Graeme Holm FBAA Broker of the Year
New Radical MEET LAURA SCARLETT MARTIN, THE INNOVATIVE BROKER AND THOUGHT LEADER AT THE HELM OF CANADA’S #1 FIRM MATRIX MORTGAGE GLOBAL.
BROKER SETTLES $100M IN A MONTH
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FBAA 2021 broker of the year
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FBAA Chairman Tony Carter
INDUSTRY UPDATE By Peter White AM
broker settles $100M+ in a month We talk to Christian Stevens about his recent success
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Financial influencer and Canadian mortgage broker Laura Scarlett Martin.
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FROM T 2022 has been a hectic year for FBAA brokers under a speeding and improving economy, leading to consumers and businesses needing new and/or modified funding. FBAA has been equally busy, gathering data and reports on broker activity, income, and expense structures. This information was vital to the argument around remuneration review FBAA had with government ministers and opposition shadow ministers. Only in the weeks leading up to the Federal Election were we able to achieve solid commitment by the government and promise from the opposition that there would not be a further review into broker remuneration, and that clawbacks will be reviewed with consideration being given to a more equitable and fair system. Now that the Federal Election is run and won, FBAA must remain focused on this important argument with the incoming government ministers. In addition, we will be taking up the issue of bank retention teams and their aggressive methods to retain clients away from the broker channel, especially where a broker
THE CHAIR has initially provided the bank with the first opportunity to retain an existing customer. FBAA is currently gathering as much detailed data on this subject as possible to ensure our discussions are heard and a level of fairness returns to the marketplace. If you can provide specific unfair retention practice examples, please spend a little time writing the facts whilst redacting client-specific data and send it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. The much-delayed 2020–21 FBAA National Conference ran in March 2022. Delayed by Covid-19 this event was possibly the first face-to-face conference held in Australia since the many lockdowns and lockouts occurred. The greatest excitement was to see our many sponsors and brokers gathering and spending quality networking time together. The feedback was tremendously positive in the main and any negative comments were well put critiques we can use to build an even better National Conference in the future.
as well as helping with our face-to-face Coffee Catch Up sessions and PD Days. The Board of FBAA has also been working hard during this time in support of the FBAA management team who, during the whole Covid-19 times, have been marvellous. Thank you to my fellow directors and the FBAA team. It is a pleasure to be involved. The 2021–22 year is drawing rapidly to a close, and, not wanting to steal any of Peter White’s thunder, I want to simply thank the many, many new members as well as all existing members who have remained active participating members of FBAA. Watch out for upcoming announcements by Peter in relation to our members.
Tony Carter Chairman FBAA Board of Directors
I want to again thank our State Councillors and State Presidents. These people are our volunteers who give freely of their time so all FBAA brokers can have localised structure and assistance
Industry Update Broker Clawbacks on the agenda With a federal election freshly behind us and a new government at the helm, Peter White AM is preparing to sit down with Labor and discuss broker clawbacks. This conversation was promised before the election, and marks a significant moment for the industry.
Broker Clawbacks on the agenda CONVERSATIONS AROUND BROKER CLAWBACKS
In May, I announced that Labor, should they win the election, had agreed to sit down with me and our industry, to discuss reducing the current arrangements with brokers’ clawbacks from two years to one year. This agreement, made between myself and the Hon. Stephen Jones, was an historic commitment, the first for any politician. Now that Labor has won the election, I look forward to scheduling this conversation with Mr Jones, the new Minister for Financial Services, and placing a review of broker clawbacks on the agenda. These unfair clawbacks came in nearly 20 years ago, and have been a controversial topic in the broking community ever since. The FBAA has led the fight against clawbacks, and will continue to progress the debate. Brokers need to be fairly and appropriately remunerated. I will continue to pursue conversation with the Liberal Party to ensure there is movement on broker clawbacks..
INTEREST RATE HIKE REMAINS HOT TOPIC
Last year, the FBAA anticipated an interest rate hike in 2022. We conducted research to determine how this would impact Australian loan customers, to best ready our industry and members, and we released a warning via media early this year. When the Reserve Bank of Australia announced in May that they would increase the cash rate for the first time in almost 12 years, the media went into a spin. I spent the first half of May in countless TV, radio and press interviews advising people on how to deal with this hike, with some 300 media pieces undertaken and 76.8 million people reached. Our research last year revealed that some 57% of people believed a $300 increase per month would send them into financial hardship. This is based on a roughly 1% interest rate rise on an average $571,000 mortgage on a national weighted basis. The findings also revealed 75% of people would seek refinancing should rates rise.
