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Why this broker client became a broker himself

by Demii Kalavritinos33 minute read
James Hasselle, Mortgage Choice

In this episode of Elite Broker, Annie Kane and James Mitchell are joined by the director of Mortgage Choice Miami and Burleigh, James Hasselle, to chat about how he went from being a broker client to becoming a broker himself.

Find out how the UK broking industry differs from the Australian, and what James believes gave him the edge to place 10th in our Elite Business Writers 2017.

Tune in to find out how the Gold Coast broker trains his staff, why efficiency is amplifying his success and how his team provides unique and satisfactory customer service using a step-by-step process.

You will also hear from this broker about:

  • His thoughts on the current commission reviews
  • How he gains referrals
  • His advice to young brokers


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Did you like this episode? Show your support by rating us or leaving a review on Apple Podcasts (Elite Broker) and by following The Adviser on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more insight!

Articles of interest:
How Bernard Desmond wrote $20m in his first six months
Royal commission ‘opens the banks up to class actions’: UBS
Charging fees would be anti-competitive, warns aggregator head
Royal commission updates online form


Full Transcript: 

Announcer: Welcome to the Elite Broker podcast. This is your host, Annie Kane.

Annie Kane:  Welcome to The Adviser's Elite Broker podcast. I'm Annie Kane, Editor of The Adviser, and I'm here with James Mitchell, the Managing Editor of Mortgages, and this week's guest, James Hasselle. Today we're speaking to James, who's one of Australia's top and most prolific mortgage brokers, who's been a regular in our Elite Business Writers ranking. He made his way up to 10th place in the last edition, which was for 2017. This Mortgage Choice franchisee wrote a huge 632 mortgages in the 2017 financial year, totaling 153.2 million. Now, that's a remarkable achievement in its own right. The feat is made all the more impressive by the fact that this broker is not operating in a capital city, but instead he's making a name for himself in the Gold Coast suburbs. In this episode of Elite Broker, we speak to broker and director of Mortgage Choice Miami and Burleigh, James Hasselle, to find out how he's done it. How are you, James?

James Hasselle:          Hey. Nice to speak to you. Yeah, good, thank you.

Annie Kane:  Yeah, good. Hopefully you're having a bit of better weather up there than we are having down here in Sydney.

James Mitchell:         Yeah.

Annie Kane:  It's absolutely pouring it down.

James Mitchell:         Plenty of rain down here.

James Hasselle:          We've got the air con turned up to about 18, and trying to keep it cool. But yeah, we're all good.

Annie Kane:  Oh, lovely.

James Mitchell:         Nice one.

Annie Kane:  Well, now, I just wanted to touch base with you, James. We obviously know a lot about you because you've been in our Elite Business Writers ranking for probably about 10 years now, but your story to broking is actually a rather unusual one. Is it right that you were offered a job as a broker when you yourself went to a broker for a home loan?

James Hasselle:          I did. I actually went in to buy a piece of land when I first moved to Australia, and went to go and purchase a piece of land, and picked up the card of a mortgage broker, and went to see them. I'd actually been a broker in the UK before I moved to Australia. I went to see him and he said, "I can't get you a home loan, but have you thought of a job yet?" I was like, "Oh, yeah." I ended up working for those guys in Brisbane for two years. I actually got my own home loan sorted with a bank in the city-

Annie Kane:  Oh, right.

James Hasselle:          ... to get the land as well.

James Mitchell:         Isn't that funny?

James Hasselle:          Because of the previous stuff from the UK, but yeah, that's how it all came about in Australia.

James Mitchell:         So you went direct to the bank to get your mortgage, but you went to the broker to get a job?

James Hasselle:          Correct.

Annie Kane:  How long ago was that? When did that actually happen?

James Hasselle:          That was in 2004.

Annie Kane:  Oh, right, okay, so a while back now.

James Hasselle:          Yeah. February 2004, I joined Mortgage Choice in Brisbane.

James Mitchell:         Was it a Mortgage Choice broker that you initially contacted?

