Support is crucial for brokers to succeed, both on a personal and professional level. The Adviser catches up with FAST partnership manager Hien Nguyen and Hills Mortgage Brokers' Jocelyn Goh to understand how they work together to deliver a strong broker business.
What have you learned from each other as broker/partnership manager over the years?
Ms Nguyen: Something I learned from working with Jocelyn, as a broker, is how she deals with people and customers. How she always puts the customer first and how it’s really about the relationship, not just the transaction which is just the deal. We have relationships with brokers for very long term and see how they interact with their friends and family. So, for me, it’s seeing and learning how she interacts with her customers and manages them.
Ms Goh: Hien has amazing interpersonal skills, not only on a professional level but also on a personal level. And she also has a very proactive and positive attitude, and I think that's exactly the quality needed by brokers in our industry.
She has a great attitude and personality, which is suited to being a great manager. Apart from being really business-minded, she is also very caring and considerate of others. She does make an effort to learn the personal details of her brokers as well as share and support our work goals.
So, I think that sets her apart from other managers and BDMs, and that’s why I enjoy working with her. She is different from all the other managers I deal with. I would consider Hien not only as my partnership manager but also as a friend.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your current working environment?
Ms Nguyen: For me, I guess, one of the challenges is ensuring that — with all the changes with ASIC and APRA and regulators — my brokers are completely up to date and understand the seriousness of furthering their training. So, I guess that has been a big challenge at the moment.
I’m ensuring that I visit them quite often and am always in touch, and whenever there are changes we make them aware. And being really involved in the business to understand what their processes are and uncovering any issues if there are any and working with them towards a solution.
Ms Goh: My answer is exactly the same: the regulatory changes, keeping up with compliance . . . We're busy enough trying to get through the day, but the compliance is such a major factor recently. It's good that FAST is there to support us and keep us on top of it.
You both work with many brokers/BDMs. Are there any common issues that come up that you think brokers/BDMs could work on to make the working relationship stronger?
Ms Nguyen: I think brokers could be more proactive in keeping up to date with the constant changes in the industry. We do a lot of that as an aggregator, keeping brokers up to date, or making sure they are aware of any changes, but also taking feedback and listening to the partnership manager. Because, obviously, it’s in their best interest to do so when it comes to their business, which is really their livelihood. This is especially critical when it comes to compliance and making sure processes are put into place. But, with so many changes in the past two years, I’ve seen quite a few brokers who had to leave the industry due to issues with lenders due to poor compliance and processes. So, for me, I’d like to see brokers take that a little bit more seriously.
I think the other thing has to do with feedback. If there are complaints or issues with lenders, they should provide their partnership manager with feedback, because if we don’t know what's going on, we can’t help. So, always keep the communication channels open and let us know if there are any issues [as] we can take it further and do something about it. So, I’d ask brokers to be more honest and open about any issues they have with industry or lenders.
Ms Goh: I’d like my BDMs and partnership mangers to keep in touch all the time and more often. I find a lot of BDMs wait for us to come to them or approach them first. I think they should send us a weekly email or update, just to keep us in the loop of what is going on. With some of our lenders, I've never heard from a BDM; I don’t even know who my BDM is. Because we have to look at keeping up with so many lenders, it can be quite difficult. If they could at least put forward some communication, even if it’s just a one-page email, that would be really helpful.
You already have a strong working and personal relationship. What advice would you give to others looking to build their relationships with their brokers/BDMs?
Ms Nguyen: For me, I think it's finding that connection with your broker or customer. No matter how different you are or your background, there is always something in common that you can find and connect on a personal level. Also, being as open and honest with each other as possible. If I say I will do something, or even if I say I can’t do something, I always keep my promises and don’t promise something I can’t deliver. That helps build that trust.
Also, by being open and honest and being able to talk to each other, it means you can have those tough conversations — looking at challenges and forming them into opportunities and working with the broker and understanding their business and concepts and what drives them every day and what builds their business. Knowing all of that means that you can work with them to achieve their goals.
Ms Goh: I agree with being open and honest. Another thing I would say is, having mutual respect for each other is also essential for a successful relationship. I think when managers see their brokers just as clients, it’s not enough; you need to develop a deeper connection in the professional relationship.
Hien motivates me a lot to always be my best (I don’t know if she knows that, but she does!), and on the flipside of that, I'm also conscious that I don’t want to let her down. It's a two-way communication and two-way benefit; if I put in an effort with my manager and use their advice, experience and knowledge, that works to my advantage as well.
About Hien Nguyen
As a refugee from the Vietnam War, Hien Nguyen walked a path to financial services that was both unconventional and fascinating. Together with her seven siblings and extended family, she fled Vietnam as a young child on her father's fishing boat. She and her loved ones spent time at a Philippine refugee camp before settling in Brisbane, Australia.
At the age of 18, after leaving school, Ms Nguyen worked as a hairdresser, a job she held for 10 years. When she left that industry, she worked for one of the clients at an IT leasing company that provided financing for asset finance goods. It was here, while working as a sales support staff, that Ms Nguyen found her passion for the finance industry. She later moved to NAB's asset finance and mobile banking team, then to Advantedge Financial Services, before joining FAST in 2015.
About Jocelyn Goh
Jocelyn Goh, broker and principal at Hills Mortgage Brokers in Sydney, entered the broking industry in 2009, when she was offered a part-time role at her uncle's thriving broking business in Sydney. She found it to be a natural fit.
She had previously worked in banking and finance for a large telecommunications company after completing a business and commerce degree at the University of Western Sydney.
After working for her uncle for two years, Ms Goh made the transition to start her own business in 2012 and became a FAST broker herself. It was here that she was teamed up with Hien Nguyen, one of FAST’s partnership managers.
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