MPAMAGAZINE.COM.AU ISSUE 21.01
2021 The top new brokers making waves in the industry despite all its challenges
NEAR PRIME LENDING The value of this alternative solution in the current market
BIG INTERVIEW A chat with Pepperâ€™s Aaron Milburn about the importance of brokers
STAMP DUTY CHANGES How will recent budget announcements affect the property market?
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UPFRONT 02 Editorial
Welcome to a new year
NEAR PRIME LENDING
Two lenders discuss the widening landscape for alternative solutions
Pepper’s general manager, mortgages and commercial lending, explains why brokers are vital to self-employed borrowers
The broker differential
FEATURES 40 Leadership strategy
Five ways to gain trust by treating your people like adults
48 Other life
46 Brokerage insight
Broking's power couple: Aaron and Bernadette Christie-David The broker with a plan to visit all seven continents
How being creative can lift your team’s mood and spark new ideas
ONBOARDING NEW STAFF
The business benefits of communicating your values upfront
385 363 213 ne.
Stamp duty: a thing of the past?
Why good staff can behave badly – and how to avoid it
Meet the up-and-coming brokers who started out in the industry during two difficult years
06 News analysis
44 Employee management
YOUNG GUNS 2021
Losing faith in the property dream
MPAMAGAZINE.COM.AU NOW ONLINE: Our daily newsletter. Keep on top of property market trends, business strategy, and what industry leaders have to say.
12/01/2021 7:55:21 AM
EDITOR’S LETTER www.mpamagazine.com.au
High hopes for a new year
s we head into 2021, one can only wish for a bright new year that goes a little more smoothly than the last. It was a positive sign in the last couple of months of 2020 that normal business life seemed to be starting up again. I began to meet with brokers and broker groups, and there were even a few Christmas events to attend. If we have learnt one thing from the last year, it’s that things can change in an instant, but I am hopeful that we’ll all be able to see each other at more events in the year ahead. In the meantime, let’s turn to this issue. As it does every January, this month’s magazine includes our Young Guns feature. We celebrate 25 of the industry’s newest recruits who have not only overcome the usual challenges of starting out in broking but also had to navigate the additional hurdles of the past 12 months. While a few of these brokers entered the industry at the very start of the pandemic, the majority joined in 2019. COVID-19 may not have been around
If we have learnt one thing from the last year, it’s that things can change in an instant, but I am hopeful back then, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy time to become a broker. The recommendations of the banking royal commission had been released at the start of the year, so these brokers faced new regulations, increased scrutiny, and questions around the remuneration. Previously, this feature has focused on the recommendations given to brokers by aggregators, BDMs or managers, but this year I reached out to every one of our Young Guns to understand what their experiences have been like. Many of them had a background in the finance industry so were prepared to make the move into broking. Others had completely different experiences: one Young Gun was originally a marine technician in the Navy. Read more about these incredible new-to-industry brokers in the Young Guns feature on page 14. Also in this issue is a sector focus on near prime lending, which looks at why lending in this space is so important after a year like 2020. I hope you enjoy the magazine and that your new year is off to a great start.
JANUARY 2021 EDITORIAL
SALES & MARKETING
Editor Rebecca Pike
National Sales Manager Claire Tan
Contributors Nathan Baird, Mark Carter, Susan Mitchell, Gustavo Razzetti, Zoë Routh Production Editor Roslyn Meredith
ART & PRODUCTION Designer Cess Rodriguez Traffic Coordinator Kristine Jamir
Global Head of Media Marketing Lisa Narroway
CORPORATE Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley Managing Director Justin Kennedy Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil
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Rebecca Pike, editor, MPA Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss.
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Lost faith in the Aussie Dream Seven in 10 young Aussies feel the Great Australian Dream is impossible to achieve, says ME report THE ECONOMIC impact of COVID-19 is being felt by young Aussies, with almost 70% saying the Great Australian Dream is impossible to achieve for their generation, according to new research from ME. The bank surveyed 1,000 Gen Zs and Gen Ys in September 2020 on the Great Aussie Dream − defined by owning a dream home, finding a dream job and retiring at or before the age of 65. It found that 82% of young Aussies believe it was easier for past generations to achieve this dream, and 62%
84% believe entering the workforce is harder since COVID-19
69% believe owning a home is
impossible for young Australians
also fear that their children/the next generation will struggle to do so. Additionally, as a result of COVID-19, 69% are delaying major life goals, and close to half of respondents estimated it would take another one to three years to reach them. “The best thing young Aussies can do right now is not to lose hope, but reassess their goals, upskill the management of their personal finances and seek support when they need it,” said ME general manager home loans Andrew Bartolo.
69% have delayed major life goals as a result of COVID-19
UNCERTAINTY PREVAILS Of all Gen Ys and Gen Zs who said they felt negative about their financial situation, 56% said uncertainty around the economy was one reason and 52% said they were unable to save money. In contrast, those who felt positive about the economy said it was because they were saving more money and managing their finances better.
You said you’re feeling positive about your financial situation as a result of COVID-19. Why is this?*
62% believe owning a home will be
impossible for the next generation
It’s enabled me to pay off debt more quickly than before
I have debts *Respondents could choose multiple responses
Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
MAJORITY HELD BACK BY COVID
While around a third of Aussies felt either positive, negative or neutral about their financial situation, two thirds felt COVID-19 had made it harder to get ahead.
REGIONAL AUSSIES STRUGGLING
While only a third of young Aussies say they are struggling to make ends meet, the figure rises substantially for those living in regional NSW.
COVID-19 has made it even harder for me to get ahead financially
Agree (regional NSW)
Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
I live week to week and struggle to make ends meet
Disagree (national) Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
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I received a promotion or pay rise
I’m saving more money
Lack of job opportunities in the labour market
You said you’re feeling negative about your financial situation as a result of COVID-19. Why is this?*
It’s provided opportunities to invest, eg in shares
Spending more on essential items
My studies have been disrupted
I’ve taken a wage cut/my income has been reduced
My investments and/or super have been negatively impacted
Unable to save money and get ahead
I’ve moved back in with my parents to save money
I’m managing my money better, eg created a budget, reduced spending
I’m more focused on my studies, which will improve my future earnings
It’s allowed me to work remotely and move to a more affordable location
I’ve lost my job/got a redundancy
I’m unable to achieve financial goals, eg take a holiday, buy a car
Uncertainty around the economy
Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
PANDEMIC DELAYS GOALS
Of those respondents who said they had delayed or downgraded their goals due to COVID-19, almost half said they had been set back by between one and three years.
Less than 6 months
More than 3 years
6 months to 1 year
ONE IN FIVE HAVE PUT OFF BUYING HOME
When asked what goals Aussies had delayed or downgraded, the second-largest response showed that millennials have put off buying a property; 40% said it was one of their major life goals before COVID-19.
You said you’ve delayed or downgraded goal(s) due to COVID-19. Approximately how far do you feel you’ve been set back?
Which goals have you delayed or downgraded?
1 to 3 years Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
Buying my first property Source: ME Bank’s Aussie Dream Survey, 2020
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What stamp duty changes could mean As NSW prepares to replace stamp duty with an annual tax, MPA talks to brokers about the pros and cons of the reforms for property buyers STATES ARE gearing up for reforms to stamp duty since both the NSW and Victorian governments revealed their plans for the tax in their November budget announcements. In NSW, the new tax model would give buyers a choice of paying either the upfront stamp duty and land tax or a smaller annual property tax. While there has been a lot of positive reaction to the news, Sydney-based financial planner and mortgage broker Tony Bice warns that it may not translate into real savings for many. The change to stamp duty would mean huge savings on upfront costs for first home buyers, he explains, but it wouldn’t work in the favour of upsizers who want to stay put over the long term. Modelling has shown that, after a homeowner has paid the proposed annual property tax for 10 years, the overall cost would likely start to exceed what would have been a one-off payment at the time of purchase. Those buying their ‘forever home’ would thus stand to lose from the change, which is why the success of the new scheme will come down to having choice, says the Finance Made Easy owner. But this is a choice that first home buyers in the Harbour City will be sure to appreciate, Bice adds. “If we want to kick-start the economy, the choice that the majority of first home buyers
are going to want is to delay the payment,” says Bice. A Sydney buyer purchasing a two-bedroom apartment in the inner-west suburb of Ashfield would need a deposit of about $145,000 to avoid LMI, based on a median price of $712,000. According to Your Mortgage, the stamp duty payable on a property of this size is about $27,800, meaning the buyer would need well over $172,000 to finance the deal. While some first home buyers may be eligible for a reduction or exemption under
amount,” he says. “The relief that the proposed property tax will bring can’t be underestimated – right now we need everything that we can get to assist in kick-starting the economy.” Wollongong broker Paul Wright agrees that the proposed stamp duty reform would help first home buyers get into the Illawarra
“The relief that the proposed property tax will bring can’t be underestimated – right now we need everything that we can get to assist in kick-starting the economy” Tony Bice, Finance Made Easy the current scheme, many of those buying an existing property in Sydney could potentially save thousands upfront if they elected to pay an annual property tax instead. “The implementation of a property tax will allow more people access to buying a home by easing the total amount that they have to save, as well as allowing them to borrow a higher
property market, adding that upgraders and downsizers could also benefit. “With upgraders, I think sometimes there is a reluctance to sell and then buy because of the changeover cost,” he says. “When you think about it, if you’re upgrading from a $800,000 to a $1m property or even a $1.1m to $1.2m property, you’re looking at change-
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IS STAMP DUTY OUTDATED?
1865 Year stamp duty was introduced
$34,000 Amount of stamp duty added to the price of an average NSW home
2.5 years Time it takes the average homebuyer to save for stamp duty (compared to 1 year in 1990)
6% Rate at which homeownership has fallen over the last 24 years
14% Rate at which homeownership among 35- to 44-year-olds has fallen during the same period Source: NSW Treasury Property Tax Reform brochure, NSW Budget 2020/21
over costs that are somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000 to $70,000 if you factor in real estate, stamp duty and legal fees. “People tend to gravitate towards the renovation side, so it will be interesting to see whether it changes that.” Lloyd Edge, buyer’s agent and author of
the larger restraints to entering the property market for first home buyers is often needing that upfront stamp duty on top of the deposit they have saved.” This could result in a surge in property values within the lower-priced Sydney markets in particular, Edge says.