James Hasselle:          It was a partnership of two brokers that were in North Brisbane. They took me on ... I think at some time they went and did all the psychometric tests I think with Mortgage Choice, and Mortgage Choice said, "I don't know if you should employ him," but they did, and luckily they did.

James Mitchell:         You've been with Mortgage Choice ever since?

James Hasselle:          Yes, I have. Yeah. I went out on my own on the 13th of March in 2006, down in Miami on the Gold Coast.

Annie Kane:  You were a broker in the UK as well?

James Hasselle:          Yeah-

Annie Kane:  I'm interested to know how it differs from UK broking to Australian broking.

James Hasselle:          Hugely. We were just starting to go through the heavy regulation time over there. I'd originally worked for a mortgage packager over there as a BDM. I was in sort of that sales environment, and then started to take on the broking side. I'd done it for about two years before I left the UK, but it was a much, much tougher broking industry because you have a broker in every single real estate agent. There's a lot of channel conflict. It's a completely different broking environment. There's a lot more brokers. There are certainly a lot more brokers. It was very different coming to here.

James Mitchell:         I know one of the big things to come out of the UK that we learned from our study tour the year before last, was that there's a lot of insurance being sold through brokers in the UK, or at least that there has been recently. Was that the case when you were there as well?

James Hasselle:          That was the case. It was just expected that that was part of your process. That was always the case when I was certainly there. It was a tick and flick. There were a number of different options, but it was a lot more detailed. The regulations are completely different there now. As I was leaving, they were bringing in things like a CEMAP qualification over there. It would be a completely different world to what I left. But yeah, it was a standard part of the process.

James Mitchell:         Is there any learnings from the UK, like the insurance for example, that you brought in when you came to Australia, or was there any sort of like, I don't know, interesting areas of business which don't operate here, but it managed to give you a leg up, or anything you managed to import?

James Hasselle:          Probably the stuff would be the real push ... Insurance side obviously is a key part of the business. People need to be protected when they're taking on debt. It's something that needs to be considered. Another franchisee and I set up a financial planning practise specifically to do that. We did that about six years ago. It's not an easy business. It's very, very different to the mortgages, but we needed to do that because we got sick of referring our clients to people, and not getting the results. They weren't getting called back. They weren't getting phoned. We took control of that side to make that happen.

Annie Kane:  I think that's actually one of the interesting things about Mortgage Choice. They recently released their half-year results, and they actually reported a drop in settlements in the first half of the year, but the financial planning side of the business has been growing rapidly, and it's really been helping them bring in profits for shareholders. I just wanted to like in terms of the financial planning side of things, how many of your clients do you think in terms of proportion would be actually referred out to the financial planning area as well?

James Hasselle:          We would say at least 40% would be referred out. You were just saying about the settlement results last year as well. It's quite interesting because Mortgage Choice you were saying they were I think 4% down on settlements, were they?

Annie Kane:  I think six.

James Hasselle:          Six. We did a bit of analysis, and in the first half of the year, we were 8% down. On the second half of the year, we were only 1% down. Overall obviously it ends up being at about four. We'd sort of buck the trend on the settlements there as well. Because it was obviously ... realistically, as we look at last year, it would've been one of the toughest change years ever, like in terms of policy change, rules change, interest ... everything changed last year. It still hasn't stopped. But it would've been one of those ... a very, very tough year to learn.

James Mitchell:         With all those pricing and policy changes, that's had an impact on volumes, you're saying, in settlements?

James Hasselle:          Oh, a hundred percent. Definitely. I think a lot of the head lenders, if you look at some of the bigger lenders, their settlement numbers are down. Their market shares might be similar, but probably the biggest thing with us is market share. Mortgage Choice nationally I think in Queensland we have one of the highest market shares in comparison to Sydney, but on the Gold Coast, between two suburbs that we have. Our marketing area goes from Burleigh Heads all the way up to the bottom of Surfers Paradise, which is sort of Broadbeach. Our marketing area there, we worked with 16% market share. Nationally I think we're on 4% or something like that. You'll have to check those exact figures. We worked on 16%. Out of that 16%, half of it was ours, just our offices.

Annie Kane:  Wow.