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With more hikes expected in the coming 12–18 months – possibly up to 2.5% points by the end of 2022 or early 2023, as suggested by the governor of the RBA – the increase in repayments for mortgage customers is expected to surpass 1% or $300 per month. Home loan rates are expected to sit somewhere between 4.5–6% as we enter 2023. There will be a lot of people needing the assistance of skilled professional brokers – you. There’s no doubt in my mind the year ahead will be busy for our members and industry. With it being more than 11 years since the last hike, there are many loan customers who have never experienced an interest rate rise. Likewise, brokers who joined the industry within the last 11 years would have never worked through an interest rate rise either. This is new territory for many. We are closely watching what is happening in foreign markets. Our Reserve Bank cash rate is now 0.35%, the USA’s is already at 1%, the UK’s is at 0.75%, and in Europe the bond market is closed. Cost of funds is going up everywhere around us. We aren’t Moses, we can’t hold the waters back – it’s coming. The FBAA has posted a Q&A with Whitey webinar to educate brokers about what this interest rate hike means, and how to proactively support your customers through the next 12– 18 months. I suggest you view this webinar (available to view on the FBAA’s YouTube channel), and reach out to your customers sooner rather than later.
This year started with a significant amount of regulatory reviews being undertaken. We continue working through these. There is a new piece of regulatory engagement that is a concern for our industry. Started through the Australian Law Reform Commission, it looks at all pieces of legislation in all of the financial services with a consideration to be regulated under one area in the Corporations Act rather than being fragmented through all different areas of legislation. We do not want our industry captured in the same bucket as
financial planners, who are paid no commission. This is a two-year, possibly longer, consultation and I will work to ensure the broker position is voiced and protected. Another body of work that remains high on our radar is around challenging where the best interest duty (BID) has landed with funded products containing credit cards. Credit cards should not be subject to BID when bundled with a home loan, only the home loan or the largest debt piece in the bundle should be subjected to BID. I will continue arguing this point.
NATIONAL INDUSTRY CONFERENCE 2022
The FBAA National Industry Conference will return in November 2022, as we revert to our normal annual cycle for this event. With interest rates, regulation and more likely to remain hot topics, there will be much to discuss. Stay tuned for updates on speakers and theming for the gala evening. After many delays due to COVID, we finally held 2021’s National Industry Conference in
March. To my knowledge, this conference was the first and largest of its kind for 2022 in Australia. We welcomed 747 attendees, and the general atmosphere was one of joy to be back networking together. I look forward to welcoming even more of you at the conference in November.
The FBAA’s member assistance program, Assure, continues to be available to members. As a member, you are entitled to: four employee assistance program sessions (counselling), one financial coaching session and one legal coaching session. The program is entirely confidential. Book an appointment by calling 1800 808 374 or request an appointment online at https://assureprograms.com.au/book-anappointment/. Online bookings will require you to complete a form, and a Client Support member will then contact you during business hours to finalise and confirm your booking.
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BROKER SETTLES $100M+ IN A MONTH
Closing the financial year with three stellar months of settlements, Christian Stevens has achieved and exceeded his personal goal of settling $100 million in loans within one month. For Sydney-based broker Christian Stevens of Shore Financial, settling $100 million within a calendar month had been a personal goal since he joined the industry back in 2015. “To be in the top 1% in our industry, you need to settle more than $100 million annually,” says Christian. “I had the goal of settling more than $100 million in a single month – something I was told many times was impossible.” In May 2022, Christian achieved his goal, settling more than $124 million. This is off the back of his April result of $52 million. Rounding out the financial year, Christian has settled $230 million in the last quarter to mark his biggest financial year to date. To reach these results, Christian enlisted two key tactics. First, he built out his back-office team to streamline his process. “At the start, like any new-to-industry broker, I did everything myself,” says Christian. “Data entry, credit analysis, loan processing, marketing, and sales. I realised very early on that I needed to focus on what I am best suited to, which are the business generating activities rather than loan processing. This early outsourcing model has allowed me to double my settlement volume every year.”
“To receive the Industry Thought Leader of the Year award shows that my intentions translate – that people hear and understand what it is I am standing up for and why.” – Peter White AM
Today, Christian has a team of 10, including an operations manager, a six-strong credit analyst team and a broker support team of three. “I am also mentoring five junior brokers at the moment, to develop them into the best brokers in the industry.” Christian’s front-end team of credit analysists (parabrokers) focus on the initial query, including completing the detailed proposal with funding position and product comparison reports for the clients within 48 hours. Once the lender has been decided, the master notes are completed and passed across to the back-end broker support team, who produce the compliance documents and lodge the application within 24 hours. “They take care of everything up till settlement,” says Christian. “There is also a post-settlement officer who regularly follows up with each client to ensure there are no issues and the new accounts are set up as required. Everyone’s role is very welldefined, and this allows them to really own their part of the process. My team are all experts of their piece within my puzzle.”
