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The making of a mentor: How IFA Mortgages does it

luke and anthony  x

luke and anthony  x
Todd Stevens 33 minute read

In the latest episode of Elite Broker, Annie Kane is joined by IFA Mortgages director Anthony O’Flynn and broker Luke Harborne.

While at different stages in their careers, the two Bondi brokers are both achieving recognition within the industry: Anthony was a finalist in the Best Residential Broker category at The Adviser’s Better Business Awards NSW earlier this year; while his mentee and colleague, Luke, burst into our 30 Under Thirty ranking at seventh place last year.

In this week’s episode, we find out how young brokers can learn from the more experienced leaders in the field, the importance of mentoring and the strategies that they have put in place to achieve success.

They will also share:

  • The traits to look for in a mentor
  • Their thoughts on the current market
  • Anthony’s advice to brokers looking to hire new staff

And plenty more!

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Did you like this episode? Show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (Elite Broker) and by following The Adviser on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedInIf 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:

30 Under Thirty 2017
NSW Finalists 2018
Award-winning broker’s recipe for success

 

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

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

Annie Kane:  Hello, and welcome back to the Advisor's Elite Broker podcast. I'm Annie Kane, editor of the Advisor. Today, we're speaking to one of the top brokers under the age of 30, and his former mentor, colleague and leading residential broker, to find out the importance of mentoring in the broking industry, the strategies they have put in place to succeed, and their thoughts on the current market.

            While at different stages of their careers, this duo from New South Wales-based brokerage, IFA Mortgages, have been making waves in the industry. One has been involved in finance for 30 years, has been running his own brokerage for the past 16, and was a finalist in the Best Residential Broker Category at the Advisor's New South Wales Better Business Awards earlier this year. Meanwhile, his colleague is a relatively new broker, having started out just three years ago, after being a customer service manager. But he has also since been carving out a name for himself, thanks to his dedication to his clients, and came in seventh place in our 30 Under 30 ranking last year, writing more than 170 mortgages totaling over $52 million.

            So in this episode of Elite Broker, I am joined in the studio by IFA Mortgages director and broker Anthony O’Flynn, and the company's practise manager and broker, Luke Harborne, to find out what they've learned from each other and how they are unlocking the secrets to success. How are you guys doing?

Anthony O’Flynn:     Good. Good, Annie.

Luke Harborne:        Good, thank you.

Annie Kane:  So as we mentioned in the beginning, we both know you at the Advisor from the different things you've been doing in the industry. Anthony, we know you from the Better Business Awards. You were nominated this year as a finalist for the Best Residential Broker Category in New South Wales. And Luke, we know you from the 30 Under 30 ranking, this year coming in for the first time. I think you're a brand-new entrant, coming in at seventh place. So I really just wanted to find out a little bit about how you guys work together. But before we do all that, Anthony, I wonder if you can just take me back a little bit to what IFA Mortgages is, and why you started it.

Anthony O’Flynn:     Yeah, well thanks for that question. IFA started back in 2002. I was originally working for one of the big corporates, Commonwealth Bank, and I had the ability to work with a lot of financial advisors that were looking to get into the mortgage industry. I was lucky enough to join a group called IFA, Integrated Financial Advisors, and they had about 17, 18 advisors. They asked me if I would be involved in assisting them to set up a mortgage brokerage practise, which, I was only 33 years of age, a little bit nervous at that time, and from a secure job eventually took the chance, and moved across into it. From that, I just started working with the advisors, started to work with my own clients as well, and started starting up a platform.

            Through that, I learnt to deal with a lot of the clients that they had as financial planning clients, and turned to look at the model that the financial planning industry was using, and thought that we can develop the mortgage industry into that type of a process, where ... it was just not a set-and-forget type strategy. It was more a constant review of your clients every 12 months, giving them options to what's available in the market. Which wasn't heard of in those days. We used to just set and forget. But we developed that model, and the success of it has just grown through the years.

Annie Kane:  I'm assuming then that the majority of your clients when you first started were just referrals from the financial advisors.

Anthony O’Flynn:     Yeah. Definitely. Right. They were all financially viable clients, and they were looking either to improve their mortgage or start some financial planning, either in investment properties or through managed fund strategies.

Annie Kane:  Okay. How did that differ from what you were doing at CBA, and formerly at Colonial?

