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Revealed: broker’s enviable path to SME success

by James Mitchell6 minute read

When you consider his extensive career working with SMEs before becoming a broker 12 months ago, it’s little wonder that MoneyQuest franchisee Leo Rodino found his calling.

Broking had always been at the back of Leo Rodino’s mind as a career option. Hailing from Argentina, this highly qualified finance professional earned a Bachelor of Economics and Masters in Finance in his home country before emigrating to Australia 15 years ago.

Rather than taking the leap and becoming a broker straight away, Mr Rodino got himself a job and went back to university, earning CPA and IPA qualifications before finding his niche as a financial controller and accountant for SMEs. For over 13 years he worked with small businesses in Brisbane, gaining invaluable experience of the inner workings of SME financials.

In the two years prior to becoming a finance broker he worked as a business broker, negotiating the sale of franchises for a national company. The one thing that all franchise buyers had in common was the need to secure funding.

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“I realised it was time to join the finance broking industry,” Mr Rodino told SME Adviser.

“I’d had a working relationship with MoneyQuest and was considering joining the group. About a year ago, I became a franchisee,” he said.

“After all these years of dealing with small businesses, I realised that many business owners struggle with finance. They might be experts in their own field but they often have difficulty reading financials and understanding how certain decisions they make impact their cash flow.”

During his time as a franchise broker, Mr Rodino saw a number of clients being turned down by the banks.

“I decided that my specialty in finance broking would be small business customers,” he says. “I’m able to help them find the loan they want but also have the conversation with them around their financial position and pinpointing areas where I can provide guidance. That’s my niche.”

The franchise financier

Mr Rodino has carved out an enviable position in a highly competitive broking market by consulting SMEs and diagnosing their financial needs. Working with those looking to acquire a franchise has become his specialty.

In case you haven’t noticed, franchising is big business in Australia. According to the Franchising Australia 2016 survey, carried out by Griffith University’s Asia Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence, there are now an estimated total of 1,120 franchise brands operating in Australia.

The total sales revenue of business format franchises was estimated at $66.5 billion in 2016 (compared with $65 billion in 2014). Together with estimated motor vehicle sales of $43.4 billion and fuel retail of $36 billion, the total sales revenue for the entire franchising sector was estimated to be $146 billion (compared with $144 billion in 2014).

Mr Rodino said franchises are one of his main areas of focus right now. His business, which is equal parts finance broking and business consulting, is the perfect fit for SMEs in the franchise business.

“Selling a franchise is a difficult thing to do and it is a long process,” he explains. “There are many people involved. You don’t just have the buyer and the seller. You also have the franchisor, who is overseeing the process and needs to approve the buyer and train them. It is not a simple sale. Once an offer is agreed upon by both parties, that’s where the real work begins, because you need to go through the contract, do your due diligence, look at the financing and prepare all the legal documentation and franchise training.”

It can take up to nine months from the moment an agreement is made to settlement, Mr Rodino said. Having spent two years negotiating franchise sales, he’s now perfectly positioned to help on the finance front.

“It gave me great experience and exposure to the whole process, the difficulties that can arise, the objections from each party and what can go wrong,” he said.

“Meanwhile, my background and understanding with the accounting side of things means I can talk to my clients now about what they need when buying a franchise and what they can expect through the process. I can manage their expectations. People buying a business need guidance and support.”

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James Mitchell

James Mitchell

AUTHOR

James Mitchell has over eight years’ experience as a financial reporter and is the editor of Wealth and Wellness at Momentum Media.

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