Christian routinely works long hours, around 70 hours per week he estimates. He also runs a popular Facebook group for first home buyers. “Like many new brokers, I underestimated how hard it would be to get my business up and running and decided to leverage social media to build a name for myself in a saturated market. I felt that I could build the largest following and most recognised personal brand in the industry in around five years. I was able to do this in four.” Christian’s settlement results are impressive for a broker who joined the industry only seven years ago, recruited at a barbeque after a casual conversation with Shore Financial CEO Theo Chambers. “Theo and I had known each other for many years through friends but had never had a lot to do with each other directly. I had just finished up at my previous employment and was unsure as to what my next move would be – after working is hospitality for a decade,” tells Christian. “Theo happened to be in the right place at the right time and gave me a chance.
“ To be in the top 1% in our industry, you need to settle more than $100 million.” a.” Christian’s second tactic was to expand into commercial lending. “Many of the sophisticated investors, developers and family offices I look after started asking about commercial finance and I saw this as a huge missed opportunity not to broaden my skill set. “We analysed the market and understood what a successful service delivery would look like. We designed the offering end-to-end and then launched it with existing clients who had an interest in this area. It has progressively grown from there.” Today, around 35% of Christian’s total settlement volume is commercial, with this figure increasing year-on-year as more clients look to expand their portfolios. 16
“To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about the mortgage broking industry when I started but I have always had a love for property. Accepting his job offer turned out to be the best business decision of my life.” With his $100-million-settled-in-one-month target achieved, Christian’s next goal is to be the first billion-dollar broker in Australia.
Christian’s advice to brokers who want to accelerate their business: are not going to get ahead working 9-5. 1. You The brokers that put in the hours are the ones who end up on top. your loan processing ASAP. For 2. Outsource any established broker, you should also be looking to build a credit analyst team too. Join the Finance and Coffee Facebook 3. Group. This is an incredible source of information and you can leverage off other brokers’ knowledge in your early years. Get a good mentor and learn the ropes at 4. one of the best brokerages in Australia. It is simple, if you want to be the best, train with the best. the FBAA – they are here to support 5. Join brokers and the industry as a whole.
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“All of a sudden more people are free to choose to live where they want, instead of just somewhere close to the office.” – SIMON KUESTENMACHER 22
“We were always connectors, looking to collaborate with other brokers, not compete.” – LAURA SCARLETT MARTIN
Bernard Salt and Simon Kuestenmacher are no doubt familiar names. Each writes his own regular columns for The Australian newspaper and other media, both deliver compelling talks insights and forecasts to industry groups, organisations and all levels of government, and areBold quite probably most reported and vibrant,Australia’s not only in appearance demographers. force of nature. Seven years but in her ideas and how she articulates
Laura Scarlett Martin is a them, once you meet Laura Scarlett Martin ago, she stepped into the COO roleyou atmay Canadian firm Bernard, recall, is the ‘smashed avo she is imprinted on your memory. In fact, In 2016 he wrote a 600-word column Matrix Mortgage Global and guy’. set the business on a new many of you will remember Laura as the about $22speaker avocado and National housing keynote fromtoast the FBAA’s trajectory with prodigious results. A risk taker and affordability – and sparked global attention. Industry Conference held in March this year, Today, smashed avo remains a recurring trope change maker, she’s a mortgage broker with a degree where she spoke about radical authenticity, forhow housing affordability. to be seen, heard and fulfilled in your in psychology and cognitive science, a thought leader broking career. Or, perhaps you met her at In the 2021, housing hasattended reached and visionary who believes purpose and affordability radical 2019 conference, which she crisis point, increasing more than 20% that alongside her Matrix Mortgage Global in team. authenticity are the real secrets to success. 12 months. The Big Four banks predict a further Maybe you are connected on Linkedin, or increase 5-8% in 2022, then a minor listen of tobetween the Brokers Playbook podcast correction for a few per cent in 2023. which she co-hosts.
“I do think people feel they get their fair share when investing in housing,” says Simon. “There are so many people who make more money living in their house than going to work. Broker Magazine
“It’s unre marketing, e excel a stressed o
Bold and vibrant, not only in her style but in her ideas and how she articulates them, once you meet Laura Scarlett Martin she is imprinted on your memory. In fact, many of you will remember Laura as the keynote speaker from the FBAA’s National Industry Conference held in March this year, where she spoke about radical authenticity, how to be seen, heard and fulfilled in your broking career. Or, perhaps you met her at the 2019 conference, which she attended alongside her Matrix Mortgage Global team. Maybe you are connected on Linkedin, or listen to the Broker’s Playbook podcast which she co-hosts. Since 2016, Laura has established a reputation as a global finance influencer, openly sharing knowledge and insights and demanding equality in the industry. As COO at Matrix Mortgage Global, Laura has proved her words. Under her direction, the Canadian firm has achieved 550% year-on-year revenue growth the past year and today employs 110 mortgage agents. What can Australian brokers learn from Laura’s experience? We caught up with Laura back in March, ahead of her presentation at the FBAA National Industry Conference, to discover how she got to where she is today.
