Protecting your business against cybercrime

Cyber Security image

Originally published on on April 7, 2020

As a mortgage broker, you know how to take simple precautions to protect your business against crime when you’re not in the office. All you have to do is make sure the windows are latched, the doors are locked, the alarm is on and the insurance is up to date.

But what about protecting your business against cybercrime now that most, if not all, of your sensitive information is stored online? Cybercrime is a growing threat in Australia, which costs our economy billions of dollars each year. And small businesses are being targeted by an increasing number of cybercrimes.

Even as we enter the COVID-19 crisis opportunities are still being found. The Australian Cyber Security Centre is continually updating its latest threat advice as it reports a significant increase in COVID-19 themed malicious cyber activity across Australia since early March 2020.  While we have taxi drivers moving into deliveries because there are far less passengers and Gin Distilleries producing hand sanitisers. Unfortunately, scammers are no different, they are also looking for opportunities.

What is Cybercrime 

At its most basic level, cybercrime involves stealing information and money via unauthorised access to computers and mobile devices, infecting computers with malware, online identity theft and fraud, online scams or cyber attacks on computer networks and websites.

Cybercrime isn’t just committed by bored teenage hackers or criminal gangs looking to make a quick buck. It can also be perpetrated by a number of sources such as former or current employees who accidentally or intentionally compromise online information.

Protecting your business against Cybercrime
If your business becomes a victim of cybercrime, the impact can be devastating and costly.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. And there are simple measures you can take to protect your business against cybercrime, such as making it a priority to:

  • Establish cyber security policies and procedures.
  • Introduce a cyber security incident response plan.
  • Train staff on your cyber security policies, procedures and incident response plan.
  • Turn on automatic updates for computer operating systems, software applications, malware protection and mobile devices.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
  • Restrict administration privileges for staff members.
    Revoke accounts as soon as staff members leave your business.
  • Manage passwords and ensure they’re not being shared or reused.
  • Change passwords to long, hard-to-crack passphrases.
  • Use a password manager program to create and securely store passphrases.
  • Turn on network encryption and encrypt hard drives and data stored or sent online.
  • Backup your business data regularly and keep a physical backup stored offsite.
  • Foster a culture that understands and values cyber security.

Over the coming months, I’ll provide more information about the ever-evolving cyber security threats in Australia, together with tips to safeguard your business, clients and staff.

Using AFG analytics expertise to help the bushfire victims

Fire tender

Originally published on on March 6, 2020

Like everyone in Australia, at AFG we were shocked and saddened by the devastating bushfires that burned across the country over the summer months. Whilst the fires are now finally out, there are many communities that face a long and challenging journey of rebuilding their homes and towns.

AFG continues to work on a number of initiatives to support our Brokers and Customers. This included the announcement in January of a $100,000 Bushfire Relief Fund consisting of $1000 fast response grants and a separate donation to the Mortgage and Finance Industry Bushfire Relief campaign supporting the Australian Red Cross. As an aggregator with a significant national footprint, we wanted to support our brokers, their customers and our AFG Home Loans customers who have been seriously injured or had property partially or completely destroyed by the recent bushfires.

To help target brokers and customers and encourage them to access the grant, we analysed where our brokers businesses are, their customers and the locations of our AFG Home Loans customers to understand who was in a bushfire impacted region. To achieve this, we sourced the real-time fire regions from the NSW, SA and VIC Regional Fire Services. We then had to geo-code our brokers and customers – something that we previously hadn’t had the need to do – and used the Geocoded National Address File (referred to as G-NAF, Australia’s authoritative, geocoded address file) to map addresses to a latitude/longitude coordinate. That allowed us to then accurately determine which brokers (including their customers) and AFG Home Loans customers were in directly impacted by the bushfires.

A sample of the output of the analysis is shown in the map of NSW below. At the time that the analysis was done (c. 14th January),  the yellow regions are where the fires were deemed as “under control” by the NSW Regional Fire Service. The circles show the number of brokers, brokers’ customers and AFG Home Loans customers that were impacted by the fires. The tool developed allowed our team to drill down into those areas and contact those affected.

Business SMART – it’s SMART business

The Australian broking landscape is changing. We’re seeing an unprecedented shift in AFG brokers broadening their capabilities to offer commercial finance.

With brokers having less than 10% of the market, it’s no surprise commercial finance provides the largest opportunity for business growth. It’s time to get cracking and make your mark in this space.

Commercial finance is no longer solely the domain of banks or specialist brokers, the AFG Business platform has handed the keys to AFG Brokers to get involved.? We’ve seen over 1300 brokers seize this opportunity by gaining their AFG Business Accreditation.

