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How brain surgery changed this broker’s life

How brain surgery changed this broker’s life

Lee Wisniewski, Loan Market Lee Wisniewski, Loan Market
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Loan Market’s Lee Wisniewski talks to The Adviser team about his journey from car salesman to mortgage broker, the ups and downs he’s encountered throughout and how he survived a life-threatening brain hemorrhage.

This broker has a passion for people and helping them achieve positive outcomes. In this episode, he also discusses the mistakes he has made along the way, what he has learned and the advice he would give to his younger self.

You will also find out:

  • His venture into the fitness business 
  • His thoughts on new technology
  • Why he supports community projects

 

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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:

Grow and diversify your business with Reverse Mortgages
ASIC on broker remuneration and ‘good consumer outcomes’
REA lacks ‘competitive advantage’ in broker channel
Opinion: Commissions are great for consumers

 

Full Transcript

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Elite Broker podcast. This is your host, Annie Kane.

Annie Kane: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the Advisor's Elite Broker podcast. This week we are joined by Lee Wisniewski from Loan Market down in Melbourne, and we're gonna hear all about how he has found broking in his first two years of the industry, how he got into broking, his amazing story with brain surgery, and also what he's been finding in terms of finding leads and using technology to do that. So, welcome, Lee. Thanks for coming in.

Lee Wisniewski: Thank you very much for having me.

Annie Kane:  Good. Also, we've got James in the studio with me. James Mitchell, as always. How are you doing, James?

James Mitchell: Good, thanks. Good to be here. I thought you were gonna say, "Wisniewski," with a Polish accent.

Lee Wisniewski: So did I.

Annie Kane:  I thought I did.

James Mitchell: Wisniewski.

Annie Kane:  Wisniewski. I thought I did, but I didn't lay into it that hard.

Lee Wisniewski: I'm happy just watching this. It's actually pretty good. The head movements and everything's just great.

Annie Kane:  Wisniewski. Sorry. Just offending all Polish people out there. So, I think, Lee, if we just get started as we do with most people when they go into the podcast. How did you get into this industry, because its not something that you wanted to sort of you know ... necessarily woke up one morning and go, "I'm going to be a mortgage broker!" There's a little journey there. How did that happen?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, definitely. When I was 18, I actually ... When I left school I didn't know what I wanted to do, and people then said I might be good at selling stuff. So I thought, "Well, what can I sell?" So I thought the biggest ticket item I could possibly sell would be property. So, naturally, I called up a few places, a few real estate agents and said, "Hey, I'm looking for a gig. I want to sell houses." And they said, "How old are you?" "18." And they said, "Forget it, kid. You're not selling houses. Come back and see us when you've bought and or sold a few."

            So that was a bit dejecting, but not to be defeated I went and decided next best thing would be maybe to sell cars. So, again, turned up for an interview to sell cars. They thought it was hilarious. I turned up in a plum suit like a train conductor.

Annie Kane: Oh, that's fetching.

Lee Wisniewski: Double-breasted.

James Mitchell: Wow. I wouldn't even now where to get a plum suit.

Annie Kane:  Oh, double-breasted as well? Wow.

Lee Wisniewski: With a Mickey Mouse tie and a satin… And I had no idea what I was doing. They thought that was hilarious and they subsequently gave me the job just based on that, I think.

James Mitchell: That's so good.

Lee Wisniewski: So I was selling cars when I was 18 and then after a few years of doing that and doing quite well I realised the guy in the corner office with the better suit, the one that didn't shine and have a Mickey Mouse tie, he seemed to be doing quite well and didn't have much to do, either. So that's kind of the job I wanted, which was finance. So I worked towards that goal, became a finance manager at car dealerships selling finance and insurance to people who had just bought cars.

            So finance and insurance, then, naturally, after a few years after that I decided that, that's where I was gonna be. This is my calling. And then one day I woke up with a headache, and the headache got worse. And we put it down to stress. In fact, I went to a doctor after three days of a headache, and the doctor said, "Hey, I think that it's nothing. It's probably just stress. Take some Nurofen Plus." So he sent me home with Nurofen Plus ... And I'll speed that story up because two days later I was in intensive care. I'd had my brain operated on. I'd had emergency brain surgery because I had a severe brain haemorrhage.

James Mitchell: Bloody hell.

Annie Kane: Wow. How old were you?

Lee Wisniewski: I was actually 25. That was in 2008.

Annie Kane: Is that unusual?

