A code of ethics

In June 2013, Mark Davis the founder and di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian Lend­ing & In­vest­ment Cen­tre (ALIC) had writ­ten a to­tal of $507 mil­lion in funds un­der man­age­ment. Mark puts his suc­cess down to client re­la­tion­ships and ded­i­ca­tion. He speaks with Busines

Business First - - PROFILE -

Af­ter 21 years work­ing in bank man­age­ment, you’d be for­given for be­ing in­sti­tu­tion­alised: for look­ing at a sec­tor a cer­tain way and re­main­ing with the sta­tus quo. When you are nom­i­nated as the premier na­tional mort­gage bro­ker for seven con­sec­u­tive years, it’s easy to re­main com­fort­able. How­ever, the best CEOs are those who seek change within them­selves and the in­dus­tries they as­so­ciate them­selves.

For Mark Davis awards were a nice endorsement of his com­mit­ment to cause.

“The rea­son be­hind my suc­cess was that I found a niche in the mar­ket. The bank al­lowed me to fill that niche and ed­u­cate my clients about fi­nan­cial plan­ning and prop­erty and ar­eas where there was al­ways a lack of knowl­edge and skills.

“It is also an in­dus­try I feel very strongly about. If you do what you love, you’ll au­to­mat­i­cally be great at what you do. I have a pas­sion for in­vest­ing, gear­ing and wealth cre­ation, mar­kets, prop­erty, plan­ning and tax. If you com­bine all of your pas­sions you should be suc­cess­ful.”

History has recorded Mark’s suc­cess with the ANZ and he is grate­ful to them for al­low­ing a lend­ing man­ager, some­one he says is akin to a car sales­man, to de­sign and de­velop the struc­ture of the lend­ing busi­ness. Yet the re­spect of the public for banks and the of­fi­cials within them has waned since he first joined the sec­tor in the 1980s, due in part to the banks’ treat­ment of cus­tomers and clients. Mark wanted to im­ple­ment a new way of think­ing to re­verse the neg­a­tive at­ti­tude to­wards lenders and to ser­vice his clients in a way that he felt ap­pro­pri­ate.

He had be­gun this process while with the bank. Mark set up an ad­vi­sory around per­form­ing in poor mar­kets. He wanted peo­ple to re­alise that the best times to in­vest are when mar­kets are lack­ing con­fi­dence. Fi­nally he wanted to bond with clients and de­velop close work­ing re­la­tion­ships that would see them re­fer busi­ness.

As the ba­sic at­ti­tude of the banks was un­likely to change, Mark left ANZ to form ALIC, which in a short pe­riod of time has be­come an award-win­ning fi­nan­cial bro­ker­age that as­sists clients in achiev­ing their in­vest­ment goals and build­ing per­sonal wealth through en­sur­ing the right lend­ing struc­ture is im­ple­mented.

ALIC is strat­egy fo­cused and adopts a holis­tic ap­proach when de­vel­op­ing loan struc­tures to en­sure the best fi­nan­cial re­sults.

Mark says that while most peo­ple are risk averse when deal­ing with fi­nance, par­tic­u­larly in lean times, ALIC clients are risk-tol­er­ant; they un­der­stand in­vest­ment and are seek­ing long-term wealth cre­ation in an hon­est and trans­par­ent en­vi­ron­ment.

The com­pany is made up of mar­ket spe­cial­ists in­clud­ing ac­coun­tants, tax ad­vi­sors, stock­bro­kers, buy­ers’ ad­vo­cates, fi­nan­cial plan­ners, quan­tity sur­vey­ors and le­gal spe­cial­ists. It has also main­tained tier one re­la­tion­ships with all the ma­jor banks and lead­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

ALIC’s a com­bi­na­tion of ex­per­tise and re­la­tion­ship-build­ing keeps clients com­ing back. “Cus­tomers come to us be­cause they un­der­stand that we have in­vest­ment knowl­edge. They un­der­stand that we setup loan struc­tures. They un­der­stand that we are suc­ceed­ing in get­ting clients to where their end goal is. And they un­der­stand that we prac­tice and live and breathe it.”

If clients have ques­tions about his own ex­per­tise, Mark is for­ward in his re­sponse.

“I am asked regularly, ‘Why should I lis­ten to you? What have you got? What’s your net­work? How many prop­er­ties do you own?’ I re­spect those ques­tions. I ask the same ques­tions if I go and see a spe­cial­ist. Peo­ple should ask the hard ques­tions.”

It is this trans­parency that saw ALIC named Aus­tralian New Bro­ker­age of the Year 2011 at the Aus­tralian Mort­gage Awards (AMA). Mark was also hon­oured with an Aus­tralian Bro­ker of the Year 2012 and West­pac Aus­tralian Bro­ker of the Year award.

“Peo­ple come to us be­cause they al­ready know the feed­back is ex­tremely strong. I want ev­ery client walk­ing through my door to be well down the path of what I do. I’m ac­tu­ally quite dis­ap­pointed if some­one comes in and they don’t know what I do.”

Mark didn’t head­hunt clients or chase ex­ist­ing ANZ cus­tomers. He let his clients know what he was do­ing and he waited. He is still yet to ap­proach for­mer ANZ clients. It is part of his eth­i­cal ap­proach to busi­ness.

“You do things eth­i­cally and cor­rectly and now we’ve got a re­ally strong re­la­tion­ship with ANZ.”

Mark does be­lieve he should have set up his own busi­ness seven years ago. He says, “There’s a lot of good op­er­a­tors in the in­dus­try that are just afraid and they sit un­der the bank sys­tem and don’t think they can do it them­selves. I was one of those. I was writ­ing $200 mil­lion a year for ANZ, and I thought ‘ANZ are pay­ing me enough, I’ll just stay there. But then

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