Anthony O’Flynn:     Purely, I was working just with brokers in regard to helping them put together deals. Where you're working in this space with the face-to-face with the client was more important, where I could sit down with them, and understand the strategies that they were looking at. Previously, I was working with the advisors, and they were telling me about their clients and the way they wanted to develop strategies, where sometimes the words were mixed up or the strategy was a little bit wrong. But when you sit down face-to-face with a client, you start to understand what they're looking to do, and where we can try and direct them.

            I think that worked well, because the planner was trying to get them towards financial independence. On the mortgage side we could do that. Set their lines up, and then every 12 months we'd sit down with the planner, review the whole strategy, their superannuation, their insurances, and also their mortgage. That's also where the client became a lot more sticker for us as a company to be able to retain them, because we were a one-stop shop.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. How has that model evolved over the years? Obviously you've been there for a while, now.

Anthony O’Flynn:     Well, through the use of the younger generation, one of the things that we've found out over the last couple years is, most of your clients are 10 years your age. The financial planners we're dealing with are now in their sixties, and most of my clients are between the age of 50 and 60. So it was becoming a very mature business, and through the help of Luke and another gentleman, Fletcher, who works with us, we did analytical work on our book and we realised where we were sitting.

            So what we did, is designed how we could get the younger people like Luke more involved in the mortgage broking industry. Through that, we've been able to develop. Continue the same advice model, but be able to develop our clients through the use of social media. But more, they're a lot quicker on technology than myself, and the uptakes, to be able to develop our strategies a lot smarter, a lot more robust than ever before.

Annie Kane:  Great. I mean, you mentioned there a little bit about Luke. So Luke, coming back to you. You started off with IFA as a customer service manager.

Luke Harborne:        Yes, correct.

Annie Kane:  Then made the move to become a broker.

Luke Harborne:        Sure.

Annie Kane:  Take me back to when you first started IFA. What was it that you were sort of looking to do. Then, why did you decide to become a broker? Or were you pushed?

Luke Harborne:        It's quite funny. Originally I was studying physio at the time, when I came into working with Anthony. Anthony had a relationship with my old man. I needed a bit of extra cash. Obviously, it's pretty expensive to live in Sydney, so I started off one day a week with Anthony. It was funny, the first thing Anthony did when I came here for my first day, just dumped about 10 files on my desk and said, "Have a look through these." I had no idea what I was looking at. But anyway.

Annie Kane:  Lots of zeroes.

Luke Harborne:        I don't know. It didn't take me long to kind of catch onto what the business was about, and what we were kind of doing for the clients there.

Annie Kane:  What did you first start off doing at customer service? You're reading these 10 files. What was your sort of day-to-day work like?

Luke Harborne:        Yeah, okay. I guess a lot of the book was geared towards Commonwealth Bank. They were one of the first banks to release a pricing tool, where you could kind of go online, submit a processing request and ... I was getting some really good success and saving clients quite a substantial amount on interest, and hence saving them money. So I found that I kind of created a bit of a role where I would go in there, I'd start them from our biggest lines to our smallest, so obviously taking care of our bigger clients first, reviewing their loans, seeing what I could save them, let them know how much I had saved them if I was successful, and found that that was ... I got really receptive feedback from the client.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

Luke Harborne:        I thought, "This is really positive." So I thought, "Well, I'll just start punching this out, and see where I get." And basically got through the whole book. I think in the first 12 months of doing that process, I probably saved about $110,000 worth of interest, across the book.

Annie Kane:  Wow. Yeah.

Luke Harborne:        I think Tony copped a bit from his development manager at Comm Bank at the time, saying, "This guy's got to slow down."

Annie Kane:  "What are you doing to him?"

Luke Harborne:        But I loved it, because every second client would come back saying, "Thank you so much." They didn't have to do anything, and obviously there was no cost to the client and only savings. So it was a win-win for all of us, yeah.

Anthony O’Flynn:     I think the biggest thing was that the business was growing so quickly, or it was at a stage where we'd become a bit of like a bank. We were happy to set clients to start with, but actually being proactive to our clients was something that had fallen by the wayside. And someone like Luke coming in and having the trust with our clients, and building the rapport, which is the most important thing that he can build, rapport with a client ... They were happy with the result he was giving them, and they felt like they were looked after. I think from that it's grown that discharges have really dropped off from clients going elsewhere, because we tend to look after them. They fell that they're contacted more often than they would if they were with anyone else, or with going straight to a bank.