Lee Wisniewski: It is unusual, yeah. I had a cyst on my brain I had no idea that I had. We've all got cysts around our body but I just didn't know that it was there, and it caused my head to ... sort of, the veins inside my head to stretch and then burst.

            So I don't know if any of you guys are snoozers. You know when you hit the alarm in the morning and the snooze goes off? Well, that's what I did metaphorically. So I hit, "Snooze," and I went back to what I knew, which was the car industry. And I don't even like cars so I don't know why I did that. I think I did it because of comfort. So I went back to that and, I think, for a couple of years I was kind of lost. I really thought, "Well, why have I been saved? What's my purpose? What do I really want to do?"

Annie Kane:  Makes you really evaluate everything.

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, it does. And I joined a boot camp, actually. It's actually part of the story. So I joined a boot camp and it changed my life. I lost a lot of weight, I became fit, I studied to be a personal trainer on the weekends. I thought, "You know what? Helping people. This is really where it's at. I really want to do this and help people." But the only way I could do that is if I had my weekends back. So I decided at that point that something had to give. I couldn't work six days a week, every Saturday, in the car industry. So I actually got a job working for the insurer who I used to sell products for at the car dealership. And that's how it went.

            So I went and worked for those guys, working my five days so I could run that fitness business part-time that I just took over. So we decided that we'd take over that fitness business. We built it back up to quite a big one. So as a part-time gig, while working full-time as an account manager for that insurer, it was a pretty big ask because we were working 50, 60 hours a week, plus then working on the weekends and helping people. We'd have 100 people doing boot camp sessions. So that was quite a lot of people doing a session with seven contractors. And eventually I got a promotion at work, which was really tough because I had to make a decision there and then that, do I move to Melbourne? Because I lived in Geelong at the time. Do I move to Melbourne and follow my career and get this promotion to the State Manager role, which was well-paying and it was a big company. But it would mean I would have to sell the business, the boot camp. Or do I run the boot camp, which wasn't necessarily profitable. It was more of a hobby.

            So the decision was made that, yeah, we had to move to Melbourne, and quit doing the boot camps. We sold that to Jet's franchise and moved to Melbourne, and I was now the State Manager of this insurance company. And after a few months, or probably about a year of doing that I felt it was the wrong decision, and it's just because my passion is in helping people and I just felt like, given that I don't like cars, being in the car industry now with no other purpose on the side ... I felt kind of lost. So I made the decision two years ago that, hey, I've got a passion for property. I've always had this passion for property, and especially being an investor myself. I've got a passion for helping people. And the skill that I've built in finance. Hey, we could put all these together. So I made the plunge. I quit my job, my good job that I just moved to Melbourne for, and moved my wife with me to Melbourne, so we'd both moved. And I quit it and became a broker. I literally just backed myself, jumped feet-first into being a broker full-time.

James Mitchell: And you joined Loan Market straight away?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, I did. My broker at the time, actually, Sarah Thompson, she pretty much showed me that Loan Market people are good people.

Annie Kane:  Well, we've had Sarah on the podcast already and actually it was Lee who recommended her to us. But, I just want to ask, and obviously you were saying there that the idea for broking was because you already had the finance sort of knowledge and know-how, and as you said earlier, the passion for property. But I wonder, did you ever go back to that real estate agents that turned you down originally when you were 18 and been like, "Can I have a job, or?"

Lee Wisniewski: No.

Annie Kane:  But did that ever cross your mind?

James Mitchell: I've flipped three properties, give me a job.

Lee Wisniewski: No, I didn't, and you know what? I can blame it on brain surgery. I actually forgot who they are. I've got no idea. I've got no idea who they are, but if you're listening, yeah, look, you've missed out. You missed out.

Annie Kane: Well done.

James Mitchell: I mean, it's funny how things work. From that rejection in a sense you moved into cars, and it's funny. I think we can often think at the time that things are a bit of a mish-mash or we're not suited to what we're doing. But when you look back, like you've just done a retrospective, everything has its cause and effect. And what I found really interesting about that earlier part of your story is getting into the fitness and the boot camp, but then ... and this is a lead, which not many people would take, is to do that and then think, "This is great. I'm working with people. I'm in a social aspect. I'm with people." But also, "I'm gonna make a business out of this in addition to doing my ...," You know what I mean?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah.

James Mitchell: I'm sure people might have thought that, but very few people actually take the action.

Annie Kane: Take in the extra work.