Growing up in Toronto, Canada, the youngest of three kids to a real estate power couple, Laura had unconsciously assimilated real estate knowledge her entire childhood – even possessing the ability to guess a property’s value from a young age. Curious and intelligent, but not particularly interested in school, it was a logical move for Laura to start her career in a real estate office in 2007. Her stint as office manager didn’t last long though, after Matrix Mortgage Global CEO Shawn Allen suggested she get her mortgage licence. “I thought, ‘why am I making twenty bucks an hour? I want to make six figures!” recalls Laura. Armed with natural leadership ability and the desire to constantly improve, Laura shot up the ranks quickly. She began training agents and leading training sessions. In 2010, after three years as a broker, she opened her own office on the 40th floor of a skyscraper in the epicentre of Toronto. By the numbers, her business was highly successful, but Laura says she hit a wall after just a few years. “It was a Friday night, I was sitting in my office, by myself. I had no peers, no mentors, no nothing. I was losing sleep, I was stressed-out, and I really felt my
easonable to expect someone to excel at sales, excel at excel at underwriting, excel at understanding products, at emotional intelligence and handling people who are out and everything else that goes along with mortgage broking.” – LAURA SCARLETT MARTIN
career was becoming meaningless. I was just not that engaged with it anymore. I had this unshakable, cognitive dissonance with it. I asked myself, ‘what am I doing here? Am I just selling money? I don’t feel fulfilled in this work anymore.’” Laura stepped away from her career and enrolled at University of Toronto. “I chose to study psychology and cognitive science because that’s literally the study of consciousness and the mind.” As a teenager, Laura had suffered from depression and self-destructive behaviours. Doctors had attempted to treat her depression not with talk therapy or interventions, but with medication. When the medication didn’t work the doctors would adjust pills or dosage, until Laura made a second suicide attempt. “While in the ICU, I received a letter from the company that made the pills, directing all patients under 18 years old be taken off the medication – because it was found to increase suicidal thoughts,” shares Laura. She ceased taking the medication, and spent years ignoring the mental health struggles she had endured as a teenager, but they were ever-present, sitting just below the surface, not fully healed. The most transformative course of my study was positive psychology, which is basically the study of people that are savant and examples of excellence, people that have overcome great challenges and created a growth mindset to succeed. I read about people that had gone through trauma, for instance, Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. He’s a Holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist who developed logotherapy, which is the psychology of finding meaning and how you can create meaning through struggle. It acknowledges that challenges and struggles are absolutely unavoidable and we really must come to terms with that and see them as opportunities for growth,” explains Laura.
“It was through reading about these people and healing myself that I thought, ‘okay, I’ve got this. Now I understand how to be resilient, how to talk myself through challenges, how to approach life.’ The question for me then became, ‘how do I marry this knowledge with business, with the only kind of business that I’m trained in, which is the mortgage business?’ Because after four years of study, I had to get back to work.” While studying business psychology at the University of Liverpool, Laura reapproached Shawn Allen at Matrix. “I said, ‘Shawn, are you ready to light this thing on fire? I want to create systems and processes and infrastructure and training systems and build a national brand and a team. Can you give me the reins? Can you let me do that with you? He said, yes.” Laura wrote her own job description, under the title COO, and hit the ground running alongside Shawn as CEO. “Being visionaries, we always have new ideas, so we knew that we needed people that were more grounded and based on the reality and the logistics and the management,” says Laura, “which is where Carla Allen comes in. That’s Shawn’s wife and the Managing Director of Matrix. She’s really the person that keeps us grounded, the string to our balloon.” Together, the team has achieved exceptional success and along the way Laura has openly shared her secrets.
“There’s no stereotype of what a broker looks like....”
Niche Laura’s first action was to niche and rebrand. She shortened the website to mmgb.ca, overhauled all marketing materials to ensure clear, cut-through messaging, and focused the business on one thing – private lending. “Instead of trying to be everything, we just tried do one thing really well. We knew private lending was going to be our great strength because during the great financial crash of 2008, we saw all of our lenders dry up. If we don’t actually have control over the money, we can’t control anything. So, we were able to forge relationships with private lenders. And now we have our own private funds, so we are the lender.”
Value Proposition Next, Laura sought to position Matrix as a market leader in the customers’ eyes. “Matrix kept getting nominated for awards, but never won. They were nominated for Best Private Lending Brokerage for something like four or five, maybe six, years in a row, never winning. When I got my hands on the award submissions, suddenly win, win, win, win. We’ve now spent five years on the Top Broker list, and expect to win our fifth consecutive Private Lending Brokerages of the Year Award. “So many people that are good at sales or are great analytically or strong with numbers are not great with written words. I was able to take my work ethic, my industry knowledge, my ability to grind and ability to put together a persuasive argument and apply that to getting that award recognition. So now in the eyes of the market, in the eyes of the consumer, we were the best. As soon as we got these award wins, we had credibility. We could add that to our value proposition – See, we really are the number one private lending brokerage. We really are the top brokerage in Canada.”