James Hasselle:          The key thing, I think, in those risk times when the market's changing and it’s harder with market share, you've got have a bigger market share of the pool, which that's sort of proving yourself in this last 12 months. We're doing an expansion down south with Murray Dickson, who's been around for about 16 years, and he's joined his office in Palm Beach, now he's coming through all of our systems to get the same results as what we'd managed to in the other offices. And then in about a year's time he'll retire. But I think he's enjoying it that much, I don't know if he will. We might keep him on.

James Mitchell:         How did you manage to grow your share to such an extent in your local area? Like you said, it goes all the way down to Broadbeach.

Annie Kane:  How many brokers have you got?

James Hasselle:          Now we've got myself, Elliott, Andrew, and Gemma has now just come on as well. We've worked it quite differently. Our process is different. What we use, is we have obviously administrators at the front that help with the phone calls, and we call them just the client service officer. They get involved in doing the marketing and doing all of that side, but what happens is we have credit analysts in the business. They're people that are going to become brokers. Everything I've ever done, I've found the best people are the ones I've grown through the business, full stop.

            If you look at Elliott Simmons, who's in our business, last year he settled 70 million, and this year he'll do the same. Now, he's come from the beginning. He's gone through the business. What a credit analyst is doing, they're doing an upfront credit check for the client. They're getting all the financials from the accountant. They're getting the payslips. They're confirming all the information upfront. They're getting the applicant information sheet together. So when we see the customer, all that stuff's done. So we're not sitting there mucking around going with the client, "Oh, where have you lived for the last three years? What was your mother's maiden ..." like all of that's done. So when we see the customer, we can talk about what their requirements are, what their goals and objectives are, and work on a lending solution.

            Whereas I think a lot of people get bogged down with doing all this information collection in the appointment, which is horrible for the customer. Look, to be honest, if the customer doesn't do that stuff, they may not get in to see us, because they've got to be able to give us some sort of commitment that they're going to take our time seriously as well. They're going to get more out of the appointment if they come and sit in our office, they've got their own screen, there's a beer fridge out the front. It's a much nicer experience for the customer to come and sit down and work through it and talk about where they're trying to go, rather than come in and tell me their five different addresses they've moved around, and things like that.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. I guess that must help as well, because I note that in Elite Business Writers ranking 2017, you wrote 632 mortgages, so it must help with that sort of sheer volume of seeing that many people.

James Hasselle:          Yeah, exactly. We work with the team together. It will go, the credit analysts gets it through to the brokers, the brokers do the business and put the file together, and then it goes through to our processing staff. Their job is to get the thing tracked and approved, then document, sign, and make sure we set everything up. We don't just stop at approval, we make sure they have all their accounts set up, their internet banking set up, their app set up. We take it all the way through, and throughout our process we're asking for referrals. We're making sure we're doing the touchpoints with the client.

            I suppose that market share question, James, you were saying about, realistically it comes to the amount of times we're in contact with the customer, the amount of times we're asking for referrals, and the customer satisfactions we're getting. We're getting all of that with our marketing plan to our existing customers. We're doing annual home loan health checks every year, which you should be doing. That's what we should be doing. If the client's switching, we're doing the switching. The client's discharging, we do the discharging. My opinion is the broker should be doing it all. If we want to make sure we stay long-term, then you need to be doing something for it. You can't just be expecting, "Oh, I'll just get payday." You've got to be giving something back to the customer, giving them service. That's what we do. That would be a reason for that market share.

James Mitchell:         I just wanted to ask about that idea of sort of asking for referrals, because I know some brokers might feel a bit hesitant, particularly if they're new to industry and that sort of thing, about asking their client for a referral. How do you actually do that? Do you ask them straight up? Do you put it in an email? What's the best way?

James Hasselle:          We will ask the client in an interview. We tee it up right at the beginning. Right at the beginning when the credit analysts are speaking to the customer, the first thing we'll say is, "Where were you referred from?" People come to our business expecting that, "Oh, it's a referral business," where were you referred from? Now, that's the first contact with the business. Then we will always ask them, "Look, during this process, we're going to ask you for feedback because we are a referral business. If it's good, we want a five. If it's not good, we want a one, and we want to know why, and we want to fix it." We ask for that at the beginning, and tell them we're going to check in with them, and then we check in through the process. We check in in the interview as the broker does. The broker does the interview, gives them some cards and says, "Look, it's a really important part of our business. Please do refer to us if you're happy with the business service we offer you."

