Annie Kane and James Mitchell are joined by professional cyclist turned Finance Detective mortgage broker Travis Meyer to discuss why he chose to take the off ramp from cycling, how he settled $20 million in his first year and what his goals are for the future.
The WA-based broker reveals his thoughts on the entry requirements for brokers, what drew him to work for Finance Detective and why he is helping young athletes understand their finances better.
We also reveal:
- How mentors helped him throughout the journey
- His thoughts on the new CBA accreditation requirements
- What he would tell his past self
Announcer: Welcome to the elite broker podcast. This is your host Annie Kane.
Annie Kane: Hello everyone and welcome back to The Adviser's Elite Broker podcast. I'm Annie Kane, editor of The Adviser and I'm joined by James Mitchell, managing editor of mortgages. How are you doing James?
James Mitchell: I'm very good, thanks Annie. It's good to be back for the new year.
Annie Kane: Yeah. So today we've got ... We're mixing up a little bit and we've got a former cycling champion, turned broker, Travis Meyer whose working out in Mount Lawley in WA with finance detective. We’ll hear all about why he chose to take the off ramp from cycling to become a mortgage broker, how he settled 20 million in his first year and what his goals are for making it past that critical 18 months mark.
Now you may remember we spoke to him in the April edition of the magazine but this is more of an update to see how his first year has gone. So how are you doing Travis and how is it all going? Yeah, not too bad. Thanks for having me.
Annie Kane: Great, thanks for coming on the podcast. Now, we last spoke to you for the April 2017 edition of The Adviser, just months after you'd started your career as a broker. But for those of our listeners who might have missed the issue, can you give us just a little bit of background to how you started in this industry from cycling? It's not the usual career path.
Travis Meyer: Yeah, for sure. I mean it is quite unusual and I guess there's not much of a connection there originally. But I guess ... I was obviously a professional cyclist for many years. Professional for seven years and full time for over 10. Yeah, I just needed a change of direction in my life and was looking at some things that I was interested in. And finance, property were two things that really stood out and the broking industry was something that I started to do a little of research on. And yeah, just really stood out to me as something that I would really interested in and maybe to sort of give something a crack. So yeah, broking was what stood out and yeah, just managed to get involved with a few networks and tried to get my foot in the brokerage and do some part time work while I was still racing. So did that and just really enjoyed it and from there became a full time broker at the start of January and haven't looked back since.
Annie Kane: Great. I mean how did you get involved with Finance Detective? So you're saying that you did an internship but what actually drew to them in the first place?
Travis Meyer: So I guess first off, I got invited to go on a networking ride. So obviously a lot of my connections all come through the cycling industry. So I actually got invited to go on ride with a recruiter for finance services. And from there I said to those guys that I was looking for a little bit of part time work with a brokerage. And they sort of hooked me up with Finance Detective and yeah, they gave me good opportunity and started off with a bit of the nitty gritty stuff of the call calling and things like that. And it was really a baptism of fire for me going from something completely different to broking. So that's how I sort of hooked up with them and did a relatively good job and they offered me a full time position in January. So yeah, definitely happy where I'm and got a fantastic group of brokers and support staff around me that have really helped me through the process.
James Mitchell: I just wanted to ask Travis just about the knowledge, the financial knowledge, the industry knowledge all that sort of stuff. I mean traditionally the path, although it's not as traditional anymore is for people who have come out of the banks or the banking industry and they've set up shop as mortgage brokers. As someone who is a professional athlete coming into the industry, how did you get your head around the lingo, the finance terms, all of the knowledge that's required to become a broker? How did you find that?
Travis Meyer: Yeah, I mean it was a very steep learning curve. I have to say, if I had to go out on my own and do this myself, I don't think it would work out just without that background of ... In banking like you said or finance. It's a real struggle. So I guess I utilised the experienced brokers and the sports staff in our office to the best of my advantage and without those guys, I think I'd be of a ... A bit lost. But yeah, it did take a little thing. I think at least the first six months I was still sort of trying to get my head around everything. And yeah, it is a bit of a mine maze, a lot more than what I probably expected. But yeah, I think support is the biggest thing. So I couldn't thank Finance Detective enough really because they've really given that support in the first 6 months to learn what I need to learn. And yeah, I think if you had to go out on your own, it's definitely a steep ask for somebody without that prior background.