Annie Kane:  That's really interesting. I mean, obviously you were sort of working on your own as a broker for such a long time. Was it something that you just hadn't realised? Was that gap there until Luke started doing it, and you realised the opportunity? Or was it the other way around, that you thought, "Well, maybe I need another broker," and sort of asked Luke to come into that role?

Anthony O’Flynn:     I think it was one of those things that, being very much independent and letting go and cutting the purse strings from myself, and delegating, I found really, really hard. In the first instance, because all this time I was doing it by myself and had support staff, and they'd just work, come in to do their job, et cetera. And trying to then have the trust to pass it onto someone else after doing it so long by myself was incredibly hard. My wife said, "You have to let go. You can't just keep working these hours until 1:00 in the morning, et cetera. It's just not sustainable." Finally, just giving Luke that little bit of ... getting in contact with that resisting client, having that trust to pass it on to someone else, is the most important thing, I think.

            That trust with a colleague ... Well, I never see him as an employee. He's always a colleague of mine, and a mate. We can work together with clients. I think that's the most important thing. You know that the service he's delivering to the client is what you'd like the clients to receive. I think that's the success. Then you build on that.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. I guess as well, you being in the same office, you can kind of be really hands-on as well, as much as you like, or hands-off, if that's your sort of want. But being able to hear the conversations, and maybe doing a little bit of hands-on mentoring, while Luke was coming up to becoming a broker himself, I guess that must have really helped, too.

Anthony O’Flynn:     Yeah, it definitely was. And Luke, to his credit, would always ask for help if he needed it. He wasn't always someone that would just say, "I'm doing this." He'd ask for advice and he would take advice on, as well. Which, I find a lot of the younger people today won't take that advice. As soon as you ... you're criticising them, where Luke was open. Didn't have a real background in finance, was from a physio, but was happy to learn how to do things, and to do it properly, and learn ... like, as you say, a lot of grey hairs, some of that gray-haired knowledge to pass onto him in regard to the best way to handle clients.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. I don't think I quite phrased it as gray-haired knowledge, but ... but experience, is what we're talking about. And for you, Luke, how did it go from working on massages and muscles-

Luke Harborne:        On bodies, yeah.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. To going onto something completely different in finance. Did you ever sort of think, "Actually, coming down to it, I'm going to have to make real choice in what I want to do"? Or was it something that, you were just happy to change your career?

Luke Harborne:        The moment where it really changed for me was my very last placement during my physiotherapy degree, and the practise I was in, they were quite old school, and backwards, I would say, in comparison to what we've been learning in the union. I kind of sat there and went through that five weeks, and I was like, "Oh, well I could probably get a job here, if I stayed on." I stayed on during Fridays with that same practise for free, volunteering, in the hope that that would progress into a job.

            But I kind of started going in on those Fridays and I found that I wasn't as excited about going into that, just to do massage and really quite passive techniques. I don't want to get too technical on the physio side of things, but I found it a lot more satisfying and exhilarating doing the financing, saving people money, and really helping out people that are just genuine ... like a lot of Anthony's clients are just genuine clients, and just need that helping hand and guiding person just to take them through their journey.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

Luke Harborne:        I found it a lot more satisfying. Yeah, definitely.

Annie Kane:  How do you split up the clients between you? It sort of sounds like you were taking up some of ... like obviously, they were all Anthony's clients to begin with. Are you now having to find your own clients? Or are you still managing the clients that Anthony had?

Luke Harborne:        I don't really know how client- ... It started out that, because of my background, any self-employed clients would go to Tony because that was too technical for me, and I'll just take the real straightforward ones, start out that way. But now, it's kind of comes down to where the lead was generated from. So if Anthony had that personal relationship, or the call came in and said, "My friend told me to speak to Anthony," then Anthony would probably take the lead on that one. But if it was just a person who had been directed towards the company itself, generally being young and energetic as I am, I can churn out the presentations and the strategy a bit more quickly than Anthony can, these days. So I'll probably take the clients that don't have that affiliation or are  associated with Anthony per se, and just the company, and take that on.

Anthony O’Flynn:     I think the success was when he started reviewing clients, he started picking up small top-up loans. Not a lot of brokers send them back to the banks to get done, because they're not cost-effective. But what I find is, doing that, it builds that rapport with clients. I introduced Luke to those clients, and from then they go, "Well, Luke's giving good service." They would then, if they referred, the referral would say, "I just spoke to Luke." And a lot of clients got to understand that I could look after ... all the 1400 clients that we'd got on our books, it got to more that Luke would review them. Most of them felt comfortable with Luke. They'd do small top-up loans, et cetera, and then continue that relationship, and they'd build.