We’ve been crunching the numbers, and over 27% of AFG brokers’ clients are self-employed and may have a potential need for commercial finance. We’re here to help you start the conversation.

Introducing AFG Business SMART

AFG Business SMART is our new suite of campaigns designed to integrate perfectly into the current SMART program.

We’re leveraging the award-winning, industry-leading SMART marketing platform and gearing it to drive commercial finance leads and prospects.

What’s included in AFG Business SMART?

  • Commercial lending prospecting emails to help you lead generate and drive new enquiries.
  • A quarterly business insights campaign designed to talk to business owners about the lending solutions on offer, industry updates and statistics when it comes to the SME market and how they could take advantage of business opportunities ahead.
  • Business focused prospecting and welcome campaigns to drive new business and start the business conversation.
  • Thank you campaigns at settlement to help you close the loop.
  • Dynamic changes and variable wording on a number of your existing campaigns for residential customers to communicate your commercial finance capabilities.
  • Flags your clients can tick within campaigns to help identify potential business and self-employed customers who may not even be marked in FLEX as an SME – helping increase your prospect pool even further.
  • Perfectly timed and messaged retention campaigns, depending on which kind of commercial finance product your clients have taken up, designed to get them refinancing at the right time.
  • New AFG Business section for your SMART website promoting your commercial finance solutions on offer.
  • A host of social media assets, artwork and copy for you to use across Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
  • Web copy for use should you manage your own website.

How do I sign up?

If you are an existing SMART member with AFG Business accreditation, we have a really exciting offer for you.

AFG would like to offer you Business SMART at no additional cost until April 2020 so you can see first hand how it works and the benefits it can offer your business. From April 2020 there will be a small additional monthly fee but of course you are welcome to come off the Business SMART program at any time – although we’re pretty sure it will be one of the best investments you’ll make.

So, to take advantage of this offer please click here to sign up. We’ll be in contact from there to help get you all set up and answer any questions you may have.

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Meet Pipeline, your newest broker software

Pipeline is your new broker workflow management software we’ve been designed in collaboration with our brokers, for our brokers. Pipeline brings you the software you need to keep track of your prospects, manage your loan applications and pre-set your activity plans to enable outstanding customer service.

Opportunities start with Pipeline

The customer card view in Pipeline provides you with a single place to view and manage all current leads, tasks, loan applications and post-settlement activity plans.

Pipeline works intuitively with AFG brokers to track and manage activity throughout Pipeline with easy drag and drop mechanics.  In addition to new workflows, Pipeline now houses the tools that brokers need most, all under the one umbrella. AFG brokers now have streamlined access to view all their contacts, contact info, available products and the calculators they use most.

Watch our quick Pipeline video for a snapshot of what Pipeline has to offer.

Pipeline’s agile software rollout

We’re bringing Pipeline to brokers in an agile and responsive fashion. Today, we provide the immediate tools and critical functions our brokers have asked for. However, our enhancements and developments don’t stop there – going forward, we’re rolling out a range of new features and developments in consultation with our brokers to enable end-to-end management of the prospect to loan process.

AFG Mobile

The first addition to Pipeline will be the integration of Pipeline in the AFG Suite mobile app. So what does this mean for AFG brokers? It means the tools you need most, on the road with you, right in the palm of your hand.

Want to know more about Pipeline and AFG Suite? Find out more.

Introducing AFG Suite

2017 has been an impressive year for so many of our 2850 brokers around the country, and for the industry more broadly. With broker market share now widely reported at around 55% there are many reasons to celebrate and also many ways to capitalise to ensure our continued growth.

Looking forward to next year, we have a really exciting announcement to share with our brokers. Our teams have been building new technology from the ground up, creating a new suite of technology tools we will be launching early next year.

You can watch our quick video to give you an idea of some of the new features coming your way.

Needless to say, we’re making life a lot easier and a lot more intuitive for you next year, with some very clever technology to bring your key data under the one roof, allowing you to view and manage it like never before.

We’ll be sharing more about each new product as we are closer to rollout in the new year.

SMARTer integration and automation

Our SMART program is unique. You won’t find it anywhere else. We know because we built it. SMART is completely integrated into your lodgement engine — simply process your leads and applications then any aspects of the SMART program that you’ve chosen to utilise are automatically triggered.

That means your leads are reminded of the benefits of having you on their side, your customers are reminded to get in touch with you at crucial times in the life of their home loan, and you can easily see how your book compares to the combined $133B nationally or at a state level.