            We continue that check in process all the way through. We're updating the client every three days. If we can't get them on the phone, they're updated via an email or by text. Every three days until approval. When it's approved, the broker congratulations them on an unconditional approval, and you go "Oh, how do you," it's the processors that are doing those updates, not the broker, yeah? It's approved, then the broker does the congratulation call and again, ask for referrals. We ask the whole way through.

            And document signing. We always document sign. Because at the end of the day, we've said they're getting something, we need to check it's correct. It's really important to I find to control that part of the process to make sure it's done correctly, and to make sure that they're not just getting thrown off into the sunset. You've got to make sure it's set up how you've set it up and how the client's, you've got to make sure you've met their requirements, and that everything is spot on to what you've said.

James Mitchell:         Yep.

Annie Kane:  I think that's interesting as well, you're sort of talking there about having that really hands-on process all the way through, and having that oversight. I know that some of the things that we sometimes hear coming out from ASIC when it's sort of suggesting that "Oh, you know, this loan wasn't right for the consumer." Sometimes it's not actually ... Sometimes it just is where it's fallen through the cracks, where maybe a broker has introduced a client to the bank, but then somewhere along the line, the contract gets changed somehow. So I think having that oversight's a really important step, to ensure not only are you getting the client the right outcome, but also that you're protecting yourself-

James Mitchell:         That it's compliant.

Annie Kane:  ... that you can ensure that what is going forward is actually correct, and that you're happy with it all.

James Hasselle:          Well long-term, somebody goes into a bank and they say, "Oh yeah, I want to do this. I want to switch this loan to interest-only," for example. I'll give you a classic that I've had from a customer. They come back from holiday, and they thought, "Oh, I don't want to pay my mortgage. I might go into hardship for a month or two." No idea of the repercussions of what that is. They had the money there do it, but having the relationship we have with our clients, they called me and spoke to me. I said, "Look, if can afford your minimum repayment and you do this and you, rather than clear your credit card this month, if you pay your minimum and then do that next month to clear your card, it would be better than going on your mortgage." They did that, and they were fine, and they weren't in any financial hardship.

            If you don't have the customer relationship with your customer, you can't help them. Staff change that much in different lending institutions so regularly, you're then relying on them to help your customer with their individual requirements, it takes away from our service.

Annie Kane:  Just touching back on the referral process there. You're sort of saying that right from the get-go you're making people aware that it's a referral business, and that you're sort of asking them for referrals. Do you find that in most cases, people do then refer on? Are they happy to do that?

James Hasselle:          Yeah, they do. They absolutely do. You'll find most of our business, and I'll bring up the sheet to tell you, but most of our business is referral on existing customers coming back. That's something that we've built on. It's something that is just key to the business. You want them to keep coming back to you. If you've had a customer conversation and you're having a proper deep customer conversation with your clients, and you were finding out what they're doing for the next five years, you're helping them set up what they need to do. Now, if they can't come in for their home loan health check on the phone, we can do it by Skype, or we can do it by telephone, whatever's easier for them. But it's an important part of what we do.

            I'm going to bring up my master report and tell you now. If I look over the last 12 months, like a massive part of our referrals for example is repeat business coming back, internet-driven from customer referrals as well. So they'll go, they'll see something as far as they're happy with the service, they'll go online and then find us. That's been an integral part of what we've done as well. You've got customer referral, you've got repeat business coming back. They're the bits that make all the difference long-term.

Annie Kane:  I think that's one of the things as well that, I mean for you specifically, because you're not in a capital city, it's really quite remarkable the sort of volume that you've been able to write, not just in sheer number of mortgages, but also in terms of the numerical value of the mortgages. What kinds of loans are you typically seeing up in the Gold Coast?

