The path to recruitment can be paved with challenges, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. However, as brokers continue to see high levels of enquiries from borrowers wanting to refinance and FHBs seeking to enter the property market, now might be the right time to hire additional staff. A robust recruitment process can help brokers ensure that hiring new staff is a smooth journey for them and the new employees.
With the Australian economy still reeling amid the coronavirus pandemic, mortgage brokers might be wondering if now is the right time to even contemplate recruiting new staff.
Demand for new property purchases from clients might have dropped off during the COVID-19 crisis, but there has been record demand for mortgage refinances, especially as interest rates remain at record lows.
As such, Roland Youakim, founder and director of mortgage broking recruitment firm Platinum People Group, says this increased activity offers an opportunity for brokers to ensure they have the capacity to help.
To keep up with this, as well as organic growth, mortgage brokers may need to recruit more staff to provide the required support. This could take the form of including additional mortgage brokers, loan processors, loan packagers or even analysts who can help handle the increasing volumes, lender requirements and compliance.
“We’re still seeing a lot of mortgage broking businesses hire support staff and PAYG brokers to join their team because of the level of enquiry that they’ve got,” Mr Youakim says.
While the recruitment process is not easy for any business, brokerages can alleviate some of the pain points by implementing a process that aligns with their vision for growth in their business.
According to Mr Youakim, brokerages and business owners need to specify what each candidate’s position and capabilities should be, formulate job descriptions that align with those capabilities and requirements, and know when to hire and how to hire the most suitable candidates effectively.
Above all, hiring employees who are a good cultural fit can ensure that a brokerage can run like a well-oiled machine, he tells The Adviser.
Impetus for recruitment
When a broker establishes a brokerage, they might not have the capacity to recruit extra staff. However, once the business begins to grow, they might need extra assistance so that they can focus on client-facing activities.
When Welshpool-based Loan Market broker Balpreet Bal, senior finance specialist at WA Prime Finance Solutions, established his brokerage in 2014, he found it challenging to grow his business, especially without any additional resources.
He recruited a full-time client services manager two years after establishing his business, which increased his capacity and enabled him to focus on his clients.
“I think that was a big gamble that we took at that point, but it paid off,” Mr Bal told The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast.
Explaining the impetus for recruiting staff, Mr Bal said once a brokerage becomes busier, there is a risk that service levels can drop without additional assistance.
“We realised that if we keep going like this and if we keep growing like this, we may not be able to provide the same sort of service level to our clients,” he said.
Chart out capabilities
Once a broker has decided to recruit staff, they need to be clear about what they require from their new hire.
Jonathan Lee, principal of Mortgage Choice Williamstown in inner-west Melbourne, told Elite Broker that when he first opened shop, he struggled not only to find the right people for the job, but to also specify their job roles.
“I think I did a lot of hiring people without knowing what they were actually doing,” Mr Lee said.
“So, it was about having that process down pat first. Then you can slot the people in there and go, this is what your job description is, this is what you need to do.”
When hiring staff, brokers need clarity on whether they want a “hunter” or a “farmer”, according to Equilibria Finance managing director Anthony Landahl.
“Are we looking for someone who’s going to bring on board new business (hunter) or essentially just write the business that gets generated by the business (farmer)?” Mr Landahl told The Adviser.
He said that while he looks after lead generation, he recruits practitioners with technical skills, client management skills and someone who understands processes and systems without necessarily having the ability or desire to hunt for leads.
“If you’re looking at a hunter, it’s a different type of profile in terms of the sort of person you’re looking for,” he said.
Clients can be a goldmine
After mapping out responsibilities and capabilities, the next step is finding suitable candidates. Brokers have chosen different routes to spot new talent, including finding candidates within their professional network.
However, one broker who has taken a unique approach to recruiting the right staff is Rise High Financial Services director James Schulze, who sees even his clients as potential candidates.
“We thought potentially we’ve met some clients that we’ve worked with, we have really clicked with them, and thought these guys are really great people, they’d be an amazing mortgage broker,” Mr Schulze told Elite Broker.
“In those cases, I’ve actually floated the idea with them, and that’s been our hiring process.”
However, Mr Schulze said he has used a combination of traditional hiring processes as well as networking to hire his administration staff.
The right fit
Once a broker has hired staff, Mr Youakim says brokers need to establish how often they are going to track their performance through regular check-ins to ensure that they are meeting the criteria specified in their job description.
“You want to make sure you have good processes in place to hire the right person, manage them correctly, and allocate the time to be good leaders, as ultimately, this is your loyalty and retention strategy,” he says.
Implementing a sound recruitment process can make life easier for both the brokerage and new employees. But it is not just proficient technical skills and client management capabilities that matter when hunting for talent.
Brokers like Mr Schulze ensure that his recruits not only fit the role, but are a good cultural fit for his business.
“We want to make sure that anyone coming in will bring in a positive element to the team. [Not doing so] might be detrimental to the culture and energy of the team,” he concluded.
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.
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