“We knew private lending was going to be our great strength because during the great financial crash of 2008, we saw all of our lenders dry up.”
Streamline While Matrix was generating leads at significant cost, Laura discovered these weren’t always being followed through. She implemented new processes and strict instruction to ensure leads were followed up and entered into a database. As with any change, there was pushback. “So, we cut up the process and hired new people that weren’t just mortgage agents,” says Laura. “It's unreasonable to expect someone to excel at sales, excel at marketing, excel at underwriting, excel at understanding products, excel at emotional intelligence and handling people who are stressed out and everything else that goes along with mortgage broking. “Step 1 was getting the data and calling the lead in a timely manner. Step 2 was getting the customer mortgage application details and talking over what they’re qualified for and creating the relationship, like an account manager. Step 3 was building out our underwriting department. So, we separated the customer service aspect, the sales aspect and the technical aspect. “We kept building these layers, and we got better and better. In 2017 we went national. In 2018, Matrix’s tenth year in business, we created a private fund capital. Our last year we had 550% year-over-year revenue increase. We underwrote 654 deals last year, and now have 110 mortgage agents throughout Canada.” Story continues page 26.
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Online, Laura has been building both hers and Shawn’s social networks since 2016 when she stepped into her new function at Matrix. “Every day I added people in the real estate and mortgage space. Today I have about 30,000 followers. I also focused on thought leadership, so I would post weekly, about things like, ‘how do you work with rate shoppers?’ Or ‘tips for productivity’. I’d get a little bit of traction and I would use it to build referral networks and relationships with other brokers. We were always connectors, looking to collaborate not compete. I looked at other brokers as potential partners.”
Authenticity “To build a personal brand you have to be real. Often, what we do is we trade being real for being liked. People really connect with, want to be with and want to work with real people so you can’t make this trade off. Customers can absolutely sense when you’re being inauthentic. If you honour being real, you will find you work with people you connect with authentically, who give you more referrals, who are less of a challenge and a drain to work with. That leaves you with more energy, more focus and more of everything else follows.” Laura encourages all brokers to cultivate selfawareness. “Look at your life story, your challenges, and how you can turn those challenges into opportunities for advocacy, for raising awareness or for creating a passion project — and create real impact through those.”
Connection For Laura, creating meaning within mortgage broking has given her work purpose and fulfillment. “Most people are just focused on the next client, on the next deal. We have this corporate culture at Matrix that is so collaborative and supportive, it’s taken the ego and competition out of sales. We have a chat group with all 110 Matrix agents, where they can ask each other questions. We’ve created a system that everyone flourishes within.” Outside the office walls, Matrix has created a notfor-profit called Matrix Cares, and runs initiatives for financial literacy. Broker Magazine
Her social following exploded when Laura posted a piece speaking out against the way women were being treated at industry events and the inequality in leadership opportunities. In her own experience, she’d been grabbed at, leered at and had people be inappropriate towards her at events. “I thought, I’m the COO of a top brokerage in Canada, how is this still happening?” shares Laura. “The post went viral, got more than 200,000 views and hundreds of comments from women and men.” With Laura in the COO seat and Carla Allen as Managing Director, Matrix has 60% women in leadership — the most women in leadership out of any brokerage in Canada. It is also “quite by accident,” the most diverse brokerage in Canada. “Shawn is Guayanese, Carla is Jamaican, I’m mixed Irish-German and Jamaican on my mother’s side. We’re all culturally Canadian, we’re all born in Canada, but our office is diverse — there’s no stereotype of what a broker looks like. A leader can be someone with hair extensions and black skin.” A common thread in Laura’s leadership style has been her transparency. She talks openly about sexism, about being vulnerable, about mental health and her history, about having ADHD and how she handles it. “My goal is to just normalise these conversations.” Using positive psychology and her natural leadership ability, Laura is a true force of nature. COO at 24, carving out a mortgage business brimming with purpose and authenticity, leading with clarity and vision, Laura has created the very meaning that was lacking from her early career. “I took responsibility for my own self-actualisation and for creating my own vision,” reflects Laura. “I boldly asked for it and I got it.”
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Tame Your Inbox Do you control your email or does your email control you? Email overwhelm affects more of us than you might think.