James Mitchell: Take on the extra work. So what was it like balancing that out? I mean, you spoke a bit about it, but in terms of doing your nine-to-five and then on the weekends. Because it's funny. My weekends I like to try and do some sort of physical activity, but did you think of it like that? Like I'm just getting fit on the weekends. Or was it like running a business?

Lee Wisniewski: It was a bit of both. I think that fitness is not a passion of mine. Helping people is a passion of mine. So helping people achieve positive outcomes is a passion of mine, and that's probably ... well, it would definitely be showing with our clients now, and the way we conduct our business day to day, because helping people is why I do this. It's not because I love finance. It's not because I love numbers. It's literally because I like to actually help people, and I think the better I am at doing what I'm doing, whether that be fitness, whether that be finance ... if I'm really, really good at it and I can share that with other people, then I think that's exactly where my passion lies.

James Mitchell: What was the feeling like when your first client got the finance and bought their first home, and said, "We've just got our first place." What was that like?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, it was great. It was awesome because that was it. It had rang true now, right? So the reason I had taken the plunge was because of that. So I believe if you help enough people get what they want in life, you'll get what you want. And I really do. So everything we stand for is people first and helping them, and then you'll be rewarded justly in due course.

Annie Kane: I mean, so we mentioned Sarah Thompson there from Loan Market. Was she your broker before you became a broker?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. Yeah, she was. When we moved to Geelong, just before we took over that business, Sarah actually helped us organise a home loan. So we had broker previously, a few years before we'd tried, and it's probably a good segue in a minute, I'm sure we'll bring it up about investing. So, we had a broker previously who didn't really stay in his lane, is a nice way to put that. Gave a lot of investment advice, we followed him blindly into our first ever investment very excited at the time. And it was a very bad idea. Which, we still have that property today. And it's worth quite a substantial amount less than we paid for that property. Just because we literally just jumped in blindly into that decision. And I guess working with Sarah, she knows her stuff and she really just stayed in her lane, and she made us feel comfortable from start to finish, so ...

James Mitchell: That's good.

Lee Wisniewski: Definitely some lessons I took from Sarah, that's for sure.

Annie Kane:  So, in terms of actually when you decided to become a broker, and obviously with Loan Market. Was there any shopping around, or did you think, "Oh, I'm just going to go with, what Sarah's doing." Or how did that sort of ... how did you find the brand you were going to go with?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. Well, first of all, Sarah. Loan Market for me was people. So I got invited to a PD day with Loan Market. And I went along to that and I went along not for knowledge it was more to meet people. Because I feel like if you're in the right environment with the right people, I'm very quick to try and find mentors in any industry. Because I believe you can learn from other people. And I think when I met the people at Loan Market, I thought this is a lovely place to be. The guys really nice. They're accommodating, and I really didn't look around anywhere else. I didn't need to, I mean, that was good enough for me.

Annie Kane: Okay.

James Mitchell: That's awesome.

Annie Kane: And so in our December supplement, we are looking at sort of different groups and what they should be sort of branded or unbranded. I'm talking to different brokers, more different sort of, walks of life. People who have set up their own thing. And people who have gone to a franchise, or whatever. If you had any advice ... you've only been doing this two years, so it's still ... you've passed the 18 month mark now, but you're still relatively new to the industry. But if you had any advice to yourself when you were first starting out that you learnt along the way, what would that be? Is there anything that you've learned that is sort of, you wished you'd known then?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. I would say be prepared to work pretty hard if you want a good result. You can join this industry and people join for the wrong reasons sometimes, not all the time. But you know, you think the people that are writing $200 million, we'll make all this money, it's going to be great, and so rainbows. But there's a lot of hard work that goes into even writing $2 million. It's not that easy. And to get them to stick. For me, early on, 15 hour days were not uncommon. So, if you knew the industry, or even if you're thinking about getting into it, you just need to be prepared to work hard. And you really need to have a passion for helping others. Because without those two things, if you do get success it'll be short-lived in my opinion.

Annie Kane:  Mm-hmm… And in terms of, because you're relatively new, is there anything that surprised you about coming into the mortgage broking industry? Is there anything that you felt, "Oh, I didn't think it would work like that?" Or something that you wish could be improved maybe?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. Probably the technology, yeah. And it's not just aggregator specific, just industry specific. Just we've got us a lot of lender software that's being used and some of the policies and it's just a ... There's a lot of comments around it's just because that's the way we've always done it.

Annie Kane:  Yeah.

James Mitchell: Legacy issue sort of thing.