Not one of our 1,400 brokers already on SMART? Do you have your own marketing support services you are paying money for? How can SMART help?

Here is a sample of the services all included under the SMART umbrella:

  • Copywriting of marketing material.
  • Design and copywriting of social media materials — ready for you to post.
  • Writing, scheduling, triggering and sending emails to;
    • Welcome new entrants to your database.
    • Inform your database of RBA movements within minutes of each announcement.
    • Thank your customers at lodgement.
    • Thank your customers at settlement.
    • Many more automatically triggered email events.
  • Running a competition to increase the response rate of your settlement feedback.
  • Writing, designing and posting or emailing a lifestyle newsletter publication to your database.
  • Analysing data to find the catalysts for a discharge and triggering a communication at the right time with the right message to
    your customers.

The question we ask is, can you afford not to be on SMART?

For our brokers who use our SMART marketing program, the results speak for themselves. As the graph above illustrates, on average our brokers on SMART are now seeing well over double the cumulative portfolio growth of our brokers yet to join.

Our broker portfolio growth can stem from many things including that we think we recruit Australia’s best in the business and have an increasing market share of the country’s brokers. It could well also stem from the fact that the SMART campaigns, websites, analytics and materials work so well and help deliver this impressive growth differential. Regardless, there is no question SMART is helping the trend and we like to think we’re a key driver behind these great results our brokers are enjoying!

Broker Fact Find

Are you taking full advantage of Broker Fact Find to do the legwork to help you speed up a deal? Broker Fact Find is your online customer tool that lets your customer take care of the data entry basics at a time and place that suits them. It helps streamline the application and approval process — saving you time and money and helping fast track your client’s deal.

You know it all too well — collecting customer information can often slow down the loan process. It takes time for the customer to supply their details and then more time for you to enter it into FLEX.

At the press of a button in FLEX, your customer is emailed a secure link to the Broker Fact Find website that’s branded with your logo and details. The site intelligently asks the right questions and asks for additional information depending on your customer’s answers. When your customer has completed the questionnaire it’s automatically emailed back to you and FLEX is updated with their data which has populated through.

You can also enter in your customer’s details directly into the Broker Fact Find tool and push this information back into FLEX.

The Broker Fact Find process: Saving you time

  1. Broker generates a unique Broker Fact Find link from within an Opportunity in FLEX or the FLEX Mobile app. The minimum information required to be entered into FLEX prior to this is contact name, mobile and email address.
  2. Your customer completes their contact and financial information within a web portal branded with your broker information.
  3. That data is automatically added to the Opportunity and the Contact record where applicable, saving you time and ensuring the customer details are correct.
  4. Proceed with the deal in FLEX or simply leave the customer as a contact record to receive marketing materials from you via SMART if applicable.

Speak to your BDM or RM today if you’re not already taking full advantage of this clever tool.

Automating business growth

We like to think we’re breaking new ground in the mortgage broking space in a lot of what we do.

From our machine learning applications, our Business Intelligence tool, the new AFG Business platform on its way to help grow commercial volumes, the new broker websites with clever email capture functionality to our ongoing integration with business partners.

All the tech works for you, together as one

One of the industry-leading benefits of creating our own platform is the ability to build in integration where it can help you and your customers. Such as the ability to order Deppro reporting from within FLEX, or send a lead directly to TAL. Not only do these enhancements benefit your business, they also help you to provide a more holistic offer to your customer. This gives your customers the peace of mind that you can help them when they need you and builds a loyal tribe of customers who will come back to you again and again.

It’s not just about connecting customers with finance. Our business partners can help you to provide a complete service to your clients:

Allianz – general insurance

Simple, low-touch, direct-referral general insurance solutions for your customers that make it easy for your clients and easy for you. Help your clients protect their investments with building home and contents, landlord, and car insurance.

TAL – Insuranceline income and life insurance

The opportunity for you to offer income and life insurance protection products through InsuranceLine, a TAL direct life insurance brand.

DEPPRO – and your investor clients

DEPPRO offers comprehensive, easy-to-understand Tax Office compliant depreciation reports which can help your investment clients maximise their ROI as well as reward you at the same time with additional commission each time a customer takes advantage of one of these reports.

Equifax – integrated credit reporting

The new partnership with Equifax allows you to directly access a credit report for your client through FLEX. This fully integrated solution sees AFG brokers enjoy a reduced group rate for the reports with access at the push of a button. The reports will help you make better and faster decisions in terms of the right finance solutions which should lead to an improved application to settlement ratio as well as higher levels of client satisfaction. The AFG Privacy Consent form includes appropriate wording to enable you to obtain the necessary consent from your client before requesting a credit report.