            And it comes times when I'd say to Luke, "Can you look after this client, because I'm stuck on something else?" And he can take them up. Again, having the energy level of a young 25-year-old, he's able to deliver. Just a story, the other night he stayed all night in the office to get out some clients' reviews and clients' applications. I mean, you don't find that in too many young people today, that can stay all night and still work the next day, just to try and meet customer demand, and also the timelines that we give the clients.

Annie Kane:  I think that's one of the things we hear, especially about you Luke when we sort of were doing the 30 Under 30, and we were looking at all the submissions, that a lot of the customer satisfaction was really down to testimonials, to somebody saying, "You've really gone above and beyond, and thank you so much." That was really coming through in the application that you put through, and it's working.

Luke Harborne:        Yeah.

Annie Kane:  So as I mentioned at the beginning, more than 170 mortgages last year, more than $150 million in your first year. I mean, how did you actually do that? Is it all sort of just slogging away, working until 1:00 a.m. as Anthony was saying?

Luke Harborne:        Yeah.

Annie Kane:  Or is it more you finding it sort of come to you?

Luke Harborne:        Yeah, I mean, the leads have kind of been generating themselves through the service that we provided. I would say that probably between 60% to 70% of the leads are just coming from existing client referrals, word-of-mouth kind of stuff. Then we have the rest of that coming from referral partners. So yeah, it kind of just falls in your lap and you've just got to make sure that you're ready to take that lead on, as soon as it comes in. One thing that I probably identified quite early on with Anthony, with him being the sole broker in the business and having so many leads coming through, because obviously he does such a great job, is he just couldn't get those presentations out quickly enough because he had to write them all. He didn't have that support there.

            I quickly identified that we needed to change that. The quicker I got up to speed and could start helping take the load off in that respect, the quicker we found the book growing, and I think ... I remember back to when I first became a broker, and we started a whiteboard KPI. We started out trying to get about $3 to $4 mil worth of formally-approved or unconditionally-approved loans on the board each month. That's now jumped up to about, what are we now? About $8 or $9 mil. So we've doubled kind of what our goal is, and we're still able to meet it. It's a tough goal, and sometimes we don't quite get there. We fall short. But sometimes, we do smash it. So we've really picked up the volumes we're writing, just because I think he's now got that support, and we were able to get those presentations and strategies out, and deliver quite an efficient service to the client, I guess you'd say.

Annie Kane:  Are you actually now doing SME loans, now, or is Anthony still handling those?

Luke Harborne:        Oh, big time, yeah. Oh, I love it. Yeah. I love it now, because a lot of them have already gone to the bank, and a lot of the bankers put them in the too-hard basket. They get really surprised when you go back to them and say, "Hang on. I've really had a look into your financials, and I think we can do something more here." That gets a really good response from the client, who has been told by a bank previously no.

Annie Kane:  Is that because you're finding a different lender, or because you're managing to present the deal in a way that the bank finds attractive?

Luke Harborne:        Yeah, well I think the self-employed clients, obviously different lenders have different appetites for self-employed. For example, if you look at ANZ or St. George, if they were just starting up and their most recent year was their best, obviously you place them with someone like that. But they're more likely just to walk into the person that they have their banking with, so they might, by chance, walk into a bank that has to look at the most recent two years. They'll average them out, or the worst out of the most recent two years in isolation, even if that was the sixteen instead of the seventeen, for example. So being able to A, pick the right lender for them, B, but also really look at their financials, really look into it and look what you can do for them. Yeah.

Annie Kane:  Has there been anything that you've found, since you've moved from the customer service manager role to broking, that sort of surprised you, that you weren't expecting? Or has it all been pretty much smooth sailing, and you knew everything, as in you knew what to expect?

Luke Harborne:        You hear a lot of phone calls in the office. I mean, we've got a pretty close quarters in there. You could literally throw a blanket around myself and Fletch. It's kind of like I'll sit in the corner here. Anthony's on my right side, and Fletcher now is on my left side, and we're all close. We all hear the conversations, and I kind of knew what I was getting into, just based on what I'd heard from some of the conversations Anthony's had with his people, solicitors, getting those settlement dates met, which is first and foremost the most important thing.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. You have to really get some tough skin, I think, as well.