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. And you don't feel okay to challenge that. Because when you challenge it you can't really change it. It's not like running a small boot camp, or running a small business even like I'm running now where you can change things on the fly. I mean, they're big organisations, and it takes a long time to change. Sometimes that's to their detriment. So the most innovative of lenders are going to be taking more of that pie because I think as the young brokers start coming through, technology and just being able to help the client experience is going to be everything.

James Mitchell: Well, yesterday we were just talking about blockchain, weren't we on the Mortgage Business podcast.

Annie Kane: Yeah.

James Mitchell: Which is ...

Annie Kane: I don't know if you'd heard about this, Lee. But there was an article I wrote or The Adviser for the advice about Moneycatcher launching and home chain software which supposedly can do all of this home loan from application settlement on its own so you kind of -

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, blockchain.

Annie Kane: ... once you've actually, but you know a broker would sort of go through the scenario with the client and they would choose what bank they want to use. If the bank had this software, they could say, "Okay, I want this bank and that loan. And then it would just go off and dow it.

Lee Wisniewski: Doesn't surprise me. When I started I said before I was doing sort of 15 hour days, wasn't uncommon I'd work right through to morning. And most of that time at the start was just absorbing lender policy. I'd have an inquiry and I didn't know what to do with it. So, I could ask, our mentor at Loan Market, but it was 2:00 a.m. now, but the time I'm working on it. And so, I had to just learn. I'd go through policy and sift through it. And now a days, I'm still working a 12, 15 hour day sometimes. And most days I'm working 10-12, but it's not work it's now studying the lease stuff, because this where it's headed. And we can't put our head in the sand and think that people always want to speak to brokers because that's the research we've done.

            People don't necessarily want to speak to brokers, they want an expert. And if, when rather, artificial intelligence and things like that can actually do half of that job, there's going to be less of that pie. So I think the real strong brokers, the 805 of our industry that are doing 20% of the work are going to really struggle. Because that 20% of the work is going to go those organisations. Whereas to be a true specialist, is something that we're really looking forward to being able to do. And that takes, again, hard work and you've got to know your stuff. Because people are going to come to you and I think the top 20% of brokers will grab the rest of that business, but there will definitely be the rest of it sort of that middle range, oh yeah, I know I'd be the staff I can do home loan for you. Those days will be numbered because technology will come and take over.

Annie Kane: Wow. We've moved towards about tech and I think a lot of people might know your face from the HashChing adverts.

Lee Wisniewski: Yes. Lucky them.

Annie Kane: Yeah. You're sort of famous, people are like, "Oh yeah, Lee Wisniewski, we know his face." So how did you get involved with HashChing and I mean, obviously you're supportive of technology anyway from the sounds of it. But how did that partnership come around?

Lee Wisniewski: I should be wearing a propeller hat ... oh, yeah. So, I am into technology a lot. That's something which I'm very proud of in our business. HashChing is a perfect partner for that. So, just to give you an idea, with the volumes that we were doing even last year, my first full year of broking, which is just under 50 million in settlements ...

James Mitchell: That's awesome for a first year.

Lee Wisniewski: Thank you. It's the first full year, so it was a year and a half in, but still, yeah. So, that's ... it was a hard slog and I think that was helped along because of technology. And I really only have one referral partner that I would consider a referral partner at this stage. I've got a couple of others that maybe give me a lead a month if that. So, the one referral partner being HashChing. I'm really proud of that because that means every bit of business we get is either HashChing or it's actually our friends, family, repeat business, referrals. So that's the only ones we have. We don't work strongly with any real estate agents, or accountants and financial planners. We really don't have that relationship.

            So HashChing for us, and we've given it the respect it deserves I guess from day one. So, HashChing and I ... I found them on an advert I think at the time. And I just registered and said, "Let's give this a shot." Because I'd rather, to be honest, I'd rather that the leads come through technology. I don't have to go and run around to real estate agents. And in some regards I don't have to pretend, because there's going to be personality conflicts in every business, and I don't have to pretend that, "Hey, we're going to get along just because people are sending me leads and vice versa."

            So HashChing and I we work pretty well because we get a lot of business. A lot of leads anyway through HashChing. And every time one comes through we treat it with the respect, like I said, it really deserves.

James Mitchell: That's cool.

Annie Kane:  How many sort of leads do you think you get from that?