Broker Magazine Broker Magazine
If you are someone who has fewer than 10 unread emails in your inbox at any one time, congratulations, you are achieving great things and nothing in this article will be of interest to you. Please, turn the page and we wish you well. For the rest of you, who experience email as a major disruptor for productivity, please, read on. In today’s world, it is normal for people to receive hundreds of email each week, sometimes each day. Checking emails is, for many professionals, the first thing we do in the morning and the last thing we do at night. It’s also a constant ‘ding’ during the day. What’s the trick to keeping your inbox in check? Treat it as a place to process messages, not store them. How do you do that? Read on for a few tips and tricks. One approach to taming the email beast is to do the four Ds – do, defer, delegate, delete. Do – The idea is that when you receive an email and can complete the task or write a response within a minute or two, just do it. Defer – If it requires a longer completion time, defer. Use flags, folders or other email markers to highlight the email as ‘to action’. Delegate – Forward any emails that need to be actioned by others immediately. Delete – If an email is of no use to you, such as spam,
email marketing, newsletters you know deep down you will never read, or emails you’ve been copied in on that you really didn’t need to be, delete it.
“Treat your inbox as a place to process messages, not store them.” By creating folders for ‘action’ and ‘reference’ as well as implementing the four Ds, you should be able to process every email out of your inbox as soon as you read it. You may choose to also collate project folders or team folders, if that helps you sort and process. Turning off notifications can also be helpful. This will allow you to work on a task, undisturbed by the ‘ding’ of an incoming email, for a period of time. Then, only check and process your emails in between tasks. The most effective approach to reduce the number of unread emails overwhelming your inbox though, is to unsubscribe from any email marketing you don’t regularly engage with. Be ruthless.
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BROKER IN BUSINESS
More than holm loans Taking a holistic approach to mortgage broking and educating clients, Graeme Holm’s business Infinity Group is about more than selling home loans. As the business goes from strength to strength, claiming the title of FBAA’s 2021 Broker of the Year is the latest feather in Graeme’s cap. For broker and business owner Graeme Holm, a selfdescribed housing commission kid from Wollongong, financial literacy is the cornerstone of his business. Graeme has built a successful brokerage along the east coast of Australia, which aims not just to sell home loans but to build wealth through optimising mortgage payments and improving financial literacy. Graeme started in banking at the age of 18, spending 10 years in various customer service, sales, lending and management roles. Craving a change, he took a sabbatical and explored re a l e st ate, st u d i e d a f i n a n c i a l p l a n n i n g diploma, as much for his own education and investments as discovering a new career path. In 2016, Graeme saw an opportunity in the mortgage broking industry. That year, he and his wife Rebecca launched Infinity Group with a clear value proposition. “My wife had a personal training background when we first met, and that influenced our approach – we 36
became what some have called ‘personal trainers for finances,’” explains Graeme. “I saw everyone selling a product or service, but nobody was servicing the customer unless the customer contacted them. “We’ve created an almost cult-like following due to our clients paying their loans off in two, three, seven years because we’re holding their hand and making sure they stick to their budget,” says Graeme. “Our real work starts when the loan settles. That’s when we start the budgeting, the coaching, shopping for better deals on utilities and making every single dollar of theirs count. That’s our value proposition and why we are a fee-for-service business.” Infinity uses a customer portal, that stores documents and rental ledgers, insurance, registration papers, feeds to RP data and Redbook for property and car values, everything is in there, and it tells them the customer their worth to the cent each day. “We put the goal of when they want to pay their mortgage off, and the portal tells us if they are on track down to the dollar,” shares Graeme. “We’ve got clients that take a bank loan of $500,000 and they’re doing like $8–10,000 a year off their principal. With our help, they’re taking $10– 11,000 off their principal loan every 60 days.”
“We want our clients to destroy their mortgages as quickly as possible.” For Graeme and Rebecca, Infinity is about helping their clients build wealth and not just buy a house. “We want our clients to destroy their mortgages as quickly as possible, and come back for another.” With education as empowerment at the centre of Infinity, Graeme now only takes on new clients after they have completed a two-day masterclass. “Our goal is to teach people to be informed before they make financial decisions. I bring in an economist, a chartered accountant, a financial planner and myself and we educate about financial literacy.” Infinity works with clients all over Australia, offering the two-day masterclass online, and supports clients with all types of loans, from homes to cars to fridges, planes to trains and submarines. Graeme says Infinity’s retention rate sits around 90%. Since 2016, Infinity has grown from just Graeme and Rebecca to now have two offices in Sydney, one in the Gold Coast and one in Melbourne. In 2019, Graeme published his book, The Money Mentor. “Most people have never learned how to budget, they just exist in a cycle of debt,” says
Graeme. “Budget isn’t a dirty word, it’s not about deprivation. Our clients find that once they have a budget they can afford family holidays and enjoy life.” This approach has sent Infinity on a trajectory. Within Graeme’s first year as a broker, he was named a Top 100 broker, and continued to climb the rankings. Infinity has also won innovation awards and broking awards year on year. In March this year Graeme was named FBAA’s 2021 Broker of the Year. “It was an absolute honour. As the industry body, this award is the best of the best,” says Graeme. Graeme’s advice to brokers wanting to get started or accelerate their business is to connect with your local community. “Networking is really important. Focus on networking within your community, so chat to the people you buy your coffee from every day, the taxi drivers, the people you cross paths with daily. Also, get good at articulating exactly what you do. “Education is the real key though – I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal development. I believe you’re either growing or dying.”