“This [proposed reform] will create some great opportunities for brokers as there will be more buyers entering the markets and looking for loans” Lloyd Edge, Positively Geared Positively Geared, says the reform could cause instability in the NSW property market over the short term until the details of the arrangement are finalised. “Over the longer term, prices may be affected by an ongoing land tax which is levied annually,” he says. “It may mean more first home buyers will enter the market, as one of
“Stamp duty has often caused distortions in buying and selling decisions because of these large upfront costs,” he says. “I believe this will create some great opportunities for brokers as there will be more buyers entering the markets and looking for loans.” Victoria’s plans for stamp duty are less contentious, as the state has announced
waivers of up to 50% on stamp duty for homes valued at a maximum of $1m with contracts for sale up to 30 June 2021. To support the construction industry in Victoria, relief will be targeted at newly built or off-the-plan homes, which will receive a 50% waiver. Existing homes will be eligible for a 25% waiver. Aussie CEO James Symond welcomed the news, saying there was a need to kick-start the economy as people “emerge from lockdown with pent-up demand and enforced savings by not travelling or going out”. “The stamp duty relief offers first home buyers in Victoria a fighting chance at getting into the market sooner than they would otherwise and could have an immediate and positive impact on first home buyers and young families,” he said. “It is a great time for Victorian next-home buyers and those looking to enter the property market, with the power in their hands when it comes to getting a good home loan deal amid low mortgage rates and government initiatives. We would like to see even more support measures for homebuyers continue.”
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The broker differential: customer education Mortgage Choice CEO Susan Mitchell explains how educating borrowers can create customers for life AS A woman who has spent her career working in financial services, I am acutely aware of the importance of financial literacy and the role it plays in achieving financial independence. At Mortgage Choice, our promise is to make Australians financially stronger. It is with this view that we have approached our partnership with Tilly Money. The platform is on a mission to make financial information accessible, digestible and interesting for women. The mortgage industry helps people enter one of the biggest financial commitments of their lives, and its duty is to ensure that borrowers are able to manage their debt. Sadly, financial education is often overlooked at school, and as research by Mortgage Choice and others reveals, women, specifically, feel less confident when it comes to their financial wellbeing. Our latest research provided insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Australians' state of mind and property goals. In our survey of over 1,000 Australians, 61.3% of female respondents said COVID-19 had had a negative impact on their financial peace of mind, compared to only 53.4% of men. I believe that if more women were equipped with the right tools and professional guidance, fewer women would feel this way. We want to help women build the confidence to manage their own money and thrive. Providing financial education is one of the key tenets of mortgage broking, and the best interests duty means brokers are now legally required to do so. Providing education is a fundamental part of the credit process for brokers, and we consistently see that those who do this well benefit from lifelong customer relationships, referrals and repeat business.
Why focus on financial education Advocacy Educating your customers is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your expertise and establish trust as a broker, creating a sticky customer. Customers who feel like they can trust you and that you’re working in their best interest are much more likely to recommend you to their family and friends.
need to teach them something. If you take the time to help them truly understand their options and how these will help them achieve their goals, you will create customers for life.
Speak their language Professionals in any industry get used to speaking a certain language, but make no assumptions that your customer knows your language; keep it simple. Not only will this
Educating your customers is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your expertise and establish trust Professionalism BID creates a legal requirement for brokers to act in a certain way and prioritise the interests of customers over their own. This will raise the professional standard of our industry, and broker market share will continue to grow as a result.
Credibility and differentiation One of the many ways that brokers differentiate themselves from lenders is by educating customers on their home loan options. Being able to help customers understand government schemes and different product types and features and give them access to a panel of lenders is the broker differential. We offer more choice, so it’s important that we take the time to clearly articulate our recommendations.
How to help educate customers The best brokers approach their customer interactions with the knowledge that they will
help you demonstrate that you’re acting in their best interest, but it will also help the customer through their home loan journey.
Become part of their journey Help your customers understand how your recommendations fit into their financial goals, and explain how breaking their end goal, such as homeownership, into smaller goals makes progress feel achievable – whether by helping them understand how they can pay off their loan faster, or the consequences of excess personal debt, or how their spending behaviour can impact their creditworthiness, or why it’s important to save, and more. Take the time to help them set a plan and show that you will be part of their journey by checking in on them on an ongoing basis. Susan Mitchell is the CEO of Mortgage Choice.
12/01/2021 8:07:51 AM
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AARON MILBURN: FOCUS ON REAL-LIFE SOLUTIONS The past 12 months have been difficult for many existing and would-be Aussie borrowers. But while they may not have been able to turn to the mainstream banks for finance, alternative lenders like Pepper are still advocating for them
REFLECTING ON the year just passed, Pepper’s general manager, mortgages and commercial lending, Aaron Milburn, says it was one “like no other”. After the business started 2020 helping brokers and borrowers through the summer bushfire season, the global pandemic swiftly followed. Whether brokers, PAYG employees or selfemployed customers, almost everyone encountered challenges in 2020. But Milburn says he really saw brokers come to the fore in terms of customer support. In fact, broker market share rose to its highest-ever level of 60% in the September 2020 quarter, reflecting just how great the need for that broker support was. “The fact that customers reverted to their broker as their first point of call for help when under stress really showcases the value a broker offers post-settlement,” Milburn says. “That’s something most in the industry already knew – it just came to the fore this year.” Explaining the importance of mortgage brokers, Milburn says they are particularly vital in helping those customers who need
alternative solutions, which is exactly where Pepper comes in. “If it was left to customers transacting through banks alone, there would be thousands of customers across Australia who would be without solutions,” he says.
Opportunities ahead for brokers With the best interests duty now officially in play as of 1 January, Milburn says it is more important than ever for brokers to be aware of
broker’s role to ensure that they match the customer with the product best suited to them,” he says. “Knowing how resilient our industry was in 2020, we’re entering 2021 excited about the opportunities for innovation in the year ahead. We found that brokers and their customers were more open to alternative lending options last year, which bodes especially well for 2021.” As the non-bank looks ahead to 2021, Milburn says that, just like in 2014 when
“If it was left to customers transacting through banks alone, there would be thousands of customers across Australia who would be without solutions” the products an alternative lender can offer. “Whether a customer is self-employed, casual, part-time, full-time or even earning income from the gig economy, there is a product in the market for them, and it’s the
Pepper introduced the near prime product, innovation continues to play a key part in its plans. Brokers will see innovation in Pepper’s technology, products and policy that ensures
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PROFILE Name: Aaron Milburn Title: General manager, mortgages and commercial lending Company: Pepper Money Years in the industry: 22 Career highlight: “Opening Pepper NZ. It was and is a huge privilege to open and lead a business in a new country.” Career lowlight: “Watching the impact the GFC had on people’s lives whilst I worked in the UK. It was a learning experience as a young area manager that was life-changing for me.”
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the lender is at the forefront of the changing mortgage market. “Put simply, we want to make it easier for brokers and their customers by reducing the effort required to get a loan,” he says. “When a customer speaks with a broker about a loan, they’ve probably already found the house. The kids have picked out their bedroom, and it’s the lender who is in the way of them getting the keys to the front door. We’ve got to smooth that path. That’s our focus for 2021. “We want to make the realisation of that dream seamless, and to make the broker look
Milburn says that at Pepper the team take a “real-life” view of customers. “In real life, getting a loan should not be determined by how you prove your income,” he explains. “If you lined up 20 of your friends at a barbecue, I can guarantee that you would find at least three or four who don’t fit the current credit policies of the traditional major banks. They need a different solution.” Pepper offers such a solution. Its alt-doc home loan caters to self-employed customers with a variety of financial circumstances, including small business owners, contract or
“We found that brokers and their customers were more open to alternative lending options last year, which bodes especially well for 2021” like a hero as well. We can’t forget that word of mouth and personal recommendations are what builds a broker’s business. “That’s why you will see us continue to invest heavily into broker education, release technology improvements to our broker tools, and offer more real-life solutions in 2021.”
Backing self-employed borrowers Milburn believes that as we cast off from the COVID-19 pandemic and “enter into smoother waters”, some sections of the market are being underserved or undervalued by Australia’s major banks, self-employed borrowers being one such segment. While the big banks may be talking about record-low interest rates and cash-back promotions, these offers are not always available to self-employed borrowers who are looking to buy a new home or refinance. One of the biggest problems for selfemployed borrowers who want to access finance is proof of income.
seasonal workers, tradies, people who have been self-employed for less than two years, those who have experienced a life event, and property investors. The non-bank’s Pepper Product Selector tool also enables brokers to provide their borrowers with indicative offers tailored to their circumstances in less than two minutes. Understanding that customers are not always aware of or confident about trying alternative solutions, the tool is accompanied by a full education platform to help brokers position the loan. “It is incumbent on us as a lender to partner with brokers to ensure their education is maintained so that they can enact their responsibilities under the best interests duty,” Milburn says. “I stress that this is a partnership; it is not an ‘us and them’. Pepper has always been a key provider of education in the industry and will continue to be a key partner in the years ahead.”
PEPPER’S FIVE-STEP PROCESS Pepper Money offers an educational tool to support brokers who are offering borrowers alternative solutions. The non-bank says learning and following its five steps can help brokers increase conversion, improve customer satisfaction, maximise referral opportunities and create a client for life. “I can only encourage more brokers to utilise Pepper’s Five-Step Process as a way of positioning a near prime loan with a customer,” Milburn says. The five steps: Step 1: Acceptance mode Step 2: Offer the alternative Step 3: Offer the repayment Step 4: Long-term objectives Step 5: Proceed to the application To find out more about using Pepper’s Five-Step Process, speak to your Pepper BDM.
