Meet the Team Milestones: Happy 50th Deb
“Your relationship with your broker is a person not a business”
Meet Debbie! Anyone that has worked by her side would proclaim she’s an absolute gun mortgage broker and one of the most caring and passionate professionals you’ll ever meet. Today she turns the big 5-0 and to celebrate her amazing achievements and to wish her a very special day – we thought we’d ask her a few finance questions and help you get to know her a little better.
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Q. How did you get started in the finance industry?
A. How I became a mortgage broker? It just came from good experience, a love of numbers and love of people and really making that work for myself.
After spending the last eight years of an almost 20-year career in hospitality over in America, I returned home to Australia to get told by several recruiters that I was pretty much overqualified. I still scratch my head to this day because I don’t understand that. To me, it’s like, “You want to come and work for us? You’ve got all this experience. I’m going to seize the moment and take you on now and allow you to help us grow our team.” That’s my mindset, but anyway I found myself in an industry that just was obviously going through change and I wasn’t able to play in it anymore.
So, I broke it down and looked at what my key strengths were. We were obviously spending eight years out of America. We were a little outside the box with finance and lending when we came home and we had a really good experience with a broker. And I went, you know what? I love numbers. I love people. Surely, being a homeowner, this is something that I can learn and hone my skills to be able to put my best foot forward every day… And I did!
I responded to an ad and got selected to do the induction course. It was actually with Aussie Home Loans at the time in 2006. I did the training, started as a junior broker, worked my way up, obviously, through that.
And then I started… It’s not about getting itchy feet, but the company actually was separating and going in two different directions. So, several of us had a choice to make. I went out with one of the employers and started up another company. Actually, just before that happened is when I actually met the amazing referrer Axon Property Group that I work with today, but it wasn’t called that back when I met Robbie. It just sort of, having a chat with him and talking about my experience and just wanting to make sure that I continued to be in a position that I could really help nurture clients.
Q. Can you explain what came from the Royal Commission?
A. In summary, I think what came out of it was better guidelines and regulations for broking and banking. I think it cleaned up the industry from the perspective of those that fly by the seat of their pants or wrote the more dodgy stuff that weren’t strong on process and paperwork really had to see some changes. I think in the broking firm that I was working with at the time and the duty of care that we taped from the clients and understanding their plan, I think that we had to adapt but we didn’t have to like a lot of change.
So is it still impacting us? I guess it’s impacting us from the perspective of, I believe there’s always going to be a ‘big brother’ watching. As I said, that’s a positive, that’s definitely not a negative. There’s going to be constant change in our industry from the perspective of licensing and there’s got to be a balance, but I think we’re just in new territory.
Being a broker, so long as I’m being supported by my governing agencies, I’m paying them memberships and decent fees to continue to ensure that I’m compliant, then I’m happy. From that perspective, we also talked about interest rates, people go, “Oh, you got to have the best interest rate.” That’s a big portion, absolutely.
In regards to the Royal, I’ve been asked to talk about the Banking Royal Commission. That was a two-year hearing. And it really did shake our industry, but for a positive outcome, I believe. And I don’t think there was anyone untouched. We had the major four banks, we had A&P, we had the regulators, brokers, banks doing stupid, ridiculous things with fees for service, but the client actually not getting any service. Unfortunately, we had some of the deceased clientele being charged fees on ongoing. APRA and ASIC, two of our larger governing agencies actually wrapped over the knuckle for not actually being strong enough in the industry and not standing up to the big fours early.
Then there was insurances, the miss-selling of insurances. And then, I think the biggest outcome of the report was also that life insurance company and putting profit before people. I think that that one really hit me hard. I have no problem with anybody having a business or a company and everybody has to make some money. You’ve got to earn enough money to pay the bills and pay the rent or the mortgage on the property, or your staffing, marketing, advertising, insurance to cover everything, and general operating supplies. I get that. But when you hear some of these other profits that were being talked about but then over someone’s health condition and stuff like that, that’s when it really starts becoming concerning, I believe.
Q. What qualities would you look for in a broker?
A. You’ve got to find a broker that has your back. Is that broker just looking to write the next best quick loan and then you convert it and you never hear from them again? Or is that broker sitting down and understanding your plan, whether it be family planning or property planning? Are they sitting there and understanding you as a client? What are your needs and what are your wants and what are your goals and what’s your plan? Are they helping you put it together? Are they understanding that you’re buying the owner over investment? Are they understanding that you want interest only instead of principal and interest? And what are those reasons for? Are you wanting a redraw account or an offset account or a credit card to offset, to help assist with the offset account?
Q. What’s your best advice for other brokers out there? How can you go above and beyond for your client?
A. For my Defence members, do you have a deployment coming up? What’s the workaround for that? And I don’t think I can ever be too invested. If there’s anything that I can do to assist future-proof yourself and get you where you need to be for your clients and your property future, then there is no question off limit for you or me. I think we all need to be as transparent as possible. So then we can help select choices for you then to finalise. And I think that that’s really, really important.
