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China expert reveals how to crack booming market

by Nick Bendel10 minute read
The Adviser

Brokers that only speak English have been told they can also capitalise on the booming Chinese market, which has just attracted Bank of China into the third-party channel.

Bank of China announced yesterday that it would sell mortgages through AFG brokers, with the aggregator forecasting continued growth in the Chinese market.

Anthony Leong, the Victorian president of the Australia China Friendship Society, said English-speaking brokers have a credible chance to win business from Mandarin speakers.

Mr Leong told The Adviser that the key is for brokers to sell themselves as insiders who understand the local culture and its unwritten business rules.


"The Chinese are looking for a relationship from somebody on the inside here, and the person who was on the inside here would more likely than not be white," he said.

"If I was a Chinese businessman, the very first thing I would do would be to look for a contact on the inside who was a white Australian."

Mr Leong said Chinese clients would be impressed if brokers learned even a little Mandarin.

"The Chinese, in terms of language and culture, are like the French – if you make a damn good effort, they will bend over backwards to help because they will see that you are sincere," he said.

He said that brokers should look to initiate relationships through official bodies such as the Australia-China Council because Chinese react poorly to unannounced approaches.

"If they haven't established some sort of relationship or you aren't known to them via somebody who is trusted, then they are highly unlikely to take you seriously."

Aussie Home Loans executive director James Symond said English-speaking brokers shouldn't be scared away from any international clients.

Mr Symond told The Adviser that although some Chinese buyers would only do business with people who spoke their language, others would focus solely on getting excellent service.

"We do a reasonable amount of business within the various ethnic communities, including the Chinese community, and we do it through our majority [of] English-speaking brokers," he said.

"I believe there's a truckload of business to be had by providing high-quality service and by providing a high-quality lender panel."

Ballast chief executive Frank Paratore said brokers could help compensate for a lack of Mandarin skills by patiently building links with the Chinese community.

He said brokers could get a foot in the door by developing associations with Asian businesses, attending Asian functions and taking part in Asian networking events.