James Mitchell: Yeah, for sure.
Annie Kane: And I think this is one of the interesting things that we've been talking about recently with CBA announcing it's new accreditation changes for new brokers. And they've sort of said now you need to have a diploma and you need to have two years of experience as well as other requirements. But I just wondered, as a new broker yourself, what do you think about those changes and will you be trying to credit with CBA or IU yet?
Travis Meyer: Yes. I mean I think it's not necessarily a bad thing. I think it does stop a few cowboys and thinking that it's going to be an easy ride through. And I think that the educational standards at this point I'd have to say ... I'm obviously doing my diploma and I'm getting accredited with majority of lenders. I don't think necessarily the diploma is enough. I think ... And going back to what I said before about going out on your own, I think the diploma is not enough to go out on your own without that support. So I think mentors, joining a brokerage to start with is definitely super important. I think ... Yeah, maybe they do need to lift the standards of education a little bit more. So yeah, I'm a little bit here and there because you don't want to stop the growth of the mortgage industry and new people coming in but at the same time, we do need probably a little bit more support for new brokers and better educational entrants to come in.
James Mitchell: I can see why CBA sort of made that change. Because I mean if you look at some of the stats from the MFAA for example about the growth of the number of brokers in the industry at the moment, I think it's one broker for every 1500 Australians or something like that, isn't it?
Travis Meyer: Yeah.
James Mitchell: It's a lot anyway. There's a lot of brokers in the industry. But I think it's more sort of like you said the people who are on the fringes or might be part-time and they're submitting loans which often require re-works as well. And that's slowing the process down for brokers who maybe are more experienced and are really looking to get a decent deal across the line. So I can see why they'd be doing that just to make things more efficient more than anything.
Annie Kane: However-
Travis Meyer: Yeah, definitely. No, I agree.
Annie Kane: However like I guess it is ... If you're not writing loans for the first two years, how are you going to get that experience? It's a definitely double edged sword there.
James Mitchell: Catch 22-
Travis Meyer: That's right.
Annie Kane: So just going back to ... You touched briefly there about sort of the support that Finance Detective have given you and the hard ... The way that was so hard going into broking and not having that background. Is there anything that you'd learn in your first year that you'd wish you'd known when you first started?
Travis Meyer: Probably that ... It's a hard one because there are so many different things I guess. But I mean just trying to keep track of all of the different policies with all of different banks is just insane to try and I'm not ... say I'm top of all that. So probably if I knew that that was going to be the case coming in, I'd thought it'd be a little bit more even across the board but it obviously isn't. So trying to keep track of that and ... You need to keep track of that so that you have the right answers for your costumers. So probably I might have maybe postponed my start a little bit just to try and get on top of policy before I started meeting clients. So that was probably one thing that I probably didn't look into enough. But obviously I sort of had the hand brake on a little bit. After I first started, I realised that I didn't have that policy knowledge.
So put the handbrake on a little bit in terms of how much I was getting out and about to see clients until I sort of wrapped my head around that and felt confident that the clients going to get what they need and then sort of went from there and really full-on.
Annie Kane: Travis, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about your sort of cycling career. Maybe not necessarily your cycling career but just ... I'm always impressed by athletes at that sort of level where you're at a professional and you're doing intensive training. I find it really fascinating psychologically as well as physically as well. But how much of that stuff and the training and the discipline required to be at the level you were at in cycling as carried through to into your life as a mortgage broker?
Travis Meyer: Yeah, I mean it's actually transferred even more than I initially had thought. So I mean as we know, in this industry there's just ups and downs on a consistent basis. So one week you can be having a blinder and the next week everything is thought of going pear shaped. Whether that's applications moving through to statement or different issues that can occur. So using that same mindset as a athlete, that is your day in, day out life as an athlete as well. Things can happen that are outside your control but for whatever reason you're not performing etc. So I've managed to carry over a lot of those same attributes to broking and I think it is an industry that requires all the same sort of things just obviously not from a physical sense. But in terms of getting out and about and having those goals to reach, it's exactly the same mindset and you need to be very disciplined and need to be very ... I guess stable to ride the waves of the ups and downs.