Luke Harborne:        Yeah.

Annie Kane:  And Anthony, for you is there anything that was a surprise when you brought Luke on as a broker, that you hadn't maybe anticipated before he had stepped up to that role?

Anthony O’Flynn:     Probably the most important thing is the enthusiasm. From previous employees that I've had the enthusiasm wasn't there at Luke's level. I think the secret to it is, he was happy to learn the hard yards and do the customer reviews, and build a rapport with clients and understand what they're doing. He laughs at me giving him 10 files, but it was more just to have a look at what to expect in the future, and how to look at clients' files, et cetera. I think through that groundwork of not jumping straight into a broker, but learn the back office, learn how customer service is important and how to interact with clients, that helps to build that expectation. So when you start dealing with clients, especially with purchasers and looking at refinances, the clients understand what their expectations are, and you have that ability to understand what they're going through. That's the biggest thing. People buying homes, it's very emotional.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

Anthony O’Flynn:     You've got to put yourself in their feet to be able to do it. I think Luke learning that through the existing client base and then growing and understanding clients' needs has made him one of the better brokers that I've ever dealt with. It's to his credit that he's put the effort in, and day in day out he astounds me at ... Not scared of picking up self-employed and going, "How do we work through this?"

            We brainstorm a lot of things in the office, looking at some complex trusts, et cetera. But he's always coming up with ideas. I think that's one of the small things that ... I was very set in my ways, banking 35 years, traditional old style banker, bank manager, and someone comes along that's got new ideas, it's the ability to be able to sit down with them and say, "Hey, let's give it a go. We're small business. We don't need to go through red tape. We can put processes in place, and design things that will work for clients. If they don't, we drop them. If we don't, we tweak them and change them, and do what we need to."

            I think that's one of the successes of being young, and Luke jumping into the role as a broker. He's had the groundwork from the past to understand what it is to be a broker, but also to understand what a client wants out of the relationship. I think having that understanding helps make him one of the better brokers.

Annie Kane:  I think it's really interesting as well, having a mentor in effect being someone that you work with as well. A lot of new brokers might choose a mentor that isn't necessarily in their office. If they're in a big branded group, for example, they might choose someone from outside the group. How has, for you, the benefit of having a sort of Anthony next to you really helped that learning curve? Do you think that it would have been the same, if you'd had mentors externally, and joined a different brokerage?

Luke Harborne:        Oh certainly. Having Anthony's like having, in my opinion, one of the best brokers in Australia next to you, and to come to with any question, and as much as I'm happy to ask, he's always happy to spend time helping me work through any scenario or strategy. Yeah, I definitely wouldn't be as successful as I am now, and the business wouldn't be as successful as it is, if it wasn't Anthony O Flynn there and it was someone else.

Annie Kane:  That's so nice.

Luke Harborne:        It's a pleasure to work with him. It's really funny. We've had a long relationship. When we came to Sydney, because my family lived in Moree.  Whenever we came to Sydney for a trip, or Dad used to love coming down for the footie or the cricket or whatever it was, and we'd stay at Anthony's place out at Camden. So I grew up friend with Anthony's children. It's kind of funny, and then there was a gap where maybe 10 years, I didn't see Anthony once, and then all of a sudden working for him. I was very nervous, obviously, but I don't know, we got on like a house on fire. Yeah, we're really good mates now.

Annie Kane:  Is it weird for his kids that you're now mates with their dad?

Luke Harborne:        It's funny, I did Anthony's daughter's loan, because obviously he didn't want to be that involved on it. He passed that onto me, and she'll call me. It's very funny, yeah.

Annie Kane:  It's a lot of pressure as well, doing your boss's daughter's loans.

Luke Harborne:        Oh yeah. She's the number one client. Yeah, she's the number one client.

Annie Kane:  But in terms of actually then, you mentioned a little bit about the KPIs and the whiteboard to begin with, and Anthony, you said about Luke coming to you and running through scenarios. How does the training side of things work? Is it like a little bit and often, just in the office ad hoc? Or is it you set aside, let's say, I don't know, an hour every week or something to go through? How does the structure work?

Anthony O’Flynn:     We basically try to set an hour aside every week, and every file will be looked at and we'll go through what the hotspots are, what things we need to jump on, what are our hurdles at the present time, and that's where I've become, probably sit back a little bit more that I've got Luke now and another, Fletcher, who's looking to become a broker as well, as trying to guide them through the pathways, and how to speak to lenders, and where to go, and how to get over those roadblocks. That's probably a weekly basis, we do that.

