ONLINE BROKERING TO PAY OFF FOR RENEGADE START-UP
Written on the 21 June 2012
A NEW website promises to give financial advisors unprecedented internet and mobile interactivity.
Jaci Smith (pictured) is confident her new website My Local Broker will change what she calls a lack of online presence in the financial services sector.
The Renegade Finance Group (RFG) founder claims many brokers fail to keep up with technology changes.
“A recent survey by The Adviser magazine shows one in five brokers have no web presence whatsoever and only a minority are generating their own leads online,” she says.
“There are too many brokers who do not understand search engine optimisation and social media – and it is leaving them behind, waiting for the telephone to ring.”
My Local Broker went live last month and has received more than 400 registrations. Smith plans to incorporate Android and Apple iPhone applications with iPad compatibility.
She plans to go one step further by launching My Local Accountant in September, not long before the personal tax-return lodgement deadline of October 31. She will then activate My Local Financial Advisor in December.
“We provide an online platform for engagement as well as social media. I want it to become a premier site for people to access information on financial advice, purchasing property and finding a financial advisor,” says Smith.
“I use my relationships within global accounting organisation CPA and multinational group Mind Your Own Business, which has a large distribution channel, to attract more registrations. I also have contacts from my former business development work for Liberty Financial and contract work for Barnes Home Loans as well as Australian First Mortgage.”
Since RFG’s 2008 conception, Smith has privately funded $100,000 in research, contracts, marketing and financial services consultant expenses.
“I was raised in a family where if you could not afford it, we did not do it. I believe my four years’ research has identified a niche,” she says.
“A number of people have come forward with the intention of being investors or buying me out for an amount speculated to be in the millions. However, I will not sell.
“This is about Australians having a right to choose from a range of brokers, working with someone in their local area who understands housing prices, local demographics and social structure and who can be accessed more readily than outsourcing to a remote area.
“It is also about educating people about finance. The renegade in RFG reflects my looking out of the box and standing up for what I believe in.”
She plans to promote the websites through a combination of television, social media and other internet-based viral advertising.
“I want to build our five-staff operation into a business turning over $1.5 to $2 million by the end of the 2013 financial year,” she says.
Smith believes she can capitalise on changes to the financial services sector.
“This change is driven largely by generational evolution and an interest on the part of increasingly confident consumers to have a more direct personal involvement in the management of their financial affairs,” she says.
“The big four banks provide only information they deem as important – benefitting only themselves and their own products. Contrast this with a broker who provides lending options from a range of lenders.”