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What's on At
JUL-AUG LEARN & EARN 2022 SESSIONS With our FBAA sessions running throughout the winter months, what better way to ‘Learn and Earn’ what you need to know within the Finance Industry, from your preferred location and backdrop. The content will be different for Session 1 and Session 2 within your state, so we encourage you to register for both. Click the register now button to view the various state sessions on offer.
JUL-AUG NAVIG8BIZ FREE TUTORIALS Are you looking for ways to improve your business skills? Look no further than Navig8 Biz. Free Live Business Tutorials are the perfect way to learn new techniques and strategies.
Upskilling SERIES Navig8Biz Free Tutorials to improve your Business Skills
Click the register now button to see and register for upcoming Navig8 tutorials.
WEBINAR 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM AEST
COMMERCIAL LENDING SKILLS
An FBAA & Accendo Financial SME Workshop for all skill levels. At the end of the workshop each participant will know: • The key success drivers of successful SMEs. • How to read financial statements like an expert. • What the blueprint is to Learn the SME story. Click the register now button to register and read more about this event.
JUL-SEP WEBINARS FBAA and netStripes bring you all the latest webinars and trends to position your business for online success. Click the register now button to see and register for upcoming netStripes webinars.
All the latest webinars
JUL-SEP WEBINARS Held monthly, these Q&A sessions with FBAA Managing Director Peter White AM are streamed as a live webinar session with the FBAA and an invited guest or guests.
Topics include Government updates, business building advice, industry updates, news from lenders and aggregators, issues of concern for brokers, mental health and more.
Click the register now button to view and register for the latest Q&A With Whitey sessions.
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STATE PRESIDENTS Welcome to our new State Presidents.
Western Australia - State President
Queensland - State President
Director NHM Asset Management Mobile: 0438 151 181 Email: email@example.com
Mortgage Now Mobile: 0414 628 111 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
South Australia & Northern Territory - State President
New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory - State President
Nieuvision Financial Planning Mobile: 0402 201 510 Email: email@example.com
Mortgage Rate Finder Mobile: 0450 573 336 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Spencer Victoria & Tasmania - State President Opica Group Mobile: 0412 497 110 Email: email@example.com
Would you like more information on an FBAA event or PD Day thats happening in your local area? Maybe you have some feedback or an issue you would like to discuss? Finance Brokers Association of Australia Street: Level 1, 1 Miles Platting Road Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113 Post: PO Box 4792, Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113 Phone: (07) 3847 8119 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.fbaa.com.au
Peter White AM
Chair | Director
Managing Director | FBAA Life Member
Cert IV Finance, Graduate Management Qualification (GMQ) – UWA
Tony Carter has been involved with the motor and finance industry for more than 40 years. The last 20 years he has been Dealer Principal and Director of three motor dealerships. He has been engaged with finance since his early career days at AGC and was a licensed finance broker in WA from 2004 to 2013, ending as an ACL holder when he resigned from the motor dealership position. Today, Tony holds a credit representative role under his son’s company and runs his own vehicle and finance brokerage in WA. Over the past 20 years Tony has been on three not-for-profit boards; BIZLINK (Chairman), Asthma Foundation WA (Chairman), and Asthma Australia (Director). Special Responsibilities Chair of the FBAA Board of Directors | Member of Finance, Audit Investment and Remuneration Committee | Member of Governance and Risk Committee | Chair of Nomination and Membership Committee | Member of Education Development Committee | Leader of State President Liaison Advisory Group | Member of Concierge Advisory Forum
Principal Broker Brokerage WA Phone: 0418 911 220 Email: email@example.com
Peter White AM has vast experience in banking and finance, spanning more than four decades. He is highly engaged with government and industry regulators, ensuring and protecting the future of our industry and dealing with regulatory matters of the day. Peter’s activities with FBAA include representation on the Advisory Board of the Small Business Association of Australia, as Chairman of the Global Board of Governors for the International Mortgage Brokers Federation (IMBF), and the industry’s passionate advocate for mental health awareness. Peter was awarded as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the June 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for his significant service to the finance sector and to the community. Special Responsibilities Government, media and strategy | Leader of Concierge Advisory Forum | Leader of Combined Industry Forum | Leader of International Mortgage Brokers Federation | Leader of Education Platform Steering Committee | Member of Finance, Audit, Investment and Remuneration Committee | Member of Governance and Risk Committee | Member of Nomination and Membership Committee | Member of Education Development Committee | Member of State Presidents Liaison Advisory Group | Member of Equity Release Advisory Forum Phone: (07) 3847 8119 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Company Secretary | Director
