AFG training and events pivot during COVID-19

AFG Head office

As the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold, AFG’s Learning and Development (L&D) and Events programs switched direction to meet the vital learning and development requirements of the AFG broker network.

Supporting brokers with up to date information and ensuring they can maintain their professional development requirements in a virtual world – including attaining CPD points – has been vital, according to AFG Head of Sales and Distribution Chris Slater. “From the moment the crisis hit, we have made sure our focus was on supporting our brokers. They have been at the forefront of the massive financial impacts the pandemic has had, and their customers have needed support through this time.”

“Australia continues to perform an enviable job of flattening the curve, but it is impossible to say when things will return to normal, and indeed elements of what we have experienced since the lockdown commenced may even become our new normal.”

AFG has redesigned its L&D program with a focus on informative, timely and relevant content. “We are seeing exceptional numbers taking advantage of our program, with the strong uptake of our virtual sessions demonstrating how much our brokers appreciate this content during this uncertain period.”

“Since restrictions commenced, we have had more than 10,000 registrations for our myriad of webinars and virtual sessions. Whether it be keeping them up to date with the market, the lenders and what they are offering or support for the shifting circumstances of their customers, we are reacting in real-time to support our brokers and their clients,” said Chris.

Another big focus has been on increasing the volume of professional development courses available to brokers on AFG’s LEARN platform. “We now have 500 courses available to brokers. In April alone, AFG brokers have completed around 12,769 courses and achieved 7146 CPD hours.”

The volume of content posted to AFG’s online broker portal has also risen significantly, with rolling COVID-19 updates on Government, lender, health and wellbeing, industry and AFG policy changes and announcements.

“We quickly developed a dedicated wiki on our HELP portal to assist brokers in finding the right information at the right time. Brokers have moved rapidly to using this as a source of truth during COVID-19 with over 10,000 views in under two months,” he said.

AFG’s adapted L&D and event program includes an interactive Q&A COVID-19 focused weekly webinar, with full access every week to the AFG executive team, lender partners and industry experts, each delivering responsive content to the developing situation together with BAU content.

Recent guests have included:

  • Kate Carnell, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, speaking about the ways COVID circumstances have been impacting small business and the Government support available.
  • Real estate leaders John McGrath, Founder and Executive Director of McGrath Real Estate, John Percudani, CEO of Realmark and Andrew McCann, Managing Director of Jellis Craig on the impact of COVID on the Australian residential and commercial property market.
  • Michelle Maynard, Partner of Carbon, speaking about ATO concessions for business, stimulus package options for businesses, cashflow boost payments and details of the Government’s JobKeeper scheme.

“After many requests from non-AFG brokers and industry partners, we have also decided to open these webinars up to the entire industry. Any broker or industry professional can register via our social media pages or our website” said Chris.

“We are also working closely with our lender and industry partners to deliver tailored content via virtual sessions. These have included partner-hosted webinars in both the residential and commercial space, with tailored content focusing on COVID-19 updates and critical BAU information.”

The live webinars are recorded and posted to AFG’s Learning Management System platform for ongoing broker access on demand. In April alone, the team delivered 12 different webinars and virtual sessions with 5706 attendees.

“At a state level our Sales Managers and Partnership Managers are hosting interactive training sessions, forums and virtual coffee meeting programs with smaller groups of local brokers meeting online with their peers and hearing from lender and industry partners as guest presenters,” he said. “We have also redesigned our customary face-to-face lender accreditation sessions to become virtual sessions.”

AFG is currently finalising plans for a lender and industry partner professional development event which will be deployed as a virtual session in coming months.

“During times of extreme change, adjusting the way that we deliver learning and development to support our brokers is of paramount importance,” concluded Chris.

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The simple SEO steps to get you started

co-workers using computer

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about helping people find your site as easily as possible. Essentially, we are trying to do what we can to work with the Google algorithm. The algorithm is the way that Google programs their search functionality and it decides whether you appear on the first page or not. There are lots of easy ways to make sure that your website is as accessible as possible for Google and, just as importantly, for your customers and visitors!

Be real, natural, and write for people, not optimisation.