James Hasselle:          Big mixture of clients. Yes, there's first-time buyers. We're finding that the Gold Coast has a fair few self-employed people, and is trying to understand financials, and trying to understand how they work. You'll find a lot of brokers don't take the time to understand how the accountants work the financials, and realistically what the accountants are trying to do in understanding the balance sheet, and understanding all those parts of a self-employed person. We do get a fair few self-employed people. We also get referrals in Sydney. I have a customer from LinkedIn that came to me, hadn't dealt with me for 12 years, and have been to a couple of brokers in Sydney buying in Balmain, and she was getting nowhere. It made no sense at all. So we met at the airport at Kingsford Smith, and we helped her. That's a bit of a difference, you know?

            As I look across the leads for last year, if I look at this, I've got 79 business referrals, local marketing, which is all the local business, we've got about 90, then Mortgage Choice give us leads as well. There's about 85 from them. And then repeat business is 344.

Annie Kane:  Wow.

James Mitchell:         That's massive.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

James Hasselle:          Internet leads 108, and customer referrals, just customer referrals, is 184.

Annie Kane:  Yeah, that's huge.

James Hasselle:          So when you take that as a percentage, because just reading number over the phone's hard, is 20% customer referral, and just under 40% repeat business. Then the other bodies all make it up. That's how you'll have a good long-term sustainable business. It's always really been very similar mixes. If I look at the last three years, customer referrals since we've changed our process, has actually gone up, and so repeat business has gone up since we've changed our process. Because we never used to have the credit analysts helping the broker. The broker would have to deal with it all, which means they can't give as good a service.

Annie Kane:  When was that? When did you actually change that process?

James Hasselle:          We changed that in 2016.

Annie Kane:  Okay.

James Mitchell:         Okay. That's when you brought the credit analyst on board?

James Hasselle:          Yeah, that's when we defined the roles, so the service proposition comes through. The credit analyst deals with it before the broker gets it, the broker gets it, and then it goes to processing for approval and doc sign. It's just made it as a nice flowing process. It's made it everybody knows what they got to do. The customer knows what to expect. And yeah, referrals have gone up, and repeat business has gone up. From, like if you look at '15, it was 32%, and last year was 38% repeat business.

Annie Kane:  What was the trigger for you, actually deciding to change the process in 2016?

James Hasselle:          The stress levels within the staff. Because let's not kid ourself, it is one of the most stressful businesses there is. I'm sure there is more bald brokers than anything else, male and female. It's stressful business. It's hard, hard work, and there's so many changes all the time and so many rule changes, you've got to have a defined process. You've got to have your process down pat. You've got to know where everybody should be at that time, if you want to be able to do any decent volumes of business.

James Mitchell:         I just wanted to sort of move on to I guess some of the bigger themes which are hitting the headlines about the industry at the moment, and a bit of scrutiny the broker industry is under. Obviously we've had the ASIC remuneration review, and the CIF response to that. And then more recently, the Productivity Commission have released a report which looks at broking, and then we've got the Royal Commission as well. I've been asking a few people in the industry of whether they think it's a bit of overkill. What are your thoughts?

James Hasselle:          I mean, at the end of the day, everybody's gone through the last two years, 18 months of all of the different reviews, the ASIC review on the whole, it showed realistically that brokers create competition in the market, because some of those small guys, some of those smaller relenders wouldn't even have any footprint in the country. It also showed that the way that brokers are paid also does help create the right behaviours in most cases. I think, to be honest, there's so much negative stuff reported, I think there needs to be some more positive stuff reported. I think there needs to be a bit of a stand up from the industry when you've got the MFAA and the FBAA, they need to stand up and go back quite hard at people like Choice, who come up with one single unhappy customer, when Choice should actually go and do a little bit more reviewing and do some straw polling of different brokers and customers and see the differences. You'll find that satisfaction levels are above 80% with most.

            In our industry, most good broking businesses, the satisfaction levels are so far higher than going direct channel, it is unbelievable but you don't see that reported. You see this negative rubbish. For whatever reason or whatever hidden agenda they've got, there needs to be a bit of a stand up in everybody, you guys included, and all the franchise groups, and smaller ones as well. They need to stand up and be heard a little bit more, and not put up with the amount of negative and often single unhappy customer stuff that's being sprayed everywhere. There has to be a bit of a bigger voice, I think.