Lee Wisniewski: When I started, probably 10 a month. 10-12, and then based on a conversion rate of kind of 10-15%, that meant we'd be doing 1-2 loans a month from HashChing. The rest were coming from friends, family, or repeat business. As time goes on, the better you get, as in the higher the strike rates, so if you hover over 10% with HashChing and you get some good reviews, you can be a premium broker. And when you become a premium broker, you get higher volume leads. So the bigger ones, you know, the $500 million+. And then of course you can get more leads. So I think everyone that's on that platform or giving it a shot needs to really work it hard. And again, give it the respect it deserves when you do get a lead. Because if you can convert, you'd be rewarded justly down the track.

James Mitchell: Yeah. I think that's a really good point in terms of giving these things the respect they deserve like you said. Because, I know there's been some brokers who have taken models like HashChing for example, and really run with them, such as yourself. But then there's some who, and we see them in the comments section of The Adviser. Wherever there's a new technology or something's come out and on aggregators doing any lead generation thing, they'll slam it and say, "This is old news. It's never going to work." You know what I mean? But I think people can be very close-minded about different offerings coming to the market, but just as you said, giving it the respect it deserves and the time and the dedication to ... I mean because, it's one of your sole lead generation channels…

Annie Kane: Yeah, I think it's brave to only have one source really. I think my concern being better to be conservative in anything financial. I would kind of want to spread my wings a little bit more and kind of be like, "Oh, I'll have a referral there, and I'll have a source here and I'll have a source here." And maybe also have the technology. I think it's interesting that you've just gone solely with this partner.

James Mitchell: I guess you sort of cross it though. In terms of technology and the system and how it works to graduate a process. And you become premium broker and you get more leads and you get bigger deals and that sort of stuff.

Lee Wisniewski: Yep.

James Mitchell: I'm guessing that a number of brokers who may be aware of HashChing might not spend that time to get to know it in that much detail to sort of get across it. Do you know what I mean?

Annie Kane: Yeah. I think also, I mean, you gave us a lovely segue earlier. You were talking about the investment property and I just completely moved past it. I'm going to move back to it now, I'm sorry.

Lee Wisniewski: I have repressed it.

Annie Kane: You set it up for me and I just ignored it. Yeah, so investment property.

Lee Wisniewski: Smooth.

Annie Kane:  We were talking about your past investment and sort of saying how it actually was bad advice from a broker originally that had kind of led to that. What have you been doing since then? What have you learnt from that in terms of actually developing your own investment portfolio? And then secondly, moving on after that, how have you found the investment market for your clients?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. So for me, I'm certainly no investment guru. I've learned from mistakes unfortunately, from one myself early on. But now I learn from the mistakes of others as well. The early broker originally ran investment seminars. Would get industry professionals, so we're talking professional professionals around the country that we would all know. The Chris Graves of this world. So some really great professionals to come and do some talks and to chat. And he, with the right intentions, had actually, and this is the broker I'm talking about ... with the right intentions had actually gone and sourced an investment that he and nine of his clients were going to get involved in. So, he also bought a unit in this complex as did we. And it was just a really poor decision. We have ourselves to blame because we made the call to do it. But we did it a bit blindly because our first investment, we got excited in, and caught up in the theatre of it a bit.

            The one thing that we definitely did do well for us in that moment though, and still, right intentioned, right? But was we didn't cross-secure that property with our own home. And I think that was very valuable because we certainly wouldn't have acquired any more property to this day if we had. So we didn't cross-secure that property. We lost bucket of cash, but over the next few years we saved and paid some more off our property that we owned that we lived in. And we were now then able to duplicate and go into another. So after that we decided ... The thing that we learned was that we need land that's worth something underneath it and not to speculate. Just to find an area where it's, people want to live. It's very simple right? So where people want to live ...

Annie Kane: Where did you buy it?

Lee Wisniewski: That one was in Gladestone we've also bought some-

James Mitchell: I was going to ask if it was mining town.

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. Yeah. It was. Mining services. And it's still hovering around okay, but the supply and demand ratio is corked.

James Mitchell: That's right.

Lee Wisniewski: So, as that was the hardest thing for us. And nor did he obviously. Right? Because he bought one too. So, we've since then bought other places in inner city areas like Kangaroo Point on land. So, we've bought in Victoria, and some of the other places where it's in a fast moving stream where people are always going to really want to live, I guess. So, I think we-

James Mitchell: Yeah. Monumental's there?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. The things we learned about that was, speculation is not what you want to be doing with hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you need to know your stuff. You can't blame anyone else. And I hope that this doesn't come across as blaming the broker, because the fact is, we made that decision. And we were naïve and we should have learnt more about it. Because it's such a big decision and it can change the course of someone's life.