            We try to work through a lot of the self-employed a little bit further, the more complex ones like we said before, just to try and get that experience in understanding that. We also through the whiteboard, set ourselves targets, and like I said, I've never done that before, but it really inspires you to say, "Well hang on, this is where we are. We're halfway through the month. Where are our deals coming from this month? What have we got started in the pipeline for next month?" I think once you start looking at that, you tend to focus more on the business, whereas ... I was working in the business before, but now I'm working on the business. I think that's the most important thing to do, as you grow the business.

            From someone that's 50, I never really thought that would be the case. I see a lot of financial planners that just go along with their business day in and day out. Having young people really gives you that enthusiasm to go, "Okay. Where can we take this business?" Because in the future, it's their business. I've always said that to them. It's their business. They're growing their own future as well, not only for me, but it's for them.

Annie Kane:  Well, looking into the future, we at the moment are having, obviously, a lot of scrutiny in the sector. You mentioned a little bit there about financial planning as well, and obviously now we've just started the Royal Commission Hearings on the financial planning side of things. We already had them for credit lending. I just wondered what your thoughts are on the current scrutiny the sector is getting. Do you think it's warranted, or do you think it's well-informed?

Anthony O’Flynn:     Look, I think ... There was an article written the other day to say that the banks are hiding behind the brokers, and I think that's a big thing. The banks are out there to look to blame someone, and again we're the easy target. I think we do a lot of work, and I think clients wouldn't have the choice or the options that they do have now, with us being able to provide the number of platforms out there, the products that we can provide. I think all the brokers that I talk to, everyone does the right thing by their clients. There's no one out there trying to take a shortcut, or are driven by commissions in today's society. They're all doing the right thing by their clients, and I think that's the most important thing.

            I think they lose fact that most of us are very client orientated, and want to put our heads on the pillow at night and be able to say, "We're doing the best for our clients." I think at the present time, that the commission and the banks are just trying to blame other people. It gets very frustrating when you start reading this, especially when they say we're not disclosing commissions, et cetera. We do that. It's the high level of executives in the bank that don't understand how the coalface works. That's a disappointing thing.

Annie Kane:  We've had that a lot, actually, people saying, "We're not entirely sure that everyone understands how broking works, even people working in lending." These changes now as well with Westpac and ANZ and the other two Big Four banks releasing the new broker interview guide, and people being like, "We already do this with all the sort of needs analysis, and we already collect all this information. Why are we now having to go through the same thing, but a different format?"

Anthony O’Flynn:     Exactly. We get ordered to do it by ... We're with BLSSA. We get ordered every 12 months on the files. Now the lenders are saying, "We want to audit you as well." I'm saying, "Where does it stop?" BLSSA who our licence, our responsibilities are held with, and if we have misconduct, BLSSA will take care of it. BLSSA is very approachable and always got our best interests. I think the third party of these banks coming in to try and stand over us again really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. I think hopefully the commissioners will be able to see through some of this finger-pointing. But I just wanted to ask a little bit as well. I know it's sort of, because you used to work at CBA. I'm just curious, with the new accreditation changes that have been brought in, and for you, Luke, I mean they've now got a requirement that you need to have at least two years' experience, and I think potentially there might be a loophole, if you have a mentor you can still put through a loan. But I mean, what, in your sort of mind ... Are those accreditation changes helpful, or are they hindering?

Luke Harborne:        For someone my age, I would find that very hindering. I mean, CommBank's one of the Big Four, and a lot of people, amongst everything that's said about them, still trust them as their bank.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

Luke Harborne:        A lot of people have grown up with them from the dollarmites programme, and have all of their accounts with Comm, so for them as a new broker coming to the market ... and I have to look at Fletcher who is looking to do that, coming through, if he, for two years of his broking career can't have access to a CommBank product, just based on those more rigorous standards that they're putting in place, then that can really hurt a new broker coming into the market. Which, it's not good for the client at the end of the day, if they're missing out on a range of products that could have suited their needs, and been more convenient or more suitable for that client. Yeah.

