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
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