James Mitchell:         We did put out an opinion piece not too long ago, which sort of I guess highlighted the fact that in the Productivity Commission's report in particular, they relied on data from UBS, from the liar loans report from here and there. They didn't really do any of their own research. I basically said, "The one blinding area that they've neglected is the customer. All they had to do was basically go and find out from broker clients if they were getting a good service, and if they were, then there wasn't really a problem there." We did highlight that. But it's interesting hearing you talk about a referral business, because one would think that having existing clients refer other clients and then them refer other clients, that would be a pretty good I guess-

Annie Kane:  Testimony, yeah.

James Mitchell:         ... testimony of a good customer outcome, that your existing clients are referring customers.

James Hasselle:          Exactly. Exactly. The customer at the centre of it. The thing is, it's the knowledge that a good broker has. An example would be, if they are going to go and buy a property, it's so rare you're going to get a broker that's going to go and cross-collateralize these clients. They're not going to cross-secure the properties. Now, you go into a direct channel, 90% of them are going to cross-secure. They are going to do that. You know what? When there's a market turn, and when it does go backwards, those customers at the centre of it are in a worse position than if they'd seen a broker that had set it up correctly. At the end of the day, if the customer's at the centre of it, then that stuff has got to be considered as well. When it comes to a customer, it's not just about a rate and a product, it's about the overall position of the customer, and you've got to protect them for their future as well.

            The worst case I saw was a guy that in the 2008, we got hit pretty hard on the Gold Coast on values. He'd gone to a direct channel, and he'd linked his unit to his house that he bought off the plan. And this thing bought off the plan in Mermaid Beach, he bought off the plan for nearly 480 grand, and the bank valued it at 280 grand. It was no problem, we'll just secure it against your house, sir. When his building company had an issue and he needed funds out, he came to see me. He'd already sold his house, and the bank took everything. They took all of the money, paid down his other debt, and he was left with his unit, and he did lose his business.

            Now, if he'd seen me, I would've separately secured those properties. He would've had the deposits secured against his home in a standalone loan secured against his investment, and he could've then decided what he did with the funds. He could've reduced the debt if he wanted, and if not, he could've saved his business. Straightforward. Straightforward, simple, setting up right from the beginning. But it just seems to get ignored. That stuff's just ignored, and it needs to have a bigger voice.

Annie Kane:  Well, I think, I mean, obviously as you say, we are always on the lookout for stories and areas where we can help. So if you do have any testimonies from clients that are happy to be contacted by us, then please do send them through. That goes to everyone who's listening. I would also suggest that I know that Dino Pacella from National Finance Brokers Day has also recently set up a group specifically to highlight good consumer outcomes and testimony from broker clients, so that's another option. But I think definitely there is a much more of a move from people to start relaying this information. The problem that we have obviously is we don't know who your clients are, so it's just actually getting those contact details to be able to profile these people, and highlight the fact that they themselves coming from the horse's mouth that are able to highlight the good consumer outcomes that their broker achieved.

James Hasselle:          That's something I will certainly ... Look, you know what? I've done this job for a long, long time now, most of my working life. Last week, on Friday, I still would after we got a result for a customer, and I still got buzzed up about it. I still enjoy it. I still love it. I still really enjoy doing what I do. Honestly, to do the figures we're doing and to try and get the plan to where we're trying to go, a lot of the week I would be in here at five in the morning. We do a late night on a Thursday for me, and I'm probably not home until nine o'clock at night. The other guys do a late night on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. We work very, very, very hard to get the results we get, but I and the other guys still love what we do. That is consumer outcomes. Because when you get a customer that pretty much phones you nearly in tears because they're so happy, that's a hell of an outcome. It makes it worth doing what we do.

James Mitchell:         What is the end goal for you then? What's the plan on the horizon? Where do you want to take the business?

James Hasselle:          I want to be able to-

Annie Kane:  Businesses.