From my perspective, when I get referred to a client and I’m about to write a half a million dollar loan for the couple – I need to be invested. At what part don’t I need to know that client and have an understanding of their lifestyle? How many children? If there are no children now, are there children to come? How many fur babies do we have? And what are our overall lifestyle expenses?” Now, if no broker is asking you that information, then they’re not doing the right thing by you either.
Q. How is working for yourself different from working for someone else?
A. Obviously making your own business, your business. I went through a couple of major milestones in my personal life that I then just needed some stable hours and income. So I stopped being a self-employed broker and found myself working for a key broking firm on the Gold Coast and helping them with the basics of client services, procedures, and manuals.
Why I think that’s important is I just don’t think that my job’s a nine to five, Monday through Friday anymore. I’ve got clients that are also in high-security divisions and things like that, that they can’t talk or have their phone with them at work. So for me to get the best from my client, I have to give them the best of me, and that is making my time available for them to be able to talk to me openly and comfortably, and not necessarily sitting in the tea room, sitting on the corner, not trying to be overheard by the colleague.
Q. What do you do differently to other brokers?
A. I guess that’s what I do, broking differently. I love what I do. I don’t know if I mentioned it earlier, I’m turning 50 tomorrow. I think it’s not certainly where I expected to be. I refer to that or I say that because when I looked at my parents turning 50, I’m like, “Oh, they’re so old.” But I think as the population continues to age and we’re all aging, I now look at myself and go, “I don’t feel that old.” But it’s not necessarily where I thought I would be.
Q. What made you decide to take the leap and start out on your own?
A. So, taking that leap of faith was “what can I do different if I was not working for someone else and working for myself”? And I think that was one of them, was choose my hours and give my best time to my clients.
The next one was, I am sincere about wanting to help people in regards to finding the best fit or structure for them now, and then also being open to what those tweaks are going to be in that 12 to 24 to 48 month period, as their plans continue to change and immersing to their financial outlook. So I guess the biggest thing I keep coming back to is what I do differently, and that is, I humanize it, I try not to be too much for a mama bear, but I generally just care.
Q. What should I look for in a broker?
A. So, when you are working with a referrer or they refer you to a broker, or you’re not sure whether to use a broker, do I want a recommendation? Do I want a referral? If someone’s used that broker before and had a really good experience, there’s a good chance that you ought to. Ask them who they’re accredited with, ask them how they get paid, understand how many banks they’re accredited with. If they don’t have over a dozen banks, ask the question why. You want to be able to have variety. Ask them what they would do if the valuation came in short. I don’t get paid until the loan’s settled, but that does not mean I’m not going to work my ass off for you in the meantime.
Do I talk to people in the industry? Absolutely. Do I think any broking firm out there that just thinks that they can rely on their own company is not open-minded. I think the industry is big enough and that there is enough clientele out there that we can afford to be competitive, but also inspire and assist other firms. And I think what I might do really well, ie, client services, or get that little bit of mama bear, another broker might do something else really, really well. We can’t be experts in everything, but we certainly get to choose what we are good at. I think that’s me knowing my clients and my clients knowing me, it’s me taking the time to understand their plan and putting that together. It’s brokers, some brokers out there, just finding a quick fix. They get in, they do the deal, it’s a refinance or it’s a straightforward purchase, valuations, ticktock, it’s in on contract price. They settle a loan and you never hear from them again.
Q. What's your best piece of financial advice?
A. Finance can be very, very stressful. You need someone that’s going to take the bull by the horns and do their best to understand your plan (it’s incredibly important to have a plan!). I think you need to have an understanding of your own basic numbers and I think COVID is a great opportunity to do just that.
If there’s anything that I can say for someone that’s working from home or even in lockdown at the moment is put pen to paper or pull out an electronic notepad and do a sweep through your bank statement for the last month, so that you can get an understanding of your spending.
Q. What’s the hardest part of your job?
A. 90% of my business is construction, which is a very labor-some portion of the industry. We’ve got some banks that do construction loans really, really well and others that don’t. It’s certainly a valuation game in certain states. What that essentially means is that I want to make sure that the valuation and the bank that we’re looking at considering your finance is reviewing and valuing the property that you’re buying as close to contract price as possible, therefore, saving you again, unnecessary expenses.
I’ve got clients where their circumstances have changed. Instead of doing a loan in that three month period, we’re doing that loan in 24 months. I don’t mean it’s taken 24 months to get the loan approved. What I mean is, it’s just taken them… They had some unexpected changes, a loss of job for example. We just had to put everything on hold – that does not mean that you still don’t have access to me. It’s not that we are not still talking. Are there still health checks along the way? Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, I want to try and take as much stress and burden out of the financial sector as possible. I want to ensure that my clients are empowered and supported and nurtured any way possible to make one of the top stresses in life more manageable for you. That’s what my job is.
Is NOW the time to restructure your finance or get back in touch with Deb about your next move? Get in touch here.