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
Meet the 25 up-and-coming brokers who have made it through the aftermath of the royal commission and a global pandemic with incredible settlement numbers â€“ all in their first two years
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FOR MANY PEOPLE, the prospect of starting a new business or making a career change and then heading into a global pandemic would have been a terrifying thought, but our 2021 Young Guns have shown what can come of staying resilient and focused. The numbers this year are impressive: the average total annual settlements figure is $10m higher than a year ago, and the lowest value is more than $6m above the cut-off criteria for being listed. This is incredible not just because these Young Guns worked as new brokers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The earliest any of this year’s Young Guns started working as brokers was in January 2019, which means many of them also began around the same time or in the months following the royal commission final report. They faced uncertainty, changing regulations and increased scrutiny in their first year of broking, and then, in their second year, just as everyone thought the market was calming down and things would be picking up again, the pandemic hit. But while the past two years have been tumultuous, the opportunities for brokers are clear. With borrowers experiencing such concern and uncertainty, they turned to brokers for support: in the recent MFAA figures for the September quarter, the broker share reached a record high of 60.1%. MFAA Industry Intelligence Service data for the March 2020 quarter showed that there were around 1,557 Australians per broker, and with market share rising it is no wonder brokers are talking about being incredibly busy. The 2021 Young Guns are facing the same challenges as established brokers, with changing lender policies and new technology, but it seems they have all jumped straight into their new careers with tremendous success. There are strict criteria when it comes to choosing MPA’s Young Guns – an even greater testament to the success of the brokers who made it into the list this year. The Young Guns must be aged 35 or under; they must have written more than $15m in loans over the previous 12 months; and they must have worked as accredited brokers for no more than two years and never previously have been named as an MPA Young Gun. Brokers send in submissions to MPA explaining why they deserve to be considered, and we look at recommendations from their peers to decide who makes the list. We do not rank our Young Guns, so there is no ‘number one’ broker; instead we choose to celebrate all these new entrants equally. Thank you to all the brokers who sent in submissions this year, and to all those colleagues, BDMs, managers, etc., who provided recommendations and support for these up-and-coming brokers. Also, a big thanks to our sponsor, ING, which has been a valued supporter of this list for several years.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR We are honoured to once again sponsor MPA’s Young Guns report in 2021. For the growth and sustainability of the mortgage broker industry, it’s essential that young entrants continue to enter the industry and stay on to build their careers as professional mortgage brokers. With up to 85% of ING home loans originated via the third party channel, brokers are not simply a distribution channel for ING but an integral part of our business. The Young Guns in this report epitomise the traits of a successful broker: being customer focused, driven, dedicated, resilient and a good listener who demonstrates genuine care. It is heartening to see such young talent entering the broker market, and ING is committed to supporting the development of these brokers. 2020 has seen a major shift in the way mortgage brokers operate, but these Young Guns have shown resilience, adapting quickly to a constantly changing environment. They exemplify the qualities of top-performing brokers and will continue to grow. It gives me great pleasure to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the nominees for the MPA Young Guns 2021 and their hard work and dedication to the industry. Congratulations to all the nominees.
Glenn Gibson Head of third party distribution and direct mortgages, ING
$36,203,698 Average total annual settlements of MPA’s Young Guns
30 Average age of the Young Guns in 2021
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
Welshpool, WA / Loan Market
Bondi Junction, NSW / Evoke Capital
Dubbed an “impressive young man” by Loan Market WA state director Royden D’Vaz, 23-year-old James Bartlett has spent the last three years building his business, at the same time as working in the mining industry. While his career change came with lots of challenges, he is proud of what he has achieved because of his dedication and the time and effort he has put in. This is “just the beginning”, he says. “Being named in MPA’s Young Guns solidifies that I made the right move and gives me motivation for the future.” D’Vaz adds, “James has always aspired to help his clients realise their dream of homeownership ... He is an impressive young man with stars in his eyes to achieve bigger and better things.”
ISABELLA CONSTANTINOU Pymble, NSW / Simplicity Loans and Advisory
Having been accredited as a broker in January 2020, Evoke Capital’s Matt Spears leverages over a decade of experience in banking and as a gym owner in order to provide great customer outcomes. Spears has not only helped borrowers purchase new homes and investment properties but has refinanced existing facilities. Specialist Finance Group head of aggregation Blake Buchanan says Spears has proved his willingness to succeed during a year of uncertainty. “Matt has continually exceeded the challenging requirements and expectations of a new broker who is not only at the start of his broking career but is also building out his own business and brand,” Buchanan says.
Despite only becoming a broker in April 2020, which makes her our most recent broker on this list, Simplicity Loans and Advisory’s Isabella Constantinou has written almost $22m with just 11 loans. When she began as an associate at the brokerage straight out of university, she says she learned everything she could, which prepared her for the challenging introduction to the industry the year brought. “Isabella has showed incredible drive and hard work over the three years she has worked at Simplicity, and her achievements ... are a complete testament to her dedication and talent as a young female in the commercial broking world,” says MD Jean-Pierre Gortan.
WHO ARE OUR YOUNG GUNS?
WA 1 NSW 10 VIC 10
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
MARIO REYAD Drummoyne, NSW / Your Finance Adviser $25,900,000
As someone who considers himself “driven and hungry” to write more deals, Mario Reyad says it’s important to never compromise on service and quality in doing so. Coming from a non-financial services background, Reyad has achieved success by sourcing his own leads, working with strong referral partners and partnering with those who have supported and coached him. It was his strong interest in his own personal finances and investing that made
him take a course to further his knowledge; that’s how he fell in love with broking, and he continued to work in the field. It’s no secret that being a new-to-industry broker is a challenge – even without COVID-19 – but one thing Reyad was not expecting was the lengthy lender SLAs currently being seen. Not one to be defeated by such a challenge, he says this has actually shaped him to be the broker he is, as it has helped him manage the expectations of his clients and work with
them to find the best solutions to their needs. Reyad adds that the key thing that has helped him achieve such success in his first two years in broking has been the time he has given to helping his clients. “I take the time to explain why and how, as opposed to just writing the loan and getting them their property,” he says. “This has accelerated my business dramatically, and my clients have recommended me through word of mouth because of this.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021 JONATHAN SCARONI
VAIBHAV (VEE) SHAH
Maroochydore, Qld / SMS Finance
Hawthorn East, Vic / MTA Mortgage Brokers $23,645,702
In his first 18 months as a broker at SMS Finance, Jonathan Scaroni has estab lished himself as an “integral contributor” to the success of the business, cracking into the first home buyer market and creating strong relationships with referral partners. Scaroni joined the broking industry after realising his job at a major bank was often about pushing products people didn’t necessarily need. “I had a chance to experience mortgage finance and how enjoyable it was to help clients achieve their goals ... I quickly realised I needed to pursue a more direct career path as to where I could have a bigger impact on my clients’ lives,” he says. While broking in 2020 looked to be scary at first, Scaroni says the government packages meant borrower enquiries have increased consistently since April. SMS Finance director Brenden Brial says that, despite Scaroni’s brief industry experience, he is very knowledgeable and “well versed in the intricacies of policies across a wide range of lenders, which is invaluable in assisting our clients”. He adds that “Jonno is always courteous and respectful of his fellow employees, is an excellent team member and without doubt will have a long and very successful career as a mortgage broker.”
It was his desire to help others and his curiosity to learn new things every day that convinced Vaibhav Shah to become a broker. He became accredited in May 2019 and calls out several things that have helped him achieve success over this time, such as mentoring support, doing the right thing by the customer, pursuing business coaching, and knowing when to say no to customers who aren’t ready to buy. One of the challenges he did not foresee when he first joined the industry was the sudden move from paper files to digital – something every broker has had to come to terms with over the past 12 months. He says the team has made the change, however, and they are now seeing the benefits of doing so. Shah has observed that, with so many people working from home over the past year, there has been more time for them to focus on their finances, and thus business has been booming. PLAN Australia’s Victoria partnership manager, Daniel Coniglio, says, “Vaibhav is still young and a rising star in our industry, a name to look out for moving forward into the future. Being able to provide consistent customer service in a changing environment is also key to his success.”
BIG GROWTH IN HOME LOAN VALUES The latest MFAA Industry Intelligence Service report shows a stark difference in the value of home loans in March 2020 compared to one year prior, when three states hovered at around 0% loan value growth. Taking into account the continued fall in brokers numbers, it looks like there is a lot more work to go around.
Percent change in number of brokers vs change in value of home loans settled by state, year-on-year, Mar 2019–Mar 2020
Number of brokers New loans settled
5 0 -5
-10 -15 -20
NSW and ACT
Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service, 10th Edition
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
Cessnock, NSW / Innovative Home & Business Finance
Thomastown, Vic / Loan Gallery Finance
Berwick, Vic / Capabel Finance
After a career in lending at Westpac, Katie Davis joined Innovative Home & Business Finance as a broker in January 2020. Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the industry as a result of COVID-19, she achieved an average loan size of around $320,000 over the past year. Michael Gavan, director of Innovative Home & Business Finance, says that as a new broker Davis hit the ground running with her enthusiasm and dedication to her clients and referrers. “With any established referral network Katie has provided a high level of service, and this has helped grow her settlements at a rapid rate,” he says. “Katie has quickly established herself as a leader within our business and is continuing to grow her client base and settlements. Katie’s efforts in 10 months are exceptional and [so are her] settlement volumes, given the average loan size in our area.”
In his just under two years as an accredited broker, Mir Sauhrid says he has approached his career with a “learn as you go” attitude. He constantly upskills by exploring the variety of options available to his clients, attends every career development work shop on offer, and asks for guidance from his mentors if he is ever unsure. The diversity of broking is what really appeals to Sauhrid: working across home loans, commercial lending, personal loans and refinancing, he says “the options are endless”. Being able to help his clients in any of these areas and support them in becoming more financially literate is important to him. Sauhrid says that while COVID-19 definitely presented challenges for the broking industry, there have been opportunities too. “I believe I did quite well to stand strong against the storm, because for me patience is the name of game, I tried to speak to all of my clients on a regular basis to find out what they needed, and guided them every step of the way to find solutions during the crisis.” Mark Guglielmino, Loan Gallery’s broker development and operations manager, praises Sauhrid’s achievements, saying, “Mir has built solid relationships with his referral partners and been able to set himself up for a long and successful career in the mortgage broking industry.”