Annie Kane:  Anthony, I won't ask you that question obviously, because you used to work at CBA. I don't want to put you in the hot seat there. But I just wondered if there was anything that you really hope that the industry will either bring in, or get rid of in the coming months, to try and get over this whole scrutiny and all this bad press that we're getting at the moment. Is there anything that you think, "I wish we could do this," or "I wish we didn't do this," that you think would benefit the sector?

Anthony O’Flynn:     I think the advice is the best, that I think again providing clients with a number of products and then recommending one out of those I think is the best thing. I think as long as we fold down the financial planning, my biggest thing is on advice. Clients want choice, and I think us brokers have to give our clients choice. I think that's a big thing. But I think as long as we educate our up-and-coming brokers, and myself continue the education process, I think education is the key to success and continue to grow the broker industry. But also, I think that as individuals, we should be giving clients a lot of choice as well. I think that's a big thing. I think as soon as a broker's got advice, and give them different choices of products, and then we recommend one product, I think that'll make the business a lot more sustainable, and people will look at it and go, "You're not just doing it for commission. You gave me a number of choices." This way of selecting, I think that's important.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. Not just letting a loan that's not unsuitable.

Anthony O’Flynn:     That's exactly right.

Annie Kane:  One that's actually, hopefully, good for them.

Anthony O’Flynn:     That's right.

Annie Kane:  So just to finish up, because we're running out of time a little bit now, you guys obviously have a very good working relationship from the sounds of it, friends as well as colleagues, but is there anything that, Anthony, you would recommend to brokers potentially looking to hire new staff, that you would say, "These are my top tips." And on the flip side, Luke, is there anything that you would say to new brokers looking for a mentor, that you'd say, maybe, "Look out for these things"?

Luke Harborne:        You go first mate.

Anthony O’Flynn:     Well, I think the first thing for any young broker coming through is to learn the business. It's to start, not just jump in and seeing clients from day one. I really think the strength, and we've just put on another young person, 21-year-old, this week. The big thing for him is, he starts the same way Luke did. Learn the process, understand what your clients are, start learning all about the products out there. Build the customer service relationship. I think that's the important part. Understand what clients want, and how to talk to clients. Then start doing the small top-up loans where I oversee them, et cetera, and then build up your relationship that way with clients.

            I think that's the secret to it. I think once you get thrown in the deep end, and you're hitting deadlines to do with settlements, refinances, construction loans, puts a young broker under a lot of pressure. That's where the industry will start to fall down. I think they've got to gradually go through that training programme and education. I think the mentoring's the best thing you can do. As long as they're sitting with you, you're overseeing them all the time. The people that we put on, they're clean, they're eager and sometimes you've just got to say, "Slow up a little bit. Let's walk through the process a bit slower." I think that's a success.

Annie Kane:  Thanks.

Anthony O’Flynn:     I think it took me a long time to learn that, but once you get some young people on there with the keenness, I think you only grow from there.

Annie Kane:  Yeah, that's great. Luke?

Luke Harborne:        Yeah, I think you've just got to make sure they've got a lot of grey hairs. I can say that Anthony probably adapted to that mentoring role very well. I think he grew in patience. Oh, I struggled initially. Loan strategy, what's the best for the client. Obviously, I'm trying to learn while there's lots of changes going or happening in the industry. For example, the first big one, that kind of really put all of my previous work under a bit of scrutiny was the interest-only loans became more expensive. So clients' rates suddenly jumping a half a percent, for example, and then investments became more expensive.

            The strategies that we were recommending only months ago became void, and you had to kind of retouch base with that client, and that kind of thing. But yeah, Anthony's patience and dedication to making sure that I could learn the best to my ability is probably what you want in a mentor. Someone you can trust as well, and that's something that's very important in this kind of relationship, where it's such a small office that we can trust each other with tasks, and it's a two-way street on that front. Yeah.

Annie Kane:  Well, thank you both for coming onto the podcast, and sharing your story.

Luke Harborne:        Thanks for having us.

Annie Kane:  Good luck with training up Fletcher as well, coming in.

 

Luke Harborne:        Yeah.

Annie Kane:  We'll definitely keep an eye out to how he's going.

Luke Harborne:        Yes.

Annie Kane:  I'm sure we'll see you again in the 30 Under 30 ranking.

Luke Harborne:        Hopefully.

Annie Kane:  For all other news and features, please visit theadvisor.com.au, and tune into our sister podcast, Mortgage Business Uncut, for everything else that's happening in the mortgage industry. Thank you and catch you next week.

 

 

The making of a mentor: How IFA Mortgages does it
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