Career Paths in Finance
The thought of leaving behind a salary and running your own show can be both daunting and exciting – so much unknown, so much potential. The good news is, many people have been there before. In this piece, Mortgage Express team members Joshua Austin, Mortgage Broker, and Vicky Devine, General Manager, take a moment out of their busy day to share their career journeys with us.
Thinking about what your next career might look like? Josh and Vicky are open to hearing from you! Have a read of their story, and reach out if you’d like to start a conversation.
Tell us, how did you get here?
J: I moved into mortgage broking 12 months ago.
I had an average experience applying for my first home loan. When it was time to refinance, I considered my options and decided to engage a broker. The broker helped me truly understand my options and made it possible to feel comfortable about my choices. Seeing them work to find the best solution for my family sparked something in me.
I started out in finance working with a main-stream bank, which developed my client interaction skills within a sales-focused environment. At the time of my refinancing experience, I was working as a statistician, in a Government role. It was a grinding 9-to-5 job, and I was getting sick of missing family milestones and being away from home.
With those frustrations already in the background, and after such a positive personal experience with the broker for our own finances, my wife encouraged me to investigate a brokering career.
It’s been hard work, but I’ve never looked back. I pride myself on finding the best finance solution available for my client’s unique situation and get to balance career satisfaction with being completely flexible for family commitments.
V: I fell into a role as a bank teller, and quickly grew into different lending and relationship management roles.
After banking I moved into the real diversified space of working with a national company that offered all types of client financial services, including broking, financial planning and insurances.
The client was at the heart of everything they did, and with exposure to events like the Christchurch earthquake, I quickly learned how under-insured many people are.
It was about then that I made the decision to jump the ditch with Mortgage Finance Association of Australia (MFAA), who offered me a role in Australia. From there, let’s say Harcourts knew I was in the country, and the rest is history!
It’s been an exciting career, working in bank and non-bank lending, and building a broking distribution team.
What investigation did you do into business models and services?
J: Once curiosity had gotten the better of me, and I attended a number of career information days. Some of the business models I heard about were franchise based, while others were independent operations. I talked to existing brokers, specifically those that had worked in a franchises model and made the move to become independent – I wanted to know how this looked and felt, what they lost and gained: how did they operate, who were their business partners and how did they generate leads. Naturally, I did what I could to understand potential income, as fundamentally, this was a huge call for my family.
V: While I fell into banking, it wasn’t until I started doing home loan lending in my early 20’s that I saw how big a difference a financial professional could make to a person’s life. I was watching banks say no, and hearing about other vendors who wanted to assist. I caught the third-party ‘bug’ with the launch of mortgage broking in the early 1990’s and continued to educate myself in all the options and avenues of finance.
I learnt so much by going on the journey with clients – guiding and educating them, investigating, getting to know their goals – it’s very enlightening and very rewarding.
Moving to Australia and being part of the MFAA gave me a tonne of insight into the environment we were operating in, and the growing opportunities stemming from both lenders and clients embracing mortgage broker services.
When did you make the decision to go solo?
J: It was two years ago now. I wanted to build my own business, leveraging the skills of others around me – this made partnering with Mortgage Express the best option. It’s been amazing learning from Vicky, industry experts and my fellow brokers – the challenges and the rewards are mine to own.
V: For me, it wasn’t so much going solo personally, as it was deciding that going solo was a great option for others. I was solution minded and client-centric, so mortgage broking was a great blend. For the last 15 years I’ve guided broking teams, providing business tool kits that brokers can adjust and implement into their own environment.
Working with Mortgage Express and having the Harcourts Group alongside us is an incredible experience and opportunity for all brokers to excel in. The support is unquestionable from all of Harcourts – when our brokers commit to being present, constant and persistent, we all reap the rewards.
What was the biggest challenge?
J: When starting out, it was hard to establishing my own broker identity and selling my point-of-difference. I had to network and break into my community – I found success through business networking groups, which exposed me to business owners across many segments and all with different skill sets, where knowledge and business referrals are shared with each other.
V: The Royal Commission. You’d think it would be moving countries, but that was a breeze compared to what the Commission put the broking industry through. The uncertainty that the process created on some of our individual brokers businesses was terrible, given consumers clearly understood and valued what brokers do (59.7% of all home loans are through brokers). In saying this, it also united the broking industry and truly made us stronger, and will help evolve processes (which is healthy for all businesses).
What was your biggest milestone – your ‘woo hoo!’ moment?
J: My first client. A first home buyer came to me after ‘dancing’ with five other brokers that hadn’t been able to get their loan through. After lots of relationship building, investigation and some completely honest conversations, we worked through a more detailed financial disclosure. Calling those clients with the news that their honesty and trust had paid off – that they were unconditional and hearing the emotion in their voice – that was my most amazing moment.
V: When a client shares their real-life experience and how the broker helped them into their home, through a refinance or mortgage stress situation – the emotional connection gets you every time.
25 years down the track, I still reflect on my own clients Mike and Sue, and the trust they put in me for their complex property development (they were old enough to be my parents) – they taught me some very valuable life skills in that journey.
In my team space, seeing a broker being recognised by their industry peers reaffirms that we’re doing the right thing – it’s exciting being able to acknowledge and celebrate their successes.
What’s your work-life balance like now?
J: It’s incredible to be able to work around family schedules. It’s brought us all closer, and it’s certainly the best thing about this role. Don’t get me wrong there are some late nights to balance it out, but I find this works for clients too.
V: The journey this industry has given my family and I has been incredible, and I’m forever thankful.
Your team often becomes your friends and family, you’ll experience things that will blow your mind, and the industry will never stop evolving – but importantly, it is fun.
As a broker you can dial it up and down as you need, but rest assured if you want to be successful there are non-negotiables you need to follow – these are my go-to’s:
- Prospect list.
Keep a track of people who you know will do business in the future – be the broker before they need a broker.
- Ten before ten.
Ten phone calls, before 10am each day. Keep yourself top of mind, be genuine and curious in your conversations.
- Consistency is king.
Be present, constant, persistent. Wash and repeat.
Communicate with purpose and timeliness. And reinforce your messages – they’re often new concepts to your clients.
Why Mortgage Express?
J: Mortgage Express is the whole package – backup with a brand, processes and management team, but with flexibility for me to build the business I want to create. The team cemented this for me with their ‘customer first’ focus.
V: It’s the opportunity to build a strong broker network nationally, while partnering with the phenomenal engine which is Harcourts real estate.
Questions? Keen to know more about joining Mortgage Express? Visit our careers page.