Having only become accredited as a broker in March 2020, Atik Shah was thrown into the industry right at the start of the lockdowns and restrictions in Australia. Based in Victoria, he would have felt those restrictions for much longer than many other brokers across the country, but he has still succeeded in writing almost $27m in less than a year. Shah has used his banking experience and existing networks to achieve these results in just six months. Finsure national commercial manager Jas Fazlic says Shah has proven himself to be resourceful and enthusiastic. “As a younger broker it is sometimes daunting leaving a bank and having to rebuild referral sources and relationships,” Fazlic says. “He very quickly adapted to the transition from banker to broker. He now runs a successful brokerage and manages some amazing relationships with lenders and referral partners. “I guess the biggest accolade is how he overcame and learnt how to work with a much wider panel of funders [after] losing some degree of control that he once had within the bank.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
CHUYU FENG Camberwell, Vic | AUSUN Finance $30,000,000
Within just eight months of becoming a credit representative, Chuyu Feng was named the top performer at AUSUN Finance. With clients reporting a 99% satisfaction rate, her success has been attributed to her competence, accountability, fantastic customer service and proactive learning attitude. Junhao Sun, managing director of AUSUN Finance, says Feng is continuing to learn and grow. “We receive great feedback from our clients about her professionalism, responsibility and knowledge,” he says. “She is a great team player and a young leader who is willing to share her knowledge, experience and lessons learnt from challenges to help others grow. It is my pleasure to witness her journey from zero to hero, and I have no doubt about her future success as a broker.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021 JAMES CHEE
Mascot, NSW / Ding Financial
Broadbeach, Qld / Loan Market
As Ding Financial’s sole broker, James Chee looks after all aspects of the business, from prospecting leads to settlements, its web site and social media marketing. He even records a podcast featuring insights from BDMs, aggregators and business experts. Since becoming a broker in July 2019, Chee has helped clients through bushfires, floods, dust storms and historic interest rate cuts, but he sees the positives in the challenges. “One of the benefits that came out of all this is how our industry, as a whole, united through these hardships – competitor beside competitor – working tirelessly to achieve a common goal of ensuring that our customers were well looked after,” he says. “Amidst all the chaos, the past year has really paved the way for future business.” Heather Gallagher, state manager at outsource financial, says she could not think of a more deserving nominee for this year’s Young Guns. “James has joined the broking industry with some of the most complicated deals a new broker could have, and he has navigated the complex process superbly,” Gallagher says. “He has taken the time to understand his lender partners and fostered strong relationships with those in the complex space of alt-doc lending. The feedback I get from the lenders is that he is bright and dedicated, and they’re usually surprised to hear he is new to the industry.”
In her first 12 months as a broker, Alyssa Russo has “lived and breathed” her role, and her dedication has paid off as she celebrates her success off the back of a turbulent year. Andrew Thompson, Loan Market Queensland’s state director, says it’s been amazing to see Russo do so well as a broker at Ray White Broadbeach. “Alyssa is the ultimate professional who always puts her customers first and strives to achieve their best interests,” Thompson says. Russo spent almost 15 years in banking but made the switch to broking after becoming frustrated with having such a small number of loan products to offer and being limited by credit policy. She says one of the best things about her role and journey over the past year has been her relationships with clients. “I love the interaction that I have with my clients and the relationship I develop with them throughout the process,” Russo says. “It’s exciting to be a part of their homebuying journey, which is a huge deal for most people.” While broking during COVID-19 has been “hectic”, Russo says it has provided amazing training for the job, and she is lucky to be on the Gold Coast where the property market has stayed strong.
NUMBER OF BROKERS RECRUITED PER PERIOD, BY GENDER Apr 15– Sep 15
Oct 15– Mar 16
Apr 16– Sep 16
Oct 16– Mar 17
Apr 17– Sep 17
Oct 17– Mar 18
Apr 18– Sep 18
Oct 18– Mar 19
Apr 19– Sep 19
Oct 19– Mar 20
Number of men recruited during period
Number of women recruited during period
Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service, 10th Edition
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
AKHILESH BHATIA Clayton, Vic / Home Loans Fast $30,167,040
After 10 years working in a secure banking job, Akhilesh Bhatia decided to “bet on himself” and became a broker in October 2019. He had been feeling limited in terms of what he could offer through the bank and felt that broking would give him the autonomy he needed to work in the best interest of his clients. While some people thought he was crazy, given the fact that he had a young family, Bhatia’s approach to customers – seeing them as more than just a number – led to him
writing more than $30m in his first year. “My bigger vision has always been to educate people about finances,” he says. “I think there is a huge need for people to get on top of their finances as their lack of knowledge can be the cause of great hardship and stress. I became a broker to help my clients solve their financial challenges and to educate them along the way.” Timothy Schneider, partnership manager Victoria at Choice Aggregation Services, says
Bathia has displayed exceptional courage and resilience over the past year. “Akhilesh’s professionalism and previous banking expertise managing commercial clients means he is able to deliver solutions where most brokers are unable to,” he says. “Despite being a newcomer in this industry, he has built a solid network of referrers, used technology to help his clients, and also gained the respect of myself and fellow members of the industry.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
South Melbourne, Vic / Choice Capital
Erina, NSW / Mortgage Choice in Erina
Coorparoo, Qld / Fit Finance
While many people see the last year as one filled with challenges and difficulties, Christine Marie says something the COVID-19 experience has taught her is that she loves being a mortgage broker. “There is nothing better than making the call on settlement day and getting a heartfelt thank you, Google review or referral to one of the people they care most about. It makes every tough day in the office worth it,” Marie says. As one of just seven women on this year’s list, Marie has experienced what it is like to be a woman in the industry, but she says she is really seeing things change. “As a younger female, I’m often told, ‘You don’t look like a mortgage broker’; however, from the networking events I’ve been to it’s great to see that it’s becoming a more diverse industry,” she says. Gabriela Pivato, lending team leader at Choice Capital, says of Marie: “Her product and process knowledge are way beyond her years in the role, and she is always going out of her way to help me and the team.”
Luke Whitbread joined Mortgage Choice as a broker in 2019 with little finance knowledge but “plenty of enthusiasm”, and has since seen great success: he spent his first year writing an average of $3m in loans per month. Having become accredited just a month after the royal commission’s final report was released, Whitbread had to spend his first few months in the business wondering whether he would still have a job after the May election. A year later that uncertainty no longer existed, but the pandemic presented new uncertainty. “It certainly was a shock and worrying when this happened, especially with how quick the lockdowns came into effect, but it is just part of business, so we just adapted,” he says. Whitbread has built strong networks on the NSW Central Coast, and he cares not just about writing the loan but also about providing his clients with financial assistance to support their wealth creation and other financial needs. Mortgage Choice’s David Ewans says that while Whitbread’s maths ability made the calculations easy, his drive and willingness to learn have seen him develop into an excellent and successful broker. “As I have passed over clients in becoming more of a mentor/manager, the feedback I have received in regard to Luke’s service to them has been nothing short of exceptional,” Ewans says.
Boasting a strong passion for the finance industry, Chris Paraskevas loves seeing his clients succeed and achieve their goals. With a focus on providing a complete financial solution, he offers home loans, commercial finance, vehicle and equipment finance and cash flow solutions. “In this industry it is extremely important to continue to learn and have a diverse offering for your clients,” he says. Connective’s broker support manager Zorica Grubic says Paraskevas is passionate about helping his clients with effective finance solutions. “His settlement success story in such a short time frame is testimony to his strong business acumen and mantra of always understanding his customer needs first and working to provide quality finance outcomes to match those business needs,” she says. “He is a trusted, knowledgeable adviser and a much-respected commercial and residential broker at Connective.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
GRANT ARBUCKLE Melbourne, Vic / GA Finance Solutions Australia $36,086,943
Being a strong communicator and good with numbers, Grant Arbuckle wanted to go into a line of work that could incorporate both: broking was the perfect solution that allowed him to not only use his strengths but also to help others. “The thrill of supporting a first home buyer with their purchase or helping reduce someone’s monthly expenses considerably is what gets me out of bed each day,” he says. For a new business, COVID-19 presented several challenges, one of which was the new
office space Arbuckle had recently committed to that he was no longer able to use. But while much of the property market slowed and investors pulled back, he says he embraced the increased demand for refinancing. “Personally, I have always been one to accept challenges and adapt to changes,” he says. “I also feel that if we cannot adapt to a changing economy then we will always find ourselves falling behind. “I used this year as a great opportunity to move much of our loan process to digital,
which although it has its own limitations still meant we could finance as a high-performing broking team remotely.” Technology has also been a huge driver of Arbuckle’s success over the past year. “Incorporating as much technology into our processes [as possible] has not only meant a more streamlined and enjoyable process for clients but also ensures we can be spending more time focusing on the important tasks within our day-to-day than on lengthy administration tasks,” he says.
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YOUNG GUNS 2021 MITCH MCINTYRE
Chermside, Qld / McIntyre Finance
North Melbourne, Vic / Empower Wealth Mortgage Advisory
Mitch McIntyre’s impressive figures have not only landed him in the 2021 Young Guns list but mean he also ranks among Finsure’s top five brokers in Queensland. State business manager Paul Gollan describes this Young Gun as “dynamic, innovative and fearless”. He says, “In what has been an extraordinary year for the mortgage broking industry, what Mitch has achieved is inspiring and has set him on the path to great things.” McIntyre set up his own business after finding the courage to leave his mobile banking job at a big four bank. “I had a vision of establishing a broker group that would service every area of finance and help anyone, with a focus on great customer service and building ongoing relationships,” he says. COVID-19 hit just as McIntyre hired two new staff and felt like he was getting into a good rhythm. He says it was hard to train staff and work with a brand-new team when they were all working from home for six weeks, but they got through it, and he knew they just had to “buckle down and work harder”. “In the beginning we lost quite a lot of business due to clients losing jobs after approval, or bank policy changes,” he says. “We just kept working through all of that and ended up building a good pipeline of business, with September being our best settlement month all year.”