James Mitchell: Absolutely.

Lee Wisniewski: And cause anxiety too, in your household and that's really tough moving forward, so ... We've definitely come through that, but we've come through it because we've educated ourselves and what's the right thing to do. And now, we share education with our clients. Not about specific properties, but about in general some things that they should be looking for. And we really try to not ... we try and stay in our lane. I've said that before. But if it comes down the road of giving advice, we'll get a professional. Someone who's got a good track record in to give that advice, not us.

Annie Kane:  Yeah. And so then in terms of the investment market, at the moment obviously you've seen lots of crackdowns, with the upper speed limits in place and a lot of lenders coming in and halting investment lending as well. How have you found that? Like do you do a lot of investment property for your clients? And how have you found the market down Victoria?

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah, we do. The market in Victoria is great. Not as strong as Sydney of course, but it's certainly pretty strong. And we've got a lot of people sitting on a lot of equity. Which is one part of the puzzle, but now they can't afford to buy another property because of servicing tightening. So, we've a lot of people especially from online. We mentioned HashChing before, an online lead portals who are literally looking for not only a great rate, or a great deal. But they're also looking for a sale lender that's going to help them wit policy and that it can fit.

            So our job really is to try and navigate through that. To be really clear on can you afford this property? What's the implications of going interest only? If they want to go down that path. We barely do any by the way any more, interest only. That's one thing that's changed. We started off doing quite a few of them because that made sense. But at the moment if you're charging three-quarters of a percent more for a interest only loan, it really doesn't make any sense. You should just be paying down your asset rather than paying the bank.

Annie Kane:  So is that fair for an occupier and investor? Or just for investor that you're also saying go into P&I?

Lee Wisniewski: Depends on the situation. 99 times out of 100 you're owner-occupied with P&I unless they've got immediate plans to convert that into an investment. But the reality is, for us, we've ... I'm two years in broking and the things I've learned over my 10 years or so of investing, the good and bad, tells me that it's not forever. And that right now they should be focusing on paying down some debt.

James Mitchell: 100 percent.

Lee Wisniewski: If they can. Because they're going to be getting in a position where ... I've got a lot of people who come to us who we can't help. That have said, "I've just bought a block of land and I need to settle." And we're like, "Well, you can't do it." Just yesterday for instance, this gentleman on I'll consider a low income, sole breadwinner at the house, one child, wife doesn't work, settling on land and a house that they've put deposits down on both for 750K in February. And they wound up having to settle that property. During their conversation in the fact finder, find out he's also put three more deposits down on three more blocks of land.

James Mitchell: Crikey.

Lee Wisniewski: He's in for a bother. And that's not uncommon. That land developers have just been selling property to people that literally cannot find the funding.

Annie Kane:  What do you do in that situation? Like have you sent him to a financial planner, or how do you kind of manage that when you say, "I'm sorry I can't help you." Like what sort of step-

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah.

James Mitchell: That's tough.

Lee Wisniewski: Well, the first step is, yeah, we have to be honest with him. And that's something which we're known for about being honest with people. Because we believe they need to know sooner rather than later. And he unfortunately is going to do his deposit on that and on the other ones to. And if they were to sue him for loss of profits, I'm sure that they won't because they can't really get much from him. But again, we'd send him to a solicitor. The person they should have saw the first time when they signed the contracts. But we just can't assist them. And we can't help everyone unfortunately.

James Mitchell: I think this plays into this sort of, I know we're almost out of time, but this sort of greater emphasis on education. Which is so important going forward. And I was having a chat with Phil Tarrant who's the director of this business, of Momentum Media. And we were talking about technology because Annie and Phil and Alex and quite a few brokers and [inaudible 00:25:48] are heading to San Francisco next week to look at technology and how it's disrupting the market over there. But also enabling.

            And Phil and I were talking about the role of the broker and the key differentiator is providing that education. And that personalised service through the journey which is really something that an online portal of technology can't do. It can give you lots of clicks, but it can't really educate and sit down and say, "Oh, well, when I bought my property, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Lee Wisniewski: Yep.

James Mitchell: So with that in mind, there was an interesting ... some research that came out this week from up north, from Digital Finance Analytics. And he said, "There's been an increase in customers making multiple applications." So they're going to see a broker. They'll go to the bank. They'll do an application there. They might go online and apply online for a few loans. Which came as quite a shock to me. And I was wondering if it's like, if you sit down with a client do ask them, "Do you have any other applications in the pipeline at the moment?" Or is it, I don't know, what do you have to say to that sort of finding?