AFG Suite – Analytics

Analytics?is AFG’s interactive reporting tool for our brokers on SMART where they can access data on deals lodged and settled, commission payments, portfolio growth, customer statistics, and key indicators which let you know about the health and growth of your business.

A reporting tool that’s just like having your own Business Analyst on staff.

Some of the features you can take advantage of in Analytics include:

  • Commission payments
  • Portfolio growth
  • Customer statistics
  • Access to AFG Mortgage Index reports
  • Reporting on lodgement pipeline
  • Month-to-date performance
  • Top lodging loan writers
  • Portfolio value detailed report
  • SMART send information
  • Marketability tab to segment your audience

Analytics extracts and analyses all of the data from your FLEX applications, contacts, and commissions on a daily basis, updating every evening so you have the latest data.

With clever reporting on your business patterns and customer statistics, you’re able to develop better forecasting to leverage positive trends and counteract any negative patterns before they impact your bottom line.

Learn has many training opportunities for you to learn about Business Intelligence and how to apply it to your business operations. Once you’ve integrated the instant data analysis that Analytics can provide into your business, you won’t know how you lived without it.

Your checklist

  • Are you reviewing your lodgement pipeline to enable better business forecasting?
  • Are you using the tool to better target your customers – going into the customer tab and looking at those with a low LVR to have focused conversations on their options from here?
  • Are you clicking on the commissions’ tab to review your upfront and trail to better identify any potential discharge trends to then apply to your wider retention initiatives?
  • Are you using it to identify which SMART campaigns you’re currently on and reviewing the feedback you’re receiving to ensure your customer service is as top notch as it can be?
  • Are you scrutinising the marketability of your contacts to see which email addresses you’re missing in FLEX and who you need to get in contact with?
  • Are you customising the right reports to best suit your business? This is one of the most powerful features of the tool that has the potential to lift efficiencies. If you need to know more on the most popular reports our brokers run and which could be of most value to you, talk to your BDM or RM today.

Custom digital solutions

Each and every one of the 2,850 brokers under the AFG umbrella is different. You have different business models, and we expect you will use the tools available to you in different ways. That’s why, more and more, we are building flexible features into our solutions, helping you use the tools that work for you, in the way that works best.

We have a vast range of custom built solutions for our brokers, one item we’ve been developing changes for is our SMART website. Not only do all the integrations you’ve come to expect from us, continue to be updated and move with the diversification of our industry, but we’re continuously developing new ways for our websites to work for you.

You already know about the FLEX integrations, sending enquiries straight to your database, the over 20 embedded calculators, the constantly updated content and of course the huge amount of content we include for your social media, digital business presence and other marketing materials.

What you may not already know about:

  • The extra colour choices we are providing to better match your branding with your website — taking the selection up to 20.
  • Your expanded news article sharing abilities — enabling you to share individual articles from our entire history of online Haven editions, one article at a time, giving you a large library of social content.
  • You can add in even more custom content to various pages in the website.
  • Plus, our favourite, five brand new informative guides with your branding and contact details for customers to download from your website. If you’ve heard of the term ‘lead-magnet’ before, you will know how juicy and valuable these can be to a business.

Is your website or social media letting you down? When was the last time you updated your website content or posted an article to Facebook, allowing followers to send an enquiry straight to you?

Your digital presence is often more important than your physical presence. You think long and hard about your choice of clothing and how your office looks, have a think about how many people have the potential to see your website. Leaving a website untouched and unloved, means you run the risk of lower results on search engines and less engagement from those who do visit your site. We help take a load off by doing the updates for you.

If you’re managing your own website, there are a host of things to consider. A few that should be high on your priority list include:

  • Think about your target market and the words they would type into Google to find you. These are the words you should be using on your website to optimise your appearance in search results.
  • Ensure you have the functionality to update your website often. A dynamic website is a great way to show Google that you are paying attention to your website and your customers. Adding a short blog or article once a month is a great way to do this.
  • Do not make any claims that you cannot prove. If you don’t have proof that your rates are the ‘cheapest’ or your service is the ‘best’ then you cannot say it.
  • Visit Learn?to download our advertising guide. These rules apply to the promotion of any product or service by your business. Your website is required to meet the same standards.
  • If you are an AFG Credit Representative, it’s important that your website and all the wording contained in it are approved by the AFG Compliance team. You can contact us at for more information.