James Mitchell: I mean finance and ... The business in the finance industry typically hasn't been known for it's I guess high levels of health necessarily. It's not like everyone is doing yoga everyday.
Annie Kane: Certainly not.
James Mitchell: Yeah. Well, I mean ... But it's a ... That's changing and there's more awareness around the importance of energy levels and fitness and that sort of stuff. And that's something we bring into the better business summit and some of the events that we do as well. And it's something which we're focusing more on. In terms of how you operate now, what's the sort of split in terms of the time you get to keep your fitness up and that sort of stuff and do you still cycle? What's your routine like?
Travis Meyer: Sure. So I guess I'm no where near as fit as I used to be of course because I'm not a few time athlete. But I think it's still super importance to keep that exercise up and that general health. I know if I have my days where I go out early in the morning and go for a ride or go for a run or whatever it maybe, I feel 10 times better during the day mentally, physically. Everything just sort of rolls better. So I try to get out at least three days a week of exercise and I guess for the average person, maybe it's still a little bit more than what would do. My smaller ride will be sort of two to three hours. So I try and get out early morning two to three days a week to do that because I really enjoy it. It keeps me healthy and fit and I think that's a huge part of your mental health as well.
So I think it's super important for people to try and keep healthy. As much as we're always busy in this industry but yeah, it's definitely important so that your mind stays on top of things.
James Mitchell:\ Nice.
Annie Kane: I just want to go back to ... I mean obviously we're going to talk a little bit about cycling. But just came back to sort of the broking side of things, how much of that background of cycling and people knowing you did you use when you first got started broking? Or was it you having to wipe the slate clean and just come out and be like, "I'm a broker." And not talk about the cycling, I mean I just wonder how much you relied on your background.
Travis Meyer: Sure. I mean I use it when I can. I use my cycling background because I mean that's sort of where I've made a bit of a name for myself especially in Perth. So I'm utilising that as much as I can to make people aware of what I'm doing. So obviously I want them now to think of me as Travis Meyer the broker not the professional cyclist because that's obviously what business that I'm doing now. So I do utilise it as much as I can and that's creating new business, new opportunities. So I've joined up with quite a few different organisations within cycling as well to try and branch my name and make people aware of what I'm doing now as a broker. And I guess I give back my cycling experience in exchange for that as well. So that sort of gets my foot in the door and yeah ... So it's still always going to be a super important aspect especially starting out until I get those runs of the boards that people start refer to me as the broker rather than the cyclist. So yeah, I'm utilising it as much as can.
Annie Kane: I guess I mean for you obviously it's a great unique selling point. It kind of really makes you stand out from the crowd, you're not just a broker. You can be like, "I'm also Australian national road race champion FYI."
Travis Meyer: Sure.
James Mitchell: By the way.
Annie Kane: But I just wanted to know, in terms of marketing and things like that ... I know that you have a Finance Detective kit that you wear when you're cycling but what else do you do in marketing to find new leads?
Travis Meyer: So I do have the kit which I utilise in different events that I sort of joined up with. In terms of marketing, I'm consistently ... I guess more getting involved in the junior development side of things. So I'm constantly turning up to events where people are racing and competing or even the participation type ride. So showing my face there, showing the kit there ... Finance Detective are actually a major sponsor of a Bicycling Western Australia, the biggest bicycling Western Australia event. So doing constant things like that and obviously Facebook, social media type situations as well I have quite a big following previously due to my cycling. So constantly just putting different information on there just to keep people aware of what I'm doing and any information that they can take from that. And I sort of split it between the two, cycling related and broking related. Just so that if they are not quite interested yet in the broking, they're still following me at some sort of level. So eventually in time, they will hopefully get in touch.
James Mitchell: Travis, I'm keen to know about some of your goals for your business in terms of volumes, in terms of what you want to achieve and that sort of stuff. Again, it comes back to that performed based stuff just like with sports. You're setting goals and you're looking to achieve them.
Travis Meyer: Yeah.
