Big groups missing out on big dollars

A CEO of a major mortgage broking firm has highlighted “significant untapped potential” at several real estate groups that are failing to embrace diversification.

Mortgage Choice CEO Michael Russell said some large national and state-based real estate agencies were not taking full advantage of their strong brands.

“Aside from competing better in the acquisition of listings and landlords, I feel a number of larger groups could be doing so much better if they embraced their diversification opportunities,” he said.

“By way of example, general insurance, landlord’s insurance, home loans and utility reconnections all quickly come to mind as logical diversification plays.”

These could be offered via in-house businesses or as white-label products, Mr Russell told Real Estate Business.

Mr Russell has led a successful diversification program since taking the top job at Mortgage Choice in 2009, while also delivering record profits in the last financial year.

His tenure has included the launch of a financial planning business and the acquisition of comparison website Help Me Choose.

Mr Russell said businesses across all industries can be reluctant to diversify because they become set in their ways and are unwilling to invest the necessary time and money.

“Every industry should be embracing change, because the way customers want to engage with businesses is changing,” he said.

“You have the digital evolution and the one-stop shop concept, and customers are looking for far more convenience now.”

Mr Russell announced his resignation from Mortgage Choice in November, although he will remain in his role until the end of this financial year.

He told Real Estate Business that he was keen to take on another chief executive role in a real estate, financial services or franchising group.

“I enjoy working with member-based organisations and can easily identify a number of large real estate groups that have significant untapped potential,” he said.

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