Having moved from the hospitality industry to a bank branch and then into financial crime services as an identity fraud advisor before joining the broking industry, Luke Oxenham is used to learning new things. He became a broker in October 2019 after an old colleague made the move into the industry; it was the combination of problem-solving and being able to interact face-to-face with clients that resonated with him. While 2020 meant he lost most of that face-to-face interaction, Oxenham says he has remained focused and organised in order to achieve the levels of success he has seen in his first year in broking. One thing that was a particular challenge, however, was having to work away from the team at Empower Wealth. “I feel that during the early months of COVID it was very easy to feel like I was in a silo doing my own thing, and there were moments when I had to remind myself to take a step back and reconnect with everyone as it’s easy to get inside your own head when you’re working from home,” he says. Empower Wealth’s head of mortgage broking, Ben Magnus, says, “I have been amazed at his approach to driving positive customer outcomes and supporting his clients through the biggest financial decision of their lives, whilst in the middle of a pandemic.”
PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MORE BROKERS Nationwide, there are currently more than 1,500 Australians per mortgage broker. With broker market share increasing to more than 60% in the September 2020 quarter, it is clear there are plenty of opportunities for more brokers to enter the industry and fill the gap, particularly in the NT and Tasmania, where there’s a ratio of one broker to 4,000-plus Australians.
Number of Australians per mortgage broker by state (based on ABS’s Estimated Resident Population, December 2019)
4,000 3,000 2,000
NSW and ACT
1,000 0 Qld
Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service, 10th Edition
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YOUNG GUNS 2021 JOEL CROSS
Woolloomooloo, NSW / Unconditional Finance
West Melbourne, Vic / Inovayt Finance
The top tip from Young Gun Joel Cross to any would-be broker is that you don’t need to have a background in finance. Cross is an example of that, having joined the industry from a career as a marine technician in the Navy. Knowing that he did not want to spend the rest of his life covered in oil and dirt and away from home for eight months of the year, he followed in his father’s footsteps and decided to go into broking. While many new brokers without a finance background could have been thrown by all the changes to regulations and the challenges of COVID-19, Cross has thrived. He puts this down to understanding his target market of defence personnel and property investors, which he says makes him approachable. “Also, coming into the industry at a time when there is more regulation than ever, I believe is a bit of a blessing,” Cross says. “I’m seeing old-school brokers struggle with the change, whereas this is all I know. Broking can be frustrating, but keeping a cool head and being adaptable makes life a whole lot easier.” Chris Raymond, principal at Unconditional Finance, says Cross has absorbed everything he has heard and has been able to put it into practice much faster than expected. “His customers love him, and he has received multiple great reviews from clients and referral partners,” Raymond adds. “He is hard-working and focused, with great attention to detail; he has also shown fantastic leadership skills with new staff and trainees.”
Ben Robinson loves being able to financially empower his clients, whether he is helping them buy a home or investment property, or find ways to save money. “I look to gain a real understanding of the client’s goals and objectives so I can act on their immediate need and expand upon the conversation to support them with a strategy for the future,” he says. While COVID-19 threw off many people’s plans for 2020, he says it has actually had some benefits, with a lot of brokers “seizing the opportunity to take their business to the next level”. Robinson himself made sure to enhance his presence through online resources and social media, using them to provide regular updates, articles and information. “Don’t get me wrong; it has been tough not being able to meet clients face-to-face and helping coach the older generation to use the technology required to bridge e-meetings, but I remain [certain] that the pandemic has really sharpened up the industry,” he says. Martin Vidakovic, business and broker development manager at Inovayt Finance, says he has never seen a young broker with so much talent. “His understanding and ability to learn quickly and apply his learning sets him apart from any new entrant I have witnessed or mentored,” Vidakovic says. “His personal focus, structures and disciplines allow him to gain the most from his time, achieve excellent results, and his clients love him, giving him the most Google reviews of the team and regular positive feedback.”
DROP IN NUMBER OF FEMALE BROKERS In this year’s Young Guns list there are seven women in a total of 25 brokers, a drop of three from last year. The number is still higher than the two female brokers who made the list in 2019, but with the proportion of female brokers dropping to below 27% in the March 2020 quarter, there is a worrying trend overall.
Number and proportion of female brokers in the industry
4,000 3,500 3,000
Oct 15Mar 16
Apr 16Sep 16
Oct 16Mar 17
Apr 17Sep 17
Oct 17Mar 18
Apr 18Sep 18
Oct 18Mar 19
Apr 19Sep 19
Oct 19Mar 20
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
WENDI MA North Sydney, NSW / XIN Mortgage $41,015,132
Wendi Ma joined XIN Mortgage as a broker support officer when she left university and became a full-time broker in February 2019. Having become familiar with the various types of loan applications and customers in her earlier role, she was able to jump straight in to achieve the figures she has written in the last year. Ma works closely with referral partners like real estate agents and accountants and also builds strong customer relationships in order to get word-of-mouth referrals; more than 50% of her business comes from referrals.
One of the things Ma says she loves about being a broker is how different each day is. “All clients are different, which means brokers are working across a unique variety of situations and finding the right solution,” she says. “It makes me motivated learning new things during the process.” While COVID-19 changed the way business was done, Ma says it has rapidly accelerated digital transformation. She points out that lenders have altered their processes to allow for electronic transactions, which has
increased efficiency, and digital marketing has become really important. Ma puts her success down to offering great customer service, building a strong network, and, most importantly, having a good mentor in business owner William Xin. Describing this talented Young Gun, Xin says, “Wendi Ma is an exceptional young broker with outstanding enthusiasm and energy. Not only is Wendi’s volume impressive but so are her quality submissions, dedication to her clients and ability to engage with people.”
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YOUNG GUNS 2021
QINGXIA (CYNTHIA) XIE
South Melbourne, Vic / My Mortgage Freedom
Sydney, NSW / Mortgage Choice
Bondi Junction, NSW / IFA Mortgages & Finance
Customer service and building relationships are a strong passion for Cynthia Xie, who has the highest conversion rate of any of this year’s Young Guns. She spends time gaining an understanding of all her clients’ circumstances and needs so she can help them achieve their end goals, and this has led to several five-star reviews. My Mortgage Freedom director Sean Murphy says Xie joining the brokerage was one of the best things to ever happen to the business. “Cynthia’s passion, efficiency, professionalism and ability to build results where others couldn’t all come naturally to her,” Murphy says. “She is always making sure she and her team are becoming more effective and able to do more, whilst maintaining an easy-going and calm mindset. “Coupled with one of the most infectious senses of humour, it creates the perfect fit for our company, and she is able to thrive by being part of our team. Cynthia’s future in finance and lending is just getting started with some of the most outstanding second-year figures we have ever seen.”
After working as a client relationships manager for six years, Ryan Pappas took over the Mortgage Choice franchise in January 2020 and began writing loans for the first time. Aside from COVID-19, his biggest challenges as a new broker have been working through leads and managing his time well. With no support staff, this was a crucial thing he had to learn quickly, on top of implementing new systems. Having achieved the second-highest loan value in the list this year, Pappas says this was down to making the process easy for clients and “not bombing them with jargon”. He explains that he has taken a very hands-on approach to education and asking for referrals. In offering some advice to other people looking to join the industry, Pappas says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day; you need to invest your time in the business and not get bogged down by lenders or other brokers. Your biggest competitor is the one staring at you in the mirror.”
Another Young Gun who started out with plans for a very different career is IFA Mortgages & Finance broker Fletcher Rowe. It was while studying physiotherapy at university that he began working part-time at the brokerage, and by the time his degree was finished he was offered a full-time role. Four weeks after Rowe began broking, the final report of the royal commission was released, but once the initial anxieties subsided and brokers were clearer on what would happen, Rowe could see how much more resilient the industry would become. Having worked and thrived through the impacts of both the royal commission and COVID-19, Rowe believes that opportunity can come out of adversity. “It’s a crazy time to be starting out, with regulation and red tape increasing and a whole lot of uncertainty all around us, but at the same time this presents a terrific opportunity to separate yourself from the pack,” he says. Rowe adds that it is an honour to be part of the Young Guns list for 2021, having seen some “true industry leaders” graduate from this list in the past.
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SECTOR FOCUS: NEAR PRIME
A brighter path to homeownership With the economic and employment impacts of COVID-19, many Australians are finding that they no longer meet the banks’ acceptance criteria, and non-banks are stepping up to the plate as brokers look for alternative solutions THE IMPORTANCE of near prime lending has become increasingly clear over the last few years, but the effects of the global pandemic may have highlighted it even more. Many Australians, alongside much of the rest of the world, have experienced job losses, salary cuts and business shutdowns during COVID-19. As banks and non-banks rushed to help their customers with various relief packages at the onset of the pandemic, several had to pull back from new lending, and those that continued to lend did so with tighter scrutiny. ABS figures show that the unemployment rate rose to a high of 7.5% in July 2020. Even for those who continued in employment, the hours they worked dropped by more than 10% on average from March to May. There is a misconception that near prime lending is just for borrowers with impaired credit. However, many borrowers impacted by these reduced hours and job changes will benefit from such lending. La Trobe Financial chief lending officer Cory Bannister says that even those who won’t face an immediate credit impairment if they have lost their jobs – either because they are ahead on their repayments or have cash reserves – could end up outside the banks’ lending criteria.
“That sudden change to employment or a need to hold on to casual sources of income will mean they are probably determined to be near prime,” he says. “I think COVID-19 will see an increase in near prime customers and really underscore
been the persistent tightening of the bank acceptance criteria that has caused much confusion and uncertainty for borrowers and is in turn driving more business to brokers, which has been validating the broker-to-nonbank value proposition.”