Lee Wisniewski:        Yeah. We weren't doing that. But only recently, we've never had an issue with credit files for our clients. We're fortunate enough we don't really have clients with poor credit come to us. We just seem to not. But recently we signed up to be able to access credit reports at the time of pre-application. So, we will know in the hour if there's any other applications pending. And we'll have the conversation anyway, but you mentioned it a moment ago about people doing multiple applications.

James Mitchell:         Yeah.

Lee Wisniewski:        And what they're finding is well intentioned brokers, myself included previously are giving them advice, well giving a head's up on what we can't do. We can't do that because of A, B, or C. And what's happening quite often now is getting people come to us, and they come almost with a sheet of answers which are too good to be true. And we're having to check them a little bit closer. Things that just seem to be lender policy specific. And were proven to be true. That what they're doing is taking information from one broker or one lender when they get rejected or you know, we can't really help you because of X. Well, the story changes so that it can. And I think it's just a bit of desperation on people's part because they feel a little bit too restricted by lending at the moment so they're trying their way out of it. And that's not everybody but you kind of got to be more vigilant as a broker at the moment I think.

            And you mentioned technology before, and if it's okay I want ... there's a couple of technology pieces that I use in our business that I probably want to share with some people.

James Mitchell: Yeah, definitely.

Lee Wisniewski: If I can share anything I guess, it's probably that.

            So, you may or may not want to use some of these services, but we actually use a CRM system that we kind of pinched from America. It's called Pipedrive. And we really love Pipedrive. In our business we use Pipedrive as our CRM but also our sales tool. So, something I learnt from the car industry is you have to be very, very urgent with every single lead you get. And that's probably why we get success with online leads. So, Pipedrive. And we also use a thing called Zapier so, Z-A-P-I-E-R. And Zapier does the job of the go between, like its a little robot that grabs something from Pipedrive or from Google Mail or when you do something in one application, it'll go and automatically do things behind the scenes to do something in another application. So, Zapier's pretty good.

            And we also have a chatbot which books our ... well, an artificial intelligent robot that books our meetings for us. So, we would say ... let's say you had a meeting with me next week. And I don't have my diary. You'd say, "Let's catch up for a coffee." And I'd say, "No problems. Hey Amy, can you please organise a coffee between James and I next week sometime?" And what would happen now is, Amy, who is succeeding to that, who's not a real person, will go back and forward with you to organise some time in my diary. So, that's-

James Mitchell: That's cool.

Lee Wisniewski: Amy is a robot-

Annie Kane:  That's scary. That terrifies me.

Lee Wisniewski: Yeah. So the first time I ever hear about that, the first time I'll ever hear about that meeting is when I receive a calendar invite.

James Mitchell: Oh brilliant. So you don't have to do that back and forth for days and days. Oh, I can't do 4:00, can you do 4:15? Oh no, something-

Lee Wisniewski:        Spot on. And she will say, "Hey, Lee's got time at 5:00 or 6:00 next Wednesday does that work?" And you would say, "No, can't do that, what about Thursday?" And she'll say, how about 3:00 or 6:00 on Thursday?" And that backward and forward saves us some time.

            Now, it's not perfect, but it's pretty close. It's pretty good. So that's X.AI. So if someone's looking at X.AI, it's pretty cool. It's a bit of a quirk to and I think you can have a bit of fun with it. And you can use Amy or you can use Andrew. You get a choice.

Annie Kane:  Should say there were other CRM and chatbot providers out there as well.

Lee Wisniewski:        Yes. I'm sure there is. And the last one that is Glympse. So if you're on your way to a client appointment, and similar to an Uber, you want to know where your Uber is. Well, in Glympse in about 15, 20 seconds I could send you a Glympse of my location. It tells you the travelling speed and when I'll arrive. So G-L-Y-M-P-S-E. That's a really cool app for your phone.

James Mitchell: You're getting paid by these tech companies, right?

Annie Kane:  Yeah, I don't know why he’s…

Lee Wisniewski: No, I don't know. I just think if there's something people could have shared with me early, it's how to make it more efficient. Because the only reason we can write volume now, starting to write more now, I guess, is because we're efficient. We legitimately don't do a lot of work during the day now because we're too efficient. So now we have to go and try and find more leads, right?

James Mitchell: Yeah.

Lee Wisniewski: Which is a good problem to have.

