High school teacher-turned-broker Kirsty Best recounts her experience of changing careers and establishing a brokerage, and some of the challenges she encountered along the way.
Ms Best, who has been running the brokerage Living Home Loans in Coolangatta for four years with her husband Andrew Best, told the Elite Broker podcast that her husband’s interest in finance and watching him running another business spurred her on to become involved in the broking world.
“When I came out of teaching and just saw what he was doing I was really interested too,” she said.
“I love numbers, I love strategising and things. So, together, he and I just realised we could make good business and create our own brokerage.”
Describing herself as an “all or nothing” type of personality, Ms Best said she immersed herself into broking by first completing her certificate four, and then working tirelessly in the field, and accumulating experience on the job by assisting Mr Best with the loans he was writing at the time.
While completing her certificate four provided a strong foundation for her new career in broking, Ms Best noted that working in the field was very different.
“I think it was a bit like teaching. You do all this study but it’s really different when you get in and do it,” Ms Best said.
“Broking was definitely the same. I think the experience of broking is just really important and it’s so different when you first start out to after you’ve been doing it for a couple of years.”
The most notable difference, Ms Best explained, was that she felt more confident about her abilities, which in turn increased her ability to communicate and negotiate with lenders.
“When I’m working with a lender and I have to do some troubleshooting with them, I’m a lot more confident and able to bring up ideas for the assessor that they will be listening to and sometimes taking that into account,” Ms Best said.
“When I first started, I just thought if they said ‘oh no, this doesn’t work’, then that was it. End of story.
“But nowadays I’ll definitely work through with the assessor and see what I can suggest to get around whatever their issue might be with the deal. So, that was big.”
According to Ms Best, brokers are in the prime position to negotiate with lenders because they would have gained a deeper understanding of their clients through spending time with them.
“You’ve got a bit more of an understanding of what that deal looks like probably way beyond what that bit of paper says,” she said.
“Sometimes it’s just collecting enough information to give that assessor comfort. We do a lot of work before we put an application in so, we’re pretty convinced.”
Divide and rule
At their brokerage, Mr and Ms Best have managed to divide their roles in a manner that capitalises on their respective strengths.
While Mr Best has assumed the role of the salesperson who generates leads for the business by meeting with clients and referrers, Ms Best likes to focus on writing loans.
Ms Best believes it would have been difficult to operate their business as a sole practitioner because generating business and writing loans are two different roles that she believes would have been difficult for one person to perform.
“I think Andrew and I are quite opposite. I think naturally people tend to be either a sales sort of person and bring in the busines or they naturally tend to be that organised, structured sort of person,” she said.
“Whichever one you are, it would be the other side that would be hard.”
Pointers for new entrants
As someone who leapt from a career of teaching to broking, Ms Best warned new brokers or those who wish to establish their own business that success and money may not be forthcoming immediately.
“Have enough money to survive for that first year or two,” she advised.
When it comes to lead generation, Ms Best said her brokerage has used lead generators in the past but had poor experiences with them because she found that the element of trust was missing.
As a business with a strong word-of-mouth referral base, Ms Best and her husband have ensured that their process focuses on providing personalised service for each client.
“I think really focus on building your business as much as you can with those loyal clients because they're the ones that end up coming back and they do your advertising for you,” Ms Best concluded.
To listen to the full Elite Broker podcast with Kirsty Best, click here:
Keep an eye out for the October edition of The Adviser Supplement issue for plenty of tips and information on lead generation in a brokerage.
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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