“In helping more families achieve their goals of homeownership or just bettering the financial situation they find themselves in, near prime is key” Aaron Milburn, Pepper the need to service that segment of the market.” Over Bannister’s 21 years in the lending industry, he says that while there has been “plenty of change” – with the GFC and COVID-19 creating two critical credit events, and changes to regulations and lender policy – the fundamentals have remained the same. “We still look to the 5 C’s of lending: character, capital, capacity, collateral and conditions. We work through those, and if it makes sense, it’s a deal that we want to do,” he says. “More recently, though, the biggest trend in near prime lending has
Taking a real-life approach Pepper has also seen growing segments of the market turn to near prime loans as the traditional banks change their lending criteria. Aaron Milburn, general manager of mortgages and commercial lending at Pepper, says banks’ criteria don’t reflect “real life” in determining whether someone is eligible for a loan based on how they prove their income. The non-bank “pioneered” its near prime product in 2014 to cater for those customers who were unable to secure lending from the major banks, but Milburn says the market has
11/01/2021 12:25:27 PM
RISING MARKET SHARE OF NON-BANKS March 2020 quarter results showed an increase of 0.7 percentage points in the share of broker business going to non-banks, halting a trend of three consecutive quarters of decline in market share for the non-bank segment.
Value and market share of broker-originated business to non-bank lenders
Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- Jan- Apr- Jul- Oct- JanSep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar 2013 2013 2014 2014 2014 2014 2015 2015 2015 2015 2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 2018 2018 2019 2019 2019 2019 2020
Value of loans settled
Note: No data was available for July to September 2015 quarter Source: MFAA Industry Intelligence Service, 10th edition
not moved forward much further since then. “From the point of view of self-employed customers, near prime lending is the fastestgrowing sector in our industry – they simply cannot take advantage of the rates and promotions on offer from the major banks, given the way they verify their income,” Milburn says.
There are multiple reasons why borrowers need near prime loans. Broker at iChoice Maroun Ajaka says he deals with borrowers who have inconsistent income or growing businesses with tax returns or historic income that do not reflect the true situation; tax returns that are not up to date; defaults; shortterm self-employment; or the need for debt
consolidation and greater borrowing capacity. In the time that Ajaka has been writing near prime loans he has seen some good changes. He writes deals with Pepper, which he says provides a “continually evolving matrix” to identify whether a client qualifies for near prime. Not only that but he says customers are much more aware of the near prime
11/01/2021 12:25:36 PM
SECTOR FOCUS: NEAR PRIME
solution now than they were before. “Over time my clients have become more educated on the product via communication with me and past applications we have lodged for them and their families,” he says. “They now come to me and say, ‘Can we do this as an alt-doc?’, whereas previously it was always me making the suggestion.” It also helps that interest rates are at an all-time low. “Although rates across the board are low, we never would have guessed two years ago that we could offer alt-doc/near prime rates under 4%,” Ajaka says.
Helping near prime borrowers access finance As customers become more aware of the option of near prime loans, brokers should also be more comfortable in offering them as a solution. At this time of uncertainty and stress due to COVID-19, Bannister says there will be opportunities for brokers to step in and forge strong relationships with borrowers. “People never forget those who help them or stand by them in their time of need, and near prime borrowers fit that mode extremely well,” he says. Bannister says brokers with near prime customers should follow five key steps. “The first would be to listen carefully and keep an open mind; there is always a solution that can be found,” he explains. “Secondly, ask for the whole truth from the borrowers about their financial objectives and positions; it enables us to help tailor the solution. “Third, complete your reasonableness tests on standard income and expenditure. Get that done early, making sure that what the customer has stated is reasonable for their age, their sector, their industry and their time of employment, etc. “Then educate clients about their options, both now and in the future. If they are a little bit doubtful, you need to talk to them about
BROKER PERSPECTIVE Speaking about his first time writing a near prime loan, iChoice broker Maroun Ajaka says it was an unexpectedly smooth process and outcome. After experiencing banks “picking on the little things”, he thought it would be the same at Pepper. “My first near prime deal was totally different and refreshing,” he says. “It reminded me of banking when I first started, when there was no such thing as credit scoring, and policies were not so complicated. Pepper used a rational approach to assessing the application: they actually think and do not rely on a computer system. They look at the big picture and provide a genuine solution.”
earn their income differently to someone who is employed by an institution or a company does not mean that they are a heightened risk or that they don’t deserve to achieve the goal of homeownership,” he says. Milburn says near prime has been a cornerstone product for the non-bank since 2014 and will continue to be important for Pepper in 2021 and beyond. “In helping more families achieve their goals of homeownership or just bettering the financial situation they find themselves in, near prime is key,” he says.
Looking ahead at 2021 Expecting the year ahead to be “interesting”, Bannister says the recovery will probably be non-linear, with reverberations felt throughout the economy over the next two to three years. “We think there is a strong possibility the near prime proposition will be further increased as borrowers have been directly
“People never forget those who help them or stand by them in their time of need, and near prime borrowers fit that mode extremely well” Cory Bannister, La Trobe Financial the longer journey: the near prime offering might be a point in time or a path to a more mainstream future. “Lastly, speak to the lender early in the process and run scenarios by them and get some confidence around the transaction before you lodge it.” While there is still some trepidation among brokers around near prime lending, Milburn reassures them that borrowers who are self-employed are no more at risk than PAYG customers, even though some lenders may deem them to be. “Just because a customer proves how they
or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic already and the impacts will continue to emerge over time, post government assistance and stimulus,” he says. “Where we anticipate some potential problems is in what happens down the line. It may be in October 2021 or November 2021 that a borrower actually has a credit issue that stems from a change as a result of COVID-19. How are lenders going to deal with those particular delayed impacts of COVID-19? That’s where I think non-bank financial institutions and brokers are terrifically positioned to handle that.”
11/01/2021 12:25:49 PM
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11/01/2021 1:43:27 PM
Unleash team creativity to boost mood and ideas There are four big blockers to being creative, but author Nathan Baird shares a few tips for how to overcome them so your work can be as fulfilling as possible
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WITHOUT CREATIVITY there are no ideas, and without ideas organisations and the people within them will stagnate and neither will reach any sort of fulfilment. We spend so much of our lives at work that we want our work to be as fulfilling as possible. Creativity plays a key role in providing this fulfilment. And it goes without saying that we need creativity right now to design and innovate our way out of COVID-19 and stagnation. We also know from the author of Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that human beings are at their happiest (in flow, or ‘the zone’) when they are creating. People actually long to express their creativity, and when we can’t we’re more likely to feel disengaged, become unproductive and even feel depressed. So, how do you unleash your team’s creativity to be in flow more often and increase engage-
ideas are still just seedlings and aren’t ready for judging. We need to build on them further before we can confidently judge which are the good or bad ideas. When you are working in the creative phase you need to ask everyone to suspend their typical business-world behaviours and take these steps to promote creativity: • • •
Suspend your judgment so you can then… understand each other’s ideas, in order to… build on each other’s ideas to come up with more breakthrough solutions.
Creativity Blocker 2: The brain Most of us naturally think in a linear and analytical way. This is because the
It goes without saying that we need creativity right now to design and innovate our way out of COVID-19 and stagnation ment, productivity, ideas and happiness? What helps is recognising the key blockers to creativity and how to overcome them. Four of the biggest blockers to individual and team creativity are behaviours, the brain, state and space. Let’s take a look at this in more detail:
Creativity Blocker 1: Behaviours Our everyday business behaviour is not conducive to creativity. It’s been refined over the years to help us in a fast-paced world in which swift analysis and making fast decisions based on sound evidence is king. It involves elements of criticism and relies on critical reasoning skills when we are assessing one idea or recommendation versus another. It’s not that this approach is wrong; it’s just not right for creativity. In the early stages of the creative process,
brain is a massive self-organising storage device, like all the folders on your desktop or shared drive. It’s a place where logic presides. When you ask your brain to think of an idea, say a new type of taxi service, then it immediately goes into its file on taxis. And what does it find in there? All the experiences you’ve had with regard to taxis. And none of it is new thinking. What you have to do is trick your brain to go to a different file and find some different stimulus to inspire new ideas. For example, you could come up with new ideas by ‘breaking the rules’ and challenging the status quo of the taxi industry. One ‘rule’ for the taxi industry used to be that you had to wait outside your location until the taxi arrived. Uber broke this rule through the development of an ETA tracking device on its app. Right now we are having to break the rules of working, collaboration,
distributing our goods and services, and in some cases even our entire business models.
Creativity Blocker 3: State If your state feels stuck, then ideas are impossible. During COVID-19, how we are feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually is very important. Some of us are feeling more in flow working from home, while others are not due to lack of socialisation and face-to-face collaboration. The key to changing your state is moving. Not only does physical activity promote feelgood endorphins but it jolts our mind from its customary groove, and a walk outdoors can also inject some freshness and stimulate new ideas. We can take this further by being really playful and encouraging self-expression, which opens up our creative minds, giving us access to our own creative genius.
Creativity Blocker 4: Space One of the biggest triggers of our state and creativity is the environment or space we are in. Many of our workplaces, including our work-from-home set-ups, are designed for meetings and getting stuff done rather than being creative. It is important that we have spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration in all our flexi-working environments (both physical and virtual). A space for creativity is one in which you can be yourself, get away from day-to-day distractions and noise, be inspired and become totally engrossed in the work you are doing. It could be a quiet room in your house or a local cafe. Right now, creativity is really important. It will not only help organisations come out of COVID-19 in a better shape but also boost team productivity and happiness.
Nathan Baird is the founder of customer-driven innovation and growth firm Methodry and author of Innovator’s Playbook: How to Create Great Products, Services and Experiences that your Customers will Love.
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11/01/2021 6:55:09 AM
Training your team for success When onboarding and training new staff, it is vital to communicate the business’s values upfront. Mark Carter explains how employers can embed their values to plant the seeds of success
TRAINING NEW employees on the values of the business early on is becoming more important to overall success. Studies by Nielsen and Engage for Good highlight that the values and social responsibility of a company are a core consideration for both customers and staff, especially for over 70% of millennials, as they are among the criteria they use when electing who to work for. There are two questions worth considering: • How do we embed the business’s values in new employees during onboarding? • How can we drive values with more consistency? As many who work in learning, development, training or HR will appreciate, values are an important component of any staff induction program. Planting strong seeds at this point is essential. A key shift in learning over the last couple of decades has been the increased move towards individual learning pathways. The same principle applies here. Once you can wrap your head around the five core elements of values and value perception, you can tailor onboarding and individual learning pathways accordingly.