James Hasselle:          ... work on the business more, probably the biggest thing I want to be able to do, and have the brokers come through the business with me, and have their client books and have their own businesses in my business, so that they see the value of seeing their customers long-term, and basically help grow the business that we have here. Obviously I've got three kids and a fourth one on the way in May.

Annie Kane:  Oh, congratulations.

James Mitchell:         Oh wow, congratulations.

James Hasselle:          Yeah, a fair more bit of family time I think my wife will insist on. That's what I want to be able to do as well. I want to be able to work on more complex clients and more complex business clients, and let the guys in the business be able to lift up and continue to keep the business going so I can really work on the business, refine the processes, really put new technologies in the business that make the process even better. You know, just those little touches. Customer comes in, they get a menu. They sit in reception, they've got a menu. They got a bottle of white wine, distilled sparkling water. It's a different experience. That's what we're trying to create.

Annie Kane:  I just want to ask a little bit about your expansion plans. You mentioned earlier about sort of ... Did you buy the book from Murray in Palm Beach, or have you just bought the whole business?

James Hasselle:          No, no, Murray and I are working jointly. We're working jointly for the remainder of the year to get his business to a certain milestone, and then he'll retire. But I actually reckon he might try and stay on and do some stuff. We'll see.

Annie Kane:  Well, I was going to ask just because of that whole sort of succession planning route. I mean, a lot of business, a lot of the industry now are getting to that age where they're starting to think about, "What am I going to do? What's my exit strategy?" I just wondered how you actually got into that process of working with Murray to try and take on his business and hand over the reins to make his retirement sort of easier, or at least his exit from the business.

James Hasselle:          I think he's somebody that I've got on with forever. It's very, very close to my other two offices. We've got one franchise with two businesses at the moment, Miami and Burleigh. They're within three or four Ks of each other. But that would also be another reason that you alluded to earlier, James, about market share. Having that retail saturation I think's key as well. Like, it's local areas. Burleigh Heads is a local area and Miami's a local area, and Palm Beach is the next sensible area. I contacted Murray and said, "Look, this is what I'd love to do. What do you reckon?" We both agreed it was a great idea.

            Succession planning, it's stuff a lot of guys have got to think about. There's been some successful ones in Mortgage Choice, like Matthew Cunliffe, who took on Chris Vitale's book in Brisbane, and you know the volumes he's doing. It's enormous. I think it can be done successfully, but I think the best succession planning is somebody that's at a different stage and inside the business already, or inside a similar business that is able to come in and take the reins and run. Because at the end of the day, your customers of 15, 20 years, you got to make sure that they're going to the right people. You really got to make sure that they're going to continue getting the experience that you've given them, you know?

James Mitchell:         Yeah, good point.

Annie Kane:  Well, we definitely look forward to hearing how that all goes for you, James. Please do get in contact, both you and everyone who's listening, if you've got any great testimonies or clients that are happy for us to contact, to find out a bit more about their experience of using a broker, and we can try and get this ball rolling-

James Mitchell:         Yeah, that'd be great.

Annie Kane:  ... to have more positive news stories.

James Hasselle: My call out to everybody. We all obviously love the business, we do. We've got to make sure we share some of those good experiences clients are getting, for the good of the industry. I was listening to ABC Radio the other day, and they had Choice on about one single client. You don't ever hear a positive thing out of them. Or UBS is the other one that loves negative things. We need to get some strong, positive stories. Because the fact of the matter is they can say what they want, but when you have more than 80% customer satisfaction rating, what are they even going on about? If they took that as a different straw poll, if you took that across direct versus third party, let's see what the difference is, and then have that conversation. But they don't do it because it doesn't sell newspapers, does it?

James Mitchell:         That's a good point.

Annie Kane:  Well, we'll hopefully try and change that for you, James, so watch this space. Thank you so much for coming onto the podcast today and sharing your story with us.

James Hasselle:          No, thank you.

Annie Kane:  For everyone else, please do email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to similarly share your stories of client testimonies. For everything else, news, features, and insights into the mortgage broking industry, please visit www.theadviser.com.au, and we'll catch you next week.


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