friends and family is something I really value.