Treasurer | Director | FBAA Life Member
JJP (Qual), DipFS, AFB, MAICD, GIA (Affiliated)
B.Com (Prof Acct), Cert IV (FMB),CPFB, MAICD, FBAA Life Member
Kim Szigeti has vast experience in finance and mortgage broking, spanning more than 25 years. Kim joined FBAA in 2005, was Secretary to the Queensland Council from 2007 to 2009 and was elected to the Board in 2017. She was appointed to the position of Company Secretary in 2017. Kim is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Governance Institute. Over the years Kim has been involved in numerous volunteer positions within the community as Chairperson, Coordinator and Secretary to secure donations and organise events. Special Responsibilities Chair of Governance and Risk Committee | Chair of Education Development Committee | Member of Nominations and Membership Committee | Member of Education Platform Committee
Mortgages Can Do Phone: (07) 5592 2635 Email: email@example.com
Stephen Rasmussen has been involved in the finance and banking industry for more than 40 years. He started in a branch environment, acquiring broad lending experience across retail and SME sectors, before starting his own broking business in 1995. Stephen joined FBAA as a member in 2000, was appointed Queensland and Northern Territory State President in 2009 and was elected to the Board as a Director in 2016. Special Responsibilities Finance, Audit, Investment and Renumeration Committee | Leader of Equity Release Industry Advisory Committee | Member of Governance and Risk Committee | Member of Combined Industry Forum
Principal Tailored Lending Concepts Mobile: 0412 295 875 Phone: (07) 4637 0836 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AFB, Certificate IV (FMB)
BEc, MBA, GAICD, Grad Dip FP, Grad Dip App Finance & Investment
Angelo Lauro has had several careers in executive and development roles across various sectors in the past 20 years with more than 10 years in finance specialising in asset finance. Angelo has built successful businesses including one of the largest asset brokerages in Australia. Angelo is currently the director of a boutique aggregation business supporting brokers across Australia and currently works with the Commercial Equipment, Asset Finance and Motor Dealers Committee (CAM) supporting asset brokers and motor dealers. Special Responsibilities Member of Governance and Risk Committee | Member of Nomination and Membership Committee | Member of Education Development Committee | Member of Education Platform Committee
Director Australian Finance Aggregation Phone: (07) 3193 9447 Email: email@example.com
Clive Kirkpatrick is a successful executive with more than 30 years’ experience in banking and financial services both in Australia and offshore. He is experienced in strategy formulation and execution, business management, sales management and people leadership. Clive’s generalist background and sound understanding of marketing, product development, legal and compliance is supported by an MBA (Master of Business Administration). Clive has developed governance and directorship skills through GAICD and memberships and has a specialist knowledge and demonstrable capability in distribution. Special Responsibilities Member of Finance, Audit, Investment, Remuneration Committee | Member of Governance and Risk Committee | Member of Dispute Resolution Service | Member of Concierge Advisory Group
Director Kircon PTY LTD Mobile: 0439 564 885 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Felicity Heffernan has been a business owner for 22 years, and run her own mortgage brokerage since 2007. Based in Newcastle, NSW, she is also the author of two books and speaks publicly on assisting people who want financial freedom. Felicity has served on the FBAA NSW State Council and as past NSW State President. She holds a strong advocacy position for the improvement of financial competencies to be lifted in Australia. Special Responsibilities Member of Dispute Resolution Service | Member of Nomination and Membership Committee | Member of State Presidents Liaison Advisory Group
CEO Property Loan Advisor Mobile: 0417 024 300 Email: email@example.com
An experienced board director, Barry is a Chartered Accountant whose roles have included chairing HBF Health, Bethanie Group and Bethanie Housing as well as Churches of Christ in WA. He was a board member with Plan B Group Holdings Limited, Plan B Trustees Ltd, HBF Health, HBF Insurance, Westcare, together with various committees of the Uniting Church in Australia and major not-for-profit sports associations. Formerly the Partner in Charge of the Corporate Recovery Division of KPMG in Perth, Barry is presently a partner at Chartered Accountants, Honey & Honey. Barry brings a high level of governance and financial analytical skills as well as expertise in the oversight of undertakings in a ‘for-purpose’ environment. Special Responsibilities Member of Governance & Risk Committee
Partner Honey & Honey, Chartered Accountants Phone: (08) 9382 3902 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Wormald Director Nick Wormald is a certified mortgage finance professional and business finance specialist, working with Australia’s up and coming entrepreneurs to unlock growth with the right application of finance. Based in Sydney, Nick is a speaker, author and youth mentor. Accumulating over 22 years experience in business investment, business strategy and management, Nick currently leads a team of finance professionals in his own business. Nick has served on the FBAA NSW State Council and as past NSW State President. Special Responsibilities Member of Dispute Resolution Service
Grow Capital Mobile: 0488 810 555 Email: email@example.com
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