A new entrant this year, Jamie Giles of Astute Financial reveals his secrets on how he exceeded expectations to place sixth in the 2017 Elite Business Writers ranking.
Jamie discusses the importance of being adaptable and accessible to his clients, shares how he harnesses his 23 years of banking experience to exceed at broking and reveals his tips for success for young brokers.
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Announcer: Welcome to the Elite Broker podcast, with your host, James Mitchell.
James Mitchell: Alright, welcome back to Elite Broker. We've got a very special bonus episode for you today where we'll be chatting to Jamie Giles from Giles Finance Group over in Queensland and he's a commercial broker, does a little bit of resi but most of all those big commercial deals and he spent a decent amount of time at one of the major banks, and he's recently transitioned to broking just over the last couple of years ... And we'll be chatting to him a little bit about how he's found the move into a third-party channel and what he's be doing over the last twelve months.
So, yeah, the reason I wanted to call is, obviously as I mentioned earlier, was that you've made it to our Elite Business Writers Ranking for 2017. And, obviously, you're a new entry, you weren't on last year's ranking, and you've come it at number six.
Jamie Giles: Okay.
James Mitchell: We've ranked twenty-five brokers and what I found quite interesting just about you in terms of some of the other brokers on the table is that they're big resi writers and you seem like you're much more of a commercial type of finance broker. Maybe start off by telling us a bit about your background in terms of finance broking.
Jamie Giles: Yeah, yeah, sure, so I've been doing finance broking for about four years.
James Mitchell: Mm-hmm
Jamie Giles: Prior to that, I was at Westpac for twenty-three years.
James Mitchell: Oh, wow.
Jamie Giles: Yeah. In that twenty-three years I've done a lot of jobs within the banking industry. But, I guess, the last fifteen years of that twenty-three years was in commercial banking or in a corporate environment. So, a lot of my connections are really based on that sort of level of commercial side of things rather than residential.
James Mitchell: Yeah cause, I mean, just looking at the figures here and I guess what sort of bumped you up into that top ten, almost top five category was sort of the two-hundred and thirty-nine million dollars worth of other business ... non-resi business which you wrote over FY17. I was just wondering what is the sort of makeup of those deals? Are they new apartments? Are they commercial property? What's the sort of securities behind them?
Jamie Giles: We do a lot of cash flow vending.
James Mitchell: Okay.
Jamie Giles: So, I guess sixty percent of that overall book that we write is related to the Healthcare industry.
James Mitchell: Mm-hmm
Jamie Giles: So, pharmacy, medical centres, dental practises ... a lot of those guys have commercial needs but they also have a strong residential portfolio that sort of comes with it.
James Mitchell: Mm-hmm
Jamie Giles: Other than that we start to ... a few property developers. We've got a number of what we call professional property investors that sort of go into commercial property and into residential property, but that makes up about five percent of our book. And then, we have a number of IGA supermarkets and yeah, other businesses which are just like mainly working capitol requirements and cash flow requirements.
James Mitchell: Nice, I want to ask how did you find that trans ... I mean, obviously you've got a huge amount of experience in banking with your experience at Westpac and that sort of stuff. How did you find the transition four years ago moving from baking to broking? I know it a very well trodden path, but I just wanted to know what your experience with it was.
Jamie Giles: You get from the security blanket of an organisation like Westpac, where all the systems are in play. You've got a number of people around you. I think the last five years at Westpac I was the head of commercial baking so it wasn't really necessarily one of the tools, but one of the things I couldn't really differentiate within that leadership role was I needed to be close to the customer and I remained close with relationships and helping bankers get through the process. So I ... My transition outside of that is being really around having the right support network around me and having astute financial as the aggregator really helped me because they weren't the hugest aggregator out there but they did provide a lot of support in the initial days
James Mitchell: Mm-hmm.
Jamie Giles: I can only do those numbers that you're mentioning if I have the right team in place and I've got three people that work directly with me. One works just as straight commercial analyst and looks after the operational side of the business. Another person looks after the fine lines and equipment finance and then another persons just really a support person to those two and we've worked together, those three people and I have worked together for in excess of seven to ten years so we all know exactly what our skills are and we work very well as a team.
James Mitchell: How competitive do you find the commercial space at the moment, I know ... Brokers are increasingly... From what we're seeing are looking to move into business lending from resi to varying degrees of success ... Home loans, the resi lending space is very, very competitive there's a lot of brokers operating there obviously competing amongst themselves but a lot with the banks. When it comes to commercial is there still decent opportunities around or is it becoming more competitive?