The five value elements
Personal value is the essence of
why individual learning has so much merit. The way people learn, their particular strengths, their Achilles heels, their motivation and personal circumstances play a significant part in their interpretation and application
Tangible value is the value
language of business. Every company leader has days of joy, or sometimes stress, as they digest spreadsheets of results. And every leader in the world knows, even subconsciously, that there are only four tangible value metrics to be aware of. Often, however, we get so focused on the results we need to achieve that we forget to
We often get so focused on the results we need to achieve that we forget to realise – or translate this into – what’s more important to the individual of any ideologies you wish to see espoused in your business. Take time to ask questions (a skill that applies both in sales and coaching) about what’s truly important to each individual. When you know their motivations and goals, you can adapt your language, even rewards, to align with them. Profiling tools (such as DISC, MBTI, etc) may be exceptionally handy as a component of this but are by no means necessary.
realise – or translate this into – what’s more important to the individual. A classic example is the misconception that all salespeople are only interested in money. When reviewing business reports, learn to ask better questions and figure out which metrics are important to each team member.
Emotional value is like a sprinkling of magical fairy dust. We are all emotional beings. In fact,
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global consumers would pay more for sustainable brands and 73% of millennials would pay extra for the same. The same results are seen in a survey of millennial employees. Engage for Good cited the following figures for 2019. • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut for a business with solid CSR • 76% would take it into consideration when choosing an employer • 88% felt more fulfilled when their work made a positive social impact Communicate to employees the positive, long-term, thought-out possibilities of your business values that enrich the lives of others and respect the community and environment.
Daniel Kahneman (behavioural economist, psychologist and Nobel Prize 2002 winner)
Instagram-perfect business snapshot fit in – along with CSR (corporate social respon-
Create a culture of authenticity, candour, kindness and love, which leads to a culture that taps the magic ingredient of ‘discretionary effort’ proved how much of our decision-making happens at an intuitive, emotional level. In my own TEDx talk I share a quick twominute example to demonstrate how much emotions shift perceptions. Storytelling, sensory engagement, personalisation and unique experiences are your toolkit here. So look for ways to bring values to life through personalised stories and sensory submersion. This is where the soft, fun touches often associated with the
sibility) initiatives. Which leads us nicely into the importance of service value.
Service value. The next genera-
tion of employees (even customers) is noted for being more concerned about the impact of their employers (and providers) than ever before. Service value is something you now ignore at your peril. The 2015 Nielson Global Corporate Sustainability Report found that 66% of
Relationship value is the ace
card. The 80-year (and still going) Harvard study of adult development has revealed that the secret to fulfilment lies in the quality of your relationships. Harmony in the workplace is far better than back-door politics or furore. Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) articulated well that the “biggest dirty little secret in business” is a lack of candour. Create a culture of authenticity, candour, kindness and love, which leads to a culture that taps the magic ingredient of ‘discretionary effort’. Your people love what they are doing and contributing to, and love being part of the crew. Tapping into all these ideas helps fill the value buckets as part of a roadmap to bringing those words on a poster (or short statements painted in wonderful brand colours on a wall) to life!
Mark Carter is the author of Add Value, published by Wiley. He is an international keynote speaker, trainer and coach with over 20 years’ experience as a global learning and development professional.
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Start trusting your team
supposedly getting in the way. While the description isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s far from being accurate. Afterwards, when we interview the broader team, we get to listen to the other side of the story. Both stories are right and wrong at the same time. Driving change is not about taking sides; it’s a collective experience. Don’t expect people to change if your rules stay the same. Addressing this gap with my clients, I’ve come to a simple realisation. Most senior executives believe they are good at delegating their people doesn’t allow them to grow. and inspiring people based on a different There’s a tension that keeps repeating over standard – a paternalist leadership style they and over – when things don’t go well, there’s learned from their bosses decades ago. a tendency to blame it on ‘the people’. I help But delegation and freedom aren’t what organisations build cultures of change; to they used to be. Today’s environment requires become more experimental, innovative and removing the boundaries between leaders adaptive. When I kick off a project, I receive and ‘the rest’. People expect a more transa brief from senior executives. Most of the parent, experimental and participatory time, the diagnosis focuses on how their culture. Leadership is about co-creation: teams are not performing as they should. The people want to be active contributors, not company is trying to push change forward, just passive implementers. Your team want to but people’s behaviours and mindsets are be treated as equals, not as kids.
If you want your team to be successful, you have to stop treating them like kids, writes Gustavo Razzetti LEADING IS like parenting – everybody thinks they do a better job than they actually do. There’s a definite gap between how most executives assess themselves and how their direct reports see them. Leaders and their teams seem to be watching two different movies. Organisations want employees to become more mature and accountable, and to drive change, yet their policies and rules treat people like kids. Without realising it, many executives act like helicopter bosses: they have good intentions, but their need to control and protect
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Stop planning, start experimenting We live in an uncertain, volatile and fastchanging era. However, most senior executives were trained to manage organisations in a predictable world. Most companies keep thinking on annual cycles. Annual planning, employee performance reviews and promotions, to name a few, are based on a 12-month period. We need to become better at adapting rather than anticipating. As Susan Peters, GE’s head of human resources, put it: “The world isn’t really on an annual cycle anymore for anything.” The same applies to organisational structures or policies. They were written when things were supposedly predictable – organisations wanted to control how things should be done. That model operated under the assumption that leaders knew better. They were in charge of making strategic decisions and then persuading others to follow. However, a top-down approach is ineffective. Every person in a team is a sensor. They can detect problems and opportunities; every member can develop new ideas, information or ways to operate. The future is uncertain. Modern leaders must be humble and vulnerable enough to admit that they don’t have all the answers,
Five ways to start treating people like adults Here are some ways to unleash the leaders within your team by treating them as such. These are not meant to be comprehensive or perfect, but rather to get you started.
Create rules that enable rather than forbid
Most companies have rules that are based on a command-and-control mentality that began with the Industrial Revolution, when managers had to supervise staff to ensure that people showed up, did their jobs and followed the policies. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t promote trust. Rules control how and what people should do, instead of enabling them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company. Also, corporate rules tend to be one-way. Employees are supposed to clock in and out but are expected to reply to work emails during the weekend. Netflix’s unlimited vacation policy is the opposite – rather than tracking time, it focuses on performance. When a culture is built around accountability, people behave like adults; there’s no need to cheat.
Rules control how and what people should do, instead of enabling them to act freely and do what they believe is best for the company and they certainly can’t predict what will happen tomorrow. Rather than being stuck in ‘best practices’, organisations need to promote an experimental mindset. Rules and processes must be constantly challenged and improved. We must stop treating people like children and let them actively participate, design and influence how the company operates. Your team needs more room to experiment, make mistakes, adapt and evolve.
Delegate decision-making rather than tasks
I have yet to hear a senior executive acknowledge that they are not good at delegating. The problem is that they task people with managing projects but don’t delegate decision-making. No matter how empowered a team is, in the end they always need their boss’s approval. Real delegation includes full accountability for both actions and repercussions. You
can start by encouraging your team to make decisions in small doses. Safe-to-try decisions are an excellent contribution from Holacracy, a self-management system. It moves teams into action rather than waiting for the perfect solution or for the boss to chime in. Think of safe-to-try as a litmus test. To accept or reject a proposal, there are two questions the team should consider: • Will this decision move the team backward? • Will the proposal, if implemented, cause harm that cannot be mitigated promptly? There’s always time to course-correct. Let the team adjust its path based on actual feedback instead of hypothesis based on fear or anticipation.
Trust people’s criteria over the process
Organisations that prioritise processes over results end up encouraging politics rather than accountability. Zappos gives its employees freedom to follow their own criteria versus telling them what’s right or wrong. An employee can send a new pair of shoes free of charge to a bride whose shoes never showed up without asking anyone for permission. Solving the client’s problem is priority number one – employees use their best judgment rather than following a rigid process. Do you encourage your team to follow or break the rules? What is most important? To get the job done or to follow the process? Rules shouldn’t limit your team’s ability to perform their jobs. Breaking rules isn’t bad when it’s done with a purpose.
Encourage failure rather than protectionism
Helicopter bosses aren’t just micromanagers; they tend to be overprotective, too. By trying to protect the team from getting hurt, they can cause more damage. Teams need to make mistakes to learn and grow. At Nixon McInnes, a social media
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company, the Church of Fail is a monthly ritual. Employees are invited to stand and confess their mistakes and are wildly applauded for doing so. Does your organisation punish mistakes or encourage people to learn from them? Embracing mistakes promotes transpar-
give of their best. However, more than three quarters of workers believe their bosses don’t motivate them to unleash their true potential. Most senior managers tend to define the path rather than letting their team members find the solution. They provide unsolicited
Freedom drives accountability. Contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are ency and experimentation. Everyone makes mistakes; publicly acknowledging them ensures that people can learn from them and that others won’t make the same one. Also, mistakes are a means to an end – action is always better than inaction.
Provide challenges instead of direction
People want to be challenged so they can
advice instead of challenging people with questions. When work is organised around projects, people’s responsibilities become repetitive and predictable, thus decreasing excitement and engagement. Assign challenges rather than tasks. It’s more interesting to be in charge of “How can we inspire and educate our clients?” than to be the monthly newsletter manager. A challenge invites people to improve their
game, not just to continue playing the same way. Leadership requires a new standard. Invite your team to co-create how your organisation works and operates. Encourage people to experiment and fail, to break the rules with a purpose, to make decisions, and to prioritise results over processes. Freedom drives accountability. Contrary to popular belief, the more freedom people get, the more engaged and committed they are. Your team is made up of responsible adults who should be trusted. They don’t need to be controlled. What you give is what you get.
