How Damien Roylance grew Entourage Finance by creating a culture that retains both staff and clients

Discover what inspired Damien to start his own brokerage, how he scaled it to optimise the retention of both talent and clients, and the technology his team uses for better relationships with borrowers.

The evolution of Entourage Finance

Damien started out in the industry at 23, spending nearly five years at Hawthorn-based Property Planning Australia before moving to London. On his return to Australia, Damien had to choose between returning to his former employer or starting a business with his former coworker.

After two years in London, Damien had three mortgages, had spent all his money and was about to get married, but he was ready to back himself. His business partner promised no salary for the first six months of the startup, so Damien moved in with his parents in preparation for the journey.

“I knew I’d done it well in the past,” Damien says. “A lot of people like cushy jobs and having a regular salary. My mentality is I’ll make it work rather than fail.”

After opening in 2015, Entourage’s turning point came two years later. “I think Hume and I did $113 or 117 million that year,” he says. “We went on a bit of a hiring spree in 2017 – three of the original five brokers are still with us today.”

In less than seven years since opening its doors, the brokerage has expanded to offer financial, property, legal and wealth services, adopting technology to streamline its processes wherever possible.

Creating a culture of teamwork to drive volumes and retain clients

Damien has excelled at building the Entourage team and workplace culture, which he knows is crucial to growing a brokerage. His experienced team is now welcoming brokers in the infancy of their careers.

Finding the right people to join a team can be challenging in today’s market, and Damien has made it his mission to make sure incoming brokers fit with Entourage’s corporate culture. At Entourage, everyone is a direct employee. Damien attributes this structure to getting brokers working as a team and being invested in each other’s deals.

For Damien, building a business is all about people – and once you’ve got them, you have to look after them.

“The banks are paying big dollars for everyone, so it feels like you’re walking on eggshells with your staff, even though you pay them they’ve got the power over you a little bit at the moment,” Damien says.

“You read the startup books and Richard Branson says, ‘Your client is not the most important, your staff are’,” says Damien.

“Just look after the staff, show them a bit of a fun time, but also back it up with the awards that we win, and the hard work we do.”

The business model that keeps high performers invested in long-term retention

Highlighting the importance of his team’s work is only part of how Damien retains high performers. “I let people buy into the business as well over time, like a real estate model,” he explains.

In Damien’s own experience, it’s only natural for people excelling to wonder if they can open their own business.

“You’d rather have the people stay together, lose a few per cent [of equity] here and there, and it’ll make you more money in the long run anyway,” he says.

After two years at Entourage, one of the brokers that acquired equity is now starting his own sub-branch on the Mornington Peninsula.

“We’re very flexible,” Damien says. “We’re not like a big bank, we can do what we want. If people or staff want to do their own thing, we try to support them as much as we can.”

Damien drives broker engagement through internal competitions and lead-sharing for long-term client retention.

“Once you’ve been doing it for so long, clients come back, as long as you always look after them,” Damien says. “We touch them very regularly, post settlement; post settlement’s the key.”

Damien uses nurture campaigns and reprices his clients’ loans regularly. “When it comes time for them to buy again, they just come back to us,” Damien says.

As technology evolves, clients will be more discerning about who they work with

As lending becomes even simpler with the progressions of open banking, Damien believes customers will be more selective when choosing their broker. To prepare for this shift, Entourage has optimised its digital presence to be more attractive to potential customers.

“If it ever does get to such an easy thing on tech, and you can just do a loan instantly, they might just pick the brand based on how they are perceived,” Damien says.

“That’s why Google’s important for us.”

“We spend a lot of money on marketing,” he continues.

“We provide the leads for the brokers, but also encourage them to get their own referral sources, relationships, and go out for lunch with different real estate agents or accountants.

“Ideally, I think over time, what I really want to do is open banking,” he says.

“When we talk about the existing clients, live data feeds into our system of live balances and interest rates.”

One day, Damien hopes to be able to sort a list of 10,000 clients to look at their balances and see who has equity to invest.

“You might just give them a call to talk about investing,” he says. “I just want to have the existing client data that I can view in an easy format.”

The tech tools Damien is leveraging for retention

Currently, the Entourage team uses Stay in Touch by Loan Market to provide their clients with expiries for fixed rates and interest-only loans, and then reprices their loans proactively.

“They get that email from Stay in Touch at the three month mark and so many people reply to that,” Damien says.

“We’ve got thousands of clients, and a lot of people have got fixed rates, which are going to be a bit scary in the next 12 months.”

Prior to using myCRM, Damien would call customers to discuss their rates.

“It’s a really hard thing to manage that trail book and the existing clients but we do it through more automation and tech,” he explains.

“We put it back onto them to call us when they need something.”

Having just come from a meeting with Salesforce, Damien is keen to see what they can provide to service his expanded offering in legal, property and wealth.

“It’s amazing what it could do,” he says. “It’s a beast of a thing, so we’ll get into that.”

Technology has been a saviour with the volumes Damien’s team has reached in the past two years.

“Your trail book is the best asset any broker’s got in their business, and if you’re losing clients out the back, you’ll never grow your trail,” he says.

“Managing the existing clients book is the hardest thing, but it’s also the most important thing.”

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