Jamie Giles: Look, I think in the market, mortgage broking is certainly a saturated market. The commercial banking sort of environment five years ago was emerging it's certainly at a maturity right now. What we're finding is that people who are doing predominately mortgages are trying to give it a go at commercial and sometimes they're successful and sometimes they're not but yeah, it is certainly a lot more competitive than it was say a year ago.
James Mitchell: Yup. You're Queensland based?
Jamie Giles: That's right, in Brisbane in Spring Hill.
James Mitchell: Okay. Are most of your clients in your area or based in the state as well or do you service people from all over Australia?
Jamie Giles: No, we service clients all over Australia. Some have got clients in Tasmania, Adelaide, Victoria, Sydney, a lot in Queensland obviously but we also service WA.
James Mitchell: Nice, again that's something a bit different too to your typical resi broker who might have their patch or their local community which they deal with. A lot of your relationships you have with people out of state for example, how do you strike up those relationships- is it based on referral, is it previous clients you've had at the bank? How does that happen?
Jamie Giles: I was a senior relationship manager for a good eight to nine years at Westpac and at that particular point in time I had a national portfolio that looked after a pharmacy. So we sort of struck up pretty good relationships all over the country at that time and since leaving Westpac where... really reverted from that national specialist sort of role to a specialised local view, we've been able to maintain those relationships.
I think it's like anything in business, you do a good job for one person they tell two or three of their close friends that are in that local and technology today, people want to Skype or they want email or they want a phone, you know, you've got to make yourself accessible. I think the most important thing is, when I do most of my business calls is between six and ten o'clock at night and Sundays. It's generally, the phone doesn't stop ringing on a Sunday so you just got to be adaptable to when people want to talk to you. If you are accessible and you do a pretty good job I think that's probably the momentum that we proceed. Certainly to answer the question we had a national sort of aspect to us and from my experience previously.
James Mitchell: Are there any sort of core lenders that work in particularly that sort of healthcare or health and pharmacy space which like you said about sixty percent of your book is going towards that sort of sector because its sort of your niche. Is there a bunch, because I'm guessing unlike home loans where basically all the different lenders offer the same sort of products and that sort of thing, that there would only be a handful of players who would be lending to that sector - is that correct?
Jamie Giles: Surprisingly all the majors have got a healthcare division of which we know the state and national heads to sort of pull certain strings we need to. We've also got special lenders like BIQ specialists and Medfin.
James Mitchell: Mm-hmm
Jamie Giles: We don't tend to use BIQ specialists too much but we do use Medfin from time to time. We've got a number of other sort of banks and financiers that will do certain things when major banks won't. We find that the solutions are there is just about making sure that they're the commercially right decision for the people to do. That's probably the biggest part that we do, we don't just sit there and assess an application we try and get involved with their thought process and what they're trying to do commercially to guide them through the right steps and then once they actually get to that point then the finance solution becomes quite easy.
James Mitchell: Just finally, Jamie, before I let you go - I just want to find out, or get a bit of an idea about your sort of goals on say like, a five year timeline or even the next twelve months lets say... Do you have any big goals for the business in the next year?
Jamie Giles: I think for our business it's always going, know what we can do and do it very, very well. In regards to the number of lines, if we sit around total amount of exposure that we write for that two hundred and fifty million a year then we're pretty happy with that. Anything above that then that's okay as well, but I've got to a point now where for years, my first five year plan was to actually establish a business with the good clients that they reciprocal business. Not necessarily people that just want to buy a business or buy one offs, the guys that want to form groups, want to actually really understand what we do and at that value. Over the next couple of years it's more about doing the same but doing more with less if that makes sense?
James Mitchell: For sure. Do you think ... Just finally, before I let you go, do you think this scope for brokers in the resi space who may not have the skill or experience to do commercial to sort of start forming more joint ventures or alliances with experienced commercial brokers such as yourself to sort of share deals whether it's resi or commercial or flowing different ways is that something which is viable do you think?
Jamie Giles: Most definitely, I couldn't encourage that even more. I think from the concept of what I said before know what you do well and do it very, very often but the things that come across your desk that you can't do then you need to make sure that you partner with the right people. There is so much business out there to write but you need to make sure you're doing it to your skills and that might mean that you invest in yourself to lift your skills so that you can actually do it one day but they best way that you can do that is obviously, get a mentor or get somebody who knows what they're talking about.
James Mitchell: Yep, good stuff. Good tip. Alright, well congratulations again on a very successful year Jamie. I appreciate your time, we'll have to catch up again with you soon.
Jamie Giles: Alright, no worries James. Thanks buddy, I'll talk to you.
James Mitchell: Alright, always good to chat to Jamie there. We’ll be back next time I'm pretty sure that's all we got time for this week but do join us next episode on Elite Broker.
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