James Mitchell: What are some of the goals you've got on the horizon, whether it's this year or over the next five years or whatever it might be?
Travis Meyer: Sure. So I mean obviously with my background like you said, goals and performance is a huge part of who I am. And I wanted to try and see how I could translate that into a new industry. So I'm constantly setting new goals for myself. Came in quite conservative at the start but once I got my feet sort of wet and I was really starting to roll, I started to reassess and yeah. I mean I've got to a point now that I'm happy with the volumes that I'm writing. I'm also targeting different awards as well. So I utilise previous winners and what sort of volumes they're writing and try and compete with that-
James Mitchell: Okay.
Travis Meyer: From my perspective ... So I've just been awarded ... Well, not awarded sorry, named in finalists for the rising star Better Business Awards so that was one small goal because I knew where I came in, I wouldn't be able to go for the New Comer Awards. So that was the target that I set. So I've made the finalists which is great. Now, I just obviously want to try and go for the win.
James Mitchell: Yeah.
Travis Meyer: But for next year, the New Comer Award is one thing that I'm looking at and I know that my volumes may need to be around that 30 to 35 mil settlement. And at this stage, I'm currently on track for that. So I'm pretty happy with where I'm at the moment. And yeah, I'm just ... I'm one to reassess constantly so it depends sort of where do I hit this financial year, reassess and go for the new goals ongoing from there.
Annie Kane: So you're sort of ... I think you saying to me previously that you're sort of looking around 20 million for 2018. And just in terms of how actually you're doing that, what kind of loans are you writing? Is it all resi, are you doing any commercial, what does it look like?
Travis Meyer: Yeah. So it's 99% resi. So I basically ... When I started I thought I need to focus on something that I'm comfortable with at least for now until I really get my feet stuck into it. So I am just writing resi at the moment, I have done my first commercial deal, it was about a month ago. But I had a lot of support through that so that was a big learning curve and ... Yeah, really had to have my hand I guess through that process because yeah, it was a whole another intricacies behind that. So mainly residential but obviously I will be looking to move into commercial as well ongoing. But yeah, I think that will take a little bit more time.
James Mitchell: Yeah. Travis, I just want to get your views or perception of the Perth market because ... I mean we do speak to Perth brokers on the show but probably not as many as Sydney and Melbourne brokers just because of geographically and there seems to be more brokers in those cities. But Sydney and Melbourne obviously have had a pretty amazing property market. It's been booming for five, six years or so and there's been a lot of success among loan writers. As a result of that, there's been plenty of business around. In terms of Perth where things aren't as prosperous real estate wise, how is it generating leads and getting business?
Travis Meyer: Sure. It's definitely flat and that was something that was ... I was aware of as I came in as a broker. And I knew that I'd coming in to the tough times. Yeah, Perth is still pretty flat at the moment. Unfortunately, we're not seeing that real growth like Sydney and Melbourne but yeah I mean in the end of the day, I think it's a bit of a patience waiting game especially for us brokers. But yeah, we're getting obviously shot in the foot a little bit with valuations and things like that. So yeah, I'm hoping over the next 18 to 24 months, hopefully Perth will start to make a bit of a move. But yeah, in terms of generating leads and trying to get deals done, I think it is a lot slower. And talking to a lot of the experienced brokers, they're saying their volumes are down quite a bit the last couple of years. So yeah, I guess we've all just got our fingers crossed and we're hoping that the Perth market will pick up at some point relatively soon.
James Mitchell: Yeah. Is there still demand for refinance and stuff like that? I mean there's obviously decent rates around still with a few of the lenders? Are people still looking to get a better deal on their home loan? I'm talking about existing borrowers now.
Travis Meyer: Yeah, for sure. I mean predominantly my business that I've written has been refinance, not a lot of purchase so predominantly refinance. So obviously people are trying to capitalise on the low rates at the moment. The problem I guess people are having is they're coming to us wanting to capitalise and look for a better deal but then because the way the Perth market is, the valuations are-
James Mitchell: Of course.
