Stapleton Finance founder Gayle Stapleton has suggested that broker focus on a niche rather than trying to be all things to all clients, as she tells the Elite Broker podcast about the challenges of setting up her own business and dealing with harrowing events in her personal life.
Brokers aspiring to establish their own businesses should avoid the trap of trying to service every client segment and should be unafraid of focusing on segments that play to their strengths, according to the Brisbane-based broker.
Speaking on The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast, Stapleton Finance managing director Gayle Stapleton said one of the initial challenges she faced when establishing her business was having clarity around the clients she should target.
This mindset led her to attempt to “take on everything and be scared of specialising”.
“I was too scared to be more disciplined and focused on the segments that I can add most value,” Ms Stapleton said.
“It probably took me a few years to be bold enough to say these are the segments that I really want to be famous for, and I really want to nail.”
Ms Stapleton took the step of hiring a business coach at the end of 2019 to assist her in charting out her business strategy and elevating her business to the next level.
She said she recognised she needed to select client segments in which she was most experienced, where she could differentiate herself in the market and gain satisfaction from.
She identified self-employed clients and Australian expatriates as two segments she wanted to focus on.
Ms Stapleton worked at ANZ as CEO for the South East Pacific region for three years and was based in the Pacific Islands before establishing her own business as a single operator.
It was here that she built her network and developed an interest in working with the niche segment of Australian expatriates in the South Pacific region.
“In business, if you can differentiate yourself, you’re going to be more successful,” Ms Stapleton said.
She added that the fact she is prepared to work as a business owner with self-employed clients in the commercial space gives her an upper hand.
Speaking on her decision to use a business coach, Ms Stapleton warned brokers who are looking to use one should be clear about what they wish to gain from that.
“They’ll always have their strengths. Just work with them long enough for you to achieve what you want through their strengths,” she said.
“Don’t feel that you’ve got to keep with them, because it can be quite an investment.”
Overcoming an extraordinary ordeal
Ms Stapleton also recounted to the Elite Broker podcast an incident in 2004 when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her residence in the Cook Islands by three masked offenders and forcibly taken to her bank to rob the cash vault.
According to Ms Stapleton, the offenders thought the vault would have one code, to which the manager of the bank would have access.
“It was a horrendous experience,” she said.
“I think it stood me well in years to come because you don’t realise the inner strength you have until you actually go through a really difficult situation.”
Ms Stapleton added she was well supported in the Cook Islands from the locals as well as the government, her team and her extended group of business contacts.
“I know that that experience has made me a stronger person.
“I think what it has taught me is the importance to share what’s going on with you, particularly post an event like that. It is important to actually share that bottleneck of emotions with a close group of people,” she said.
Ms Stapleton said that while she practiced meditation before the incident, she increased her focus on meditation to cope with the aftermath of the situation, and continues this practice to date.
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To hear more from Gayle Stapleton, tune in to The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast.
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.
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