Gustavo Razzetti is the CEO of Liberationist, a change leadership consultancy that helps organisations become more innovative. He is also a keynote speaker and the author of Stretch for Change and Stretch Your Mind. For more information, visit liberationist.org.
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12/01/2021 8:18:07 AM
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Why good staff can behave badly Poor employee behaviours can have a negative impact on businesses. Zoë Routh explains what triggers these behaviours and how to avoid them
Loss of power In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink lists three factors that make work engaging: autonomy, purpose and mastery. When someone makes a decision that affects us, and we had no involvement in the process, this can prompt a defensive reaction. Our autonomy is compromised. We can become argumentative, critical and negative. Leaders need to be mindful and explicit in making and communicating decisions. Being as inclusive and consultative as possible can help decrease employees’ sense of powerlessness. Transparency in decisionmaking can reduce criticism, even if the decision itself is difficult.
Loss of position POOR EMPLOYEE behaviour has a huge cost to a business. Behaviours deemed ‘toxic’ include ostracism, incivility, harassment and bullying. These can lead to workplace burnout, a condition officially identified in 2019 by the World Health Organization as an “occupational phenomenon”. Workplaces are causing employees harm, and the problem is pervasive. The effect of this extends to organisational results. As one of the toxic behaviours, ‘incivility’ includes insults, rudeness and teasing. In a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, the impact of incivility resulted in the following (Porath and Person, 2013):
• 48% intentionally decreased their work effort • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
• 66% said their performance had declined • 78% said their commitment to the organisation had declined • 12% said they had left their job because of the uncivil treatment • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers Additional poor behaviours range from turf wars and silos to emotional ranting, backbiting and white-anting. The intent is not always malicious. Poor behaviour sometimes occurs due to thoughtlessness or a lack of self-awareness. What causes good humans to behave badly? There are four key triggers that activate problematic behaviour. The overarching theme is fear of loss. Our primal animal response is wired to avoid deprivation: we experience it as a survival threat. Just watch a toddler act up when you take away a toy they had been ignoring all morning. The object suddenly becomes the most coveted item in the room. We don’t want to lose anything, no matter how inconsequential.
Humans are social creatures. Over the millennia of our existence, we’ve formed collaborative societies in which individuals have specific responsibilities. Many of these are hierarchical communities that reward responsibility with status and privilege. In workplaces, these symbols include job titles, parking spaces, office size, and deference to one’s expertise and experience. A threat to our position in the group, whether perceived or real, activates a primal emotional response. Ever been in a meeting where your expertise was dismissed or glossed over? The rise of red-faced anger is often the result. Emotional ranting can follow, as can vengeful backbiting and resentment. How we recognise and appreciate individuals and teams is critical to avoiding sensitive responses. When we reassure others that they are valued and appreciated, it helps keep tempers even. Leaders need to be mindful of status symbols and what is prized by individuals. Not everyone values a parking space, but it’s treasured by those who do.
Loss of performance As Pink explains, being able to master a skill or role is critical to our sense of job
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satisfaction. Too many commitments can threaten our ability to perform. When an individual feels overwhelmed, they will put
performance? Silos are often a symptom of being overwhelmed rather than of deliberate selfishness.
Leaders need to be mindful and explicit in making and communicating decisions. Being as inclusive and consultative as possible can help decrease employees’ sense of powerlessness their head down and retreat to their silo. Collaboration ceases, communication stagnates. This will frustrate others who are dependent on their interaction. Leaders need to be mindful of their delegation and coaching strategies. Does the employee have trouble saying no? Does the employee have a skills gap that is impeding
demeanour, further alienating us. One of the primary responsibilities of leaders is to create safety and a sense of belonging for team members. Simple rituals like weekly team meetings, acknowledging individuals, and occasional celebrations of milestones – both personal and professional – can go a long way towards galvanising team cohesion. Humans are sensitive. The more we become aware of what matters to us – power, position, place and performance – the easier it will be to plan workplace interactions that are uplifting rather than corrosive.
Loss of place Of all the triggers, loss of place and a sense of belonging are the most hurtful. We experience social exclusion as physical pain (Macdonald and Leary, 2005). We retreat into our shell and shut down to protect ourselves. We are sensitive and morose. Others may avoid us because of our unhappy
Zoë Routh is Australia’s leadership expert specialising in ‘people stuff’. She shows leaders and teams struggling with silos and office politics how to work better together. She is the author of People Stuff: Beyond Personality Problems – An Advanced Handbook for Leadership.
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The ultimate power couple in broking In just over four years since launching Atelier Wealth, Aaron and Bernadette Christie-David have had two children and gone from one success to the next. Here’s how they do it
THE PAST 12 months have been difficult for many, but the conditions have been perfect for brokers, say Atelier Wealth co-owners Aaron and Bernadette ChristieDavid. With clients online all the time, lenders embracing digital means, and the brokerage ensuring its own solid processes, business has been much smoother. When COVID-19 first hit, the ChristieDavids acknowledged that there was very little that could be controlled, but they made a promise to each other to use the experience as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. “I’m so proud to say that we grew as a team, and our business has thrived as a result. We are empathetic towards so many businesses that have been hit hard, so we know we are incredibly blessed to be busy in this environment,” says Aaron. The couple started their brokerage in 2016. Prior to this, Aaron’s background was in marketing; he worked previously at Commonwealth Bank and Wizard Home Loans, which gave him a unique insight into broking from a lender’s perspective. Bernadette worked as a cadet accountant and then in human resources at Cricket NSW
and Electrolux. Her knowledge of tax and accounting fit with her specialising in selfemployed lending at Atelier Wealth. As the couple started the brokerage during a property boom, they have seen a lot change over the last few years. Back then there was much less of an emphasis in the property market on living expenses, exit strategies and income shading. Aaron explains that with his focus on property investors he had great success as a number of his referral partners were in the investment property space, and interest-only lending was much easier. Looking through a mortgage broking lens, he says that while compliance has always been strong, regulations have become far more stringent, which has been great for the industry. “The pre-assessment vetting process with a number of lenders is a great way to ensure loan applications are in order before allocating to a credit manager, ensuring applications are verified and all documents correctly uploaded, which saves plenty of time,” he says. In today’s market, Aaron says the introduction of the best interests duty in tandem with the phasing out of responsible lending could
A GIFT OF HOME LOANS FOR THE HOMELESS In October 2019, Atelier Wealth launched a unique spin on settlement gifts with its Home Loans for the Homeless initiative. “As brokers, our focus is on financing roofs to go over families’ heads, and we reflected on ways to use this as an opportunity to have a bigger impact,” Aaron explains. “That’s when we came up with the concept of using our business to do more good, and we launched our bold initiative to give 10,000 nights of shelter to underprivileged families across the world. Each time a loan settles, we fund 30 nights of shelter for a family in need.”
put the broker in “a precarious position”. “I feel like we could be caught in the middle: we’ve got a responsibility to check and verify client data and also have a responsibility to the lender too,” he says. “By dialling down the bank’s responsible lending criteria and putting more accounta-
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ATELIER WEALTH IN BRIEF Founders: Aaron and Bernadette Christie-David Location: Sydney, NSW Year founded: 2016 Services offered: Loans for property investors, the self-employed, SMSF investors and first home buyers Number of employees: 7
“We are empathetic towards so many businesses that have been hit hard, so we know we are incredibly blessed to be busy in this environment” bility on the borrower, does this create more work for a broker? My gut feel is yes.” Atelier Wealth also recently won the Brokerage of the Year (1–5 Staff ) award at the 2020 Australian Mortgage Awards. Asked what was behind its success, Aaron says the brokerage sticks to its mantra,
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”. The team at Atelier Wealth set annual targets for settlement values and then work backwards on their conversions. “Breaking down our annual target to quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily, we
know what actions we need to take daily to achieve our yearly goal,” he says. “We do a weekly check-in call to see how we are performing to our target, and this means we’re all hyper-accountable for ensuring we’re on track week to week. As Atelier Wealth pushes into the next year to 18 months, there are three key priorities for the business. The first is to reduce rework: the team monitor their ‘more information required/ outstandings’ to ensure they minimise the number of times they go back to clients and improve their submission efficiency. Their second priority is the brokerage’s post-settlement service: they ensure they are proactive with loan reviews, lender retention strategies and have their ‘finger on the pulse’ when it comes to their clients’ 12- to 24-month financial goals. Atelier Wealth’s final priority is talent development: “It’s a war for talent out there,” Aaron says. He adds that he wants to develop his team to become specialists rather than generalists. “Seeing them become laser focused in their roles and responsibilities is our goal,” he says.
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Debbie Worthington’s first trip abroad
Number of continents she has travelled to
Number of countries she has visited
CIRCLING THE WORLD Passionate about travel, Mortgage Choice broker Debbie Worthington has visited all seven continents
“ I love photography a nd have been a ble to capture a lot over the years through travel”
HAVING LEARNT about so many different places and cultures in her early years, from school and television, Mortgage Choice broker Debbie Worthington used to feel almost claustrophobic growing up in a small Sydney suburb. As a teenager she dreamed of going abroad, and in 1988 she made her first trip to the UK, Europe and Egypt. That was when she set a goal to visit all seven continents, which she achieved in 2019. Worthington says she has only ever had one passion, and that is to travel. “The excitement of discovering new places, ancient history, art, architecture and wildlife was what I wanted,” she says. After travelling to 44 countries around the globe, she says it’s hard to pick a favourite, but some standouts were Borneo and the Galapagos for their wildlife, the USA for architecture, the Northern Lights in Finland, and the Terracotta Warriors in China. Her most recent trip was to Antarctica at the end of 2019. Stopping at various spots along the journey, Worthington saw whales, penguins, seals, icebergs and incredible scenery, and climbed glaciers and visited research stations before swapping the -15°c temperatures for 40°c in Buenos Aires and at Iguazu Falls. While 2020 stopped her from going very far, she says Africa and an Arctic cruise are high on her list when it’s possible to travel again.
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