Travis Meyer: Sort of shooting them in the foot. So yeah, it is a little bit of a difficult one because obviously we want to help our clients as much as we can and look for those other options. But just the equities is not there with a lot of them which is unfortunate. But people are definitely actively looking to refinance and get themselves a better deal. So yeah, that's predominantly where my business is coming from but it can be very difficult in this market to try and help every client.
Annie Kane: I think that's really interesting what you're saying about sort of how to educate the clients and being like, "Actually, you might want to refinance the valuations." We're going to sort of impact and come into play there. But I know that you've done otherwise in ... or will be doing other work in terms of actually providing financial education. Can you tell us a little bit more about your XSpeed programme?
Travis Meyer: Yeah, sure. So XSpeed Australia is junior development cycling programme in WA. So a good friend of mine, Amanda O'Connor has started up this group and they basically take a holistic view of young athletes lives. And they try and make sure that they have a good life balance. So that's something that's very close to me, coming through that young development side and turning professional. I've grown through the whole sort of process. But I've also gone through the process of when my career was going to come to a halt, not really a back up or a full understanding of what I wanted to do. So that programme itself is very important to me and something I want to be really involved in. And there is some things in the works I guess, very early stages that I'm discussing with Xspeed Australia about sort of rolling out just some information sessions for athletes to give them a more rounded approach about their sport but also trying to give them a bit of financial understanding as well.
So I think that's pretty important that kids understand the financial side but also being young athletes specifically, making sure they understand there's important things they need to take into account if they're going to go down the path of being a professional athlete and having that back up.
Annie Kane: Yeah. So I mean I guess ... How old are you now? You 28, 29?
Travis Meyer: 28.
Annie Kane: 28. So I guess do you sort of wish someone had done that to you when you were starting out in your cycling career?
Travis Meyer: For sure. Yeah, definitely. So I guess at a certain point, it was a few years before I actually retired, I was struggling to find a new team and a new contract in Europe and that was what really sort of frightened me quite a bit. And I went through a bit of a tough time in that period because I didn't have the understanding that if cycling ended for me, I didn't actually have anything else. So I just assumed that I'd be racing until I'm 35, make a tonne of money and retire and do what I want. But that's not the reality for 98% of people. So when I was young, it would have been really great to have a programme like that that had a more rounded approach instead of going straight down the line of feeling like a professional athlete when you're a kid.
So yeah, it's something that definitely very close to me and something that I'd like to see kids get more of an understanding so that they know the ins and outs of what could happen and making sure they've got that backup. So yeah, I definitely would have liked that sort of thing when I was younger.
James Mitchell: That sounds like a great initiative. It's funny, I was just thinking when we've been talking. The past from I guess athlete either it's sort of professional or just sort of a very high achieving amateur athlete to finance is actually quite well trodden. And we've profiled a number of people, particularly rugby players. I know Sterling ... He's working for a finance company and that-
Annie Kane: And Steve Menzies
James Mitchell: And Steve Menzies as well and there are quite a few. So there must be-
Annie Kane: Micheal Delaney as well, the mean machine.
James Mitchell: Of course, yes that's right. Micheal Delaney, yeah, that's right. But he's a mean machine, he's a swimmer.
Annie Kane: Yeah.
Travis Meyer: Yeah, I read that article. That was really good.
James Mitchell: Yeah, so there must be something in finance that attracts competitive types I guess.
Travis Meyer: Yeah, definitely. I think yeah ... I mean if you look at brokerage industry, it's all about having drive, commitment, being stable and riding those waves. So I think there's so many different things that athletes can transfer across. All you need to know is obviously you need to learn the financial side but in terms of the attributes that you need, it all just goes hand in hand. So I think that's why a lot of ex-athletes do become successful in finance.
Annie Kane: Well Travis, I think that's pretty much all the time we have for today. But thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and best of luck in the Better Business Awards later this year.
Travis Meyer: No worries, thanks a lot for having me.
Annie Kane: Thanks so much.
James Mitchell: Cheers Travis.
Annie Kane: Well, thank you all so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed that. A little bit out of the box, a little bit different but we wish Travis all the best in his new career as a broker. For more features and interviews with brokers like Travis, please do visit the theadviser.com.au and pick up the magazine, which comes out every month. Thanks very much and catch you next week.