Google are smart. They have evolved their search algorithm (the machine that decides what results to show in a Google search) to punish businesses who try to ‘stuff’ their websites with too many keywords. Your SEO aim can be easily summarised in one sentence; write content for your audience, the way they speak, about what you are good at and what you know. Share what you do well and explain why you do so.

Your keywords.

Take a step back and look at your business and the way you plan to attract customers to decide which keywords you want to focus on. Think about what people would be typing into Google to find you. Try to think at a deeper level about what questions people would type here. What are the problems or frustrations that you would solve for them?

The technical bits: Page titles and headings, in-links, alt-tags, XML sitemaps and URL structure.

Don’t underestimate how effective it can be to use your target keywords in all elements of your page or article. Consistency is key and, if the keywords naturally belong there, your page will rank higher in a search.  These are all elements that you can do yourself when updating your website if you’re a bit tech-savvy. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, there are plenty of virtual assistants who do these things well!

Think about your domain name.

The best time to do this is before you buy it! It’s never too late to look at a new domain, though. The reasons you may want to do this include:

  1. If your domain is too similar to your competitors’
  2. If your domain is similar or the same as a very popular brand, movie, person or another topic that gets searched a lot
  3. If your domain makes you sound like you do something else (ie. using the word security when your business is not in that industry)
  4. If your domain is too long and hard to remember
  5. If you have changed your business name

It’s important to consider the SEO implications of changing your domain name. If you have a high level of trust and your Google results are very high, it may take a few months to get back to this position with a new domain.

Fresh content.

You should be updating your website regularly. Add new content to your newsfeed and update your product and services pages as your business evolves. Your website should give an accurate picture of the way your business changes and grows. If your focus changes, update your website. If you have a special offer on, update your website. When your staff change, update your website. If Google was looking at a history of website changes they should be able to see how your business has changed and grown. This honest reflection in your website will help your SEO a lot.

RBA cash rate remains unchanged at 0.25%

Reserve bank of australia sign

The cash rate decision for May has been announced by the RBA with the rate unchanged at 0.25%.

The Bank has previously signaled it considers the current rate to be the floor, with many analysts predicting it will remain at this level for some time as the economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.

If the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your financial situation, please get in touch so we can formulate a plan to manage your loan repayments during these unprecedented times.

Since the RBA announced a .25% emergency cut on 19th March reducing rates to their current level, many lenders have adjusted their own rates.

An AFG broker can help review your situation to ensure you have the right loan for your circumstances, by drawing on a wide panel of lenders offering loans with great features, low fees and competitive interest rates.

If you’d like to chat about the best way to manage your mortgage as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, please get in touch with an AFG broker.

AFG welcomes Granite Home Loans to panel

AFG Head office

Australian Finance Group is today announcing the addition of a new lender onto the AFG panel. Granite Home Loans will join the panel with a new Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) product, making AFG’s one of the broadest residential lender panels in the Australian mortgage market.

Head of Sales & Distribution, Chris Slater engaged Granite Home Loans after seeking the feedback of AFG’s brokers. “We invited a core group of brokers from across the country to join an information session with Bridget Sakr and Yianni Socratous from Granite to see if there was interest.”

“Our brokers were clear they wanted AFG to continue building the panel and provide more options, so we are very pleased to be adding Granite’s SMSF product to the platform,” said Chris.

“In addition, AFG has a relationship with Bridget that goes back a long way and it’s great to be working with her again.”

“We’re extremely excited to be bringing our first product to the AFG Panel. Being a full service lender, I co-founded Granite to develop innovative products and processes to meet the needs of today’s borrowers and brokers.” Bridget said.

“We pride ourselves on service, offering a commitment to AFG brokers of 48 hour first touch, including a full assessment and issuing a tailored indicative offer. We’re soon launching a new Equity Keeper refi product to our partners, and look forward to re-releasing our No LMI Professional product to AFG when the market returns to some normality. Thanks to the team at AFG for the seamless onboarding, and I’m excited to be working closely with Mark and Chris again, and appreciate their ongoing support.”

“Delivering competition to the lending market is vital and has been central to AFG’s strategy since inception more than 25 years ago,” said Chris. “The addition of Granite to the panel confirms AFG’s commitment to expand the options available to customers of AFG brokers in the SMSF space.”

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