James Mitchell: That is a good problem. Well, that's the interesting part of this whole digital disruption piece. Is that you've got disruption but you've also got enablement. And I think that the brokers that can marry up the technology, the smart ... could go out and find all these technologies like you've just been talking about. And people have been saying this for a few years now. If you get those efficiencies it does give you the time to go out and meet more people and get more volume.

Lee Wisniewski: Yep. Definitely.

Annie Kane:  Before we round up early, I just wanted to ask you ... I know that you put aside a proportion of your income for community projects.

Lee Wisniewski: Yep.

Annie Kane: Why do you do that? And what are you supporting at the moment?

Lee Wisniewski: I'm glad you left that to the last because that's what we do in our business. So, first and foremost, remember I said it before about helping people, that's what we do. That's why exist, and we mean that. So, $100 from every single loan that we do goes to either one of two charities and the client gets to choose. Now, the client doesn't know that we do that until they've committed to us. So, until they've said, "Yeah, we want to use you." Then they find out that hey, these guys are also going to do something in your behalf. So, the two charities that we choose to partner with is Women's Property Initiative. So it helps women and children seeking affordable housing in Melbourne. So that's Women's Property Initiative.

            And also One Voice, which is actually helping with youth homelessness in Melbourne in particular, and actually all around the Eastern Seaboard now. They actually run a shower bus service. So it runs a big shower bus. People can actually have shower and restoring dignity, I guess one shower at a time.

            So, those two organisations. The client gets to choose where do you want that hundred to go. We do that because we literally feel like we've got an obligation to help people beyond just our clients and ourselves. Outside of that, we do donate 10% of our profits, whatever's left over I guess into other community initiatives which is more ad hoc. Because the 10% number was something that I was pretty passionate about doing from day one when I first started. And $100 sometimes isn't a 10%, sometimes it is, so we just kind of balance that out with donating back. And it's really just to give back. I've recently won an award recently for Loan Market. It's called the Hope Community Engagement Award. And I was very chuffed to win that because I think that's more important than any other award in Australia with respect to the people who nominate for those awards. But because that means that we're actually making a difference. In our community and I really feel that's probably a more important award to me personally than any other.

            And if that means that giving $100 from every loan to helping people shower on the streets of Melbourne City and Brisbane used as a benchmark in our industry, I kind of feel a bit embarrassed by that. And to be fair, I think not everyone has to give money to charity. Not everyone has to give dollars. But I think everyone has to give something. And whether that be just helping people in a pro bono. Whether that be money, whether that be just service and volunteering. I think everyone has a responsibility to help someone else.

James Mitchell: Yeah. I think that's fantastic. And they're great causes. And which I can see that the customers would be so chuffed and on board with it because they're in the process of putting a roof over their heads. And through that process they're helping someone else get house as well, which is brilliant.

Lee Wisniewski: Back to my point before about how if you help enough people get what they want you get what you want. And I think, call it Karma, call it the universe repaying you, call it God, whatever you want to call it. But the fact is that by doing good you receive good. And I think you'll be rewarded justly. So, that's probably why ... I would say that has a bit to do with why we get referrals. We don't ask for them because of tat, but I think that just they genuinely see a heart is to people. And they want to be on that journey I guess.

James Mitchell: That's awesome.

Annie Kane:  That's really commendable. So congratulations on winning the award as well. Sounds like it's well deserved.

Lee Wisniewski: Thank you. It's actually named after my daughter apparently. No. My daughter ... I've got a new daughter, she's five months old her name's Hope.

James Mitchell: Congratulations!

Annie Kane:  Ah.

Lee Wisniewski: When they said the Hope Community Award, I was like, "Aw, that's-"

Annie Kane:  Good. I won that, I was just thinking, "Oh my God, that's so beautiful."

Lee Wisniewski: And made it even more special.

James Mitchell: Indeed.

Annie Kane:  Well those are all the questions we have for you today, Lee. And thank you so much for taking the time to come in and share your story And we'll look forward to seeing how you go along. Obviously two years in the industry, many more to come hopefully.

Lee Wisniewski: Thank you.

Annie Kane:  So, best of luck and thank you for sharing your top tips with us and with other brokers.

Lee Wisniewski: Thank you for having me. Thanks guys.

Annie Kane: Thank you. For all other news and features please visit www.theadviser.com.au or tune into our other podcast, Mortgage Business Uncut, where we talk about anything that's happening in the mortgage industry that's been taking our fancy or that we think is particularly interesting and we want to know about. Catch you next time.

 

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