A good mentor can help a broker tackle unexpected challenges, identify opportunities, think outside the box and take their business to the next level. Tas Bindi speaks with business strategist, speaker and respected mentor Jason Back about why brokers should always be open to learning and never be afraid to ask for help.
Adelaide Bank is proud to sponsor The Adviser’s Meet the Mentor series. As a lender solely dedicated to third-party distribution, our passion is supporting brokers while ensuring our industry continues to thrive well into the future. A willingness to adapt underpins ongoing success. This is something we’ve grown to understand since pioneering the distribution of lending products via intermediaries in the ’90s. We trust you’ll find the knowledge shared by our mentors valuable and we look forward to partnering with you as our industry continues to evolve.
Everyone could benefit from having a source of wisdom, inspiration and support in times of uncertainty, according to Jason Back, founder and director at Broker Essentials.
After all, as he says, “we are not infallible, we do not know everything and, sometimes, we need help.”
He adds that, for brokers, a supportive mentor can help unlock potential, overcome challenges, transform mindsets, identify opportunities and – ultimately – help adapt to change.
“On the back of my business card, I’ve actually got a quote from Marshall Goldsmith that says: ‘An individual who actively resists help has maxed out both personally and professionally’. I love that quote. If you want to grow, you’ve got to seek help,” the Broker Essentials director says.
Mr Back has held a number of leadership roles throughout his 20-plus years in the finance industry, including at a major bank for more than 14 years.
He was also at the helm of Melbourne-based finance brokerage The Australian Lending and Investment Centre where he was managing director for nearly six years before stepping down in late 2018 to focus full-time on his mentoring and consulting business.
He adds that, despite the knowledge and skill sets he has acquired over the last two decades, change is a constant and no one should rest on their laurels.
“I’ve been around for 20-odd years, and I’m good at what I do, but every day, things are changing. Theories change. The way we go about doing business changes. You’ve got to be open to learning,” Mr Back says.
However, brokers also need to be cautious about whom they seek support from, he warns.
“Our industry needs to have more regulation around mentors or introduce more qualifications for mentors. It doesn’t sit comfortably with me that we have the right people with the right motives doing the right thing,” Mr Back says.
“I make it very clear that my business, Broker Essentials, is a commercial venture. I’m not doing it as a bolt-on to my broking business to increase my revenue streams. This is my business.”
Since launching Broker Essentials less than two years ago, Mr Back says he has assisted more than 100 brokers through masterclasses, one-on-one mentorship and training programs, and onsite consultations – where he spends one or two weeks inside a brokerage to perform business diagnostics and capability assessments, report on the findings and discuss solutions.
He describes his mentoring style as a combination of “structured” and “flexible”, which he says is important because his clients “don’t sit in the same bucket”. Some broking business owners need “a manager who holds them accountable”, while others might need more of a coach, a trainer, a facilitator or just someone to consult on a need-basis, he says.
Mr Back makes three observations about brokers. Firstly, he says they claim to be “time-poor” when the problem is that they’re not operating as efficiently as they could be because “they’re not following a process, they’re not clear on their goals and objectives, and they’re not monitoring their business like a business”.
He elaborates: “Broking per se – and I call it the ‘golden hour’ – is such a small part of what they do. If you had to break down the time that a $25-million [loan] writer spends face-to-face with their clients, it’s probably about 10 per cent of their time. The rest of the time, they’re a business owner.”
“And running a business is difficult, especially from the background that a lot of brokers come from, which isn’t from running their own business. They’re coming from a banking institution environment where everything is run for you.”
The second observation is that brokers may have a lack of clarity around their value proposition to clients, which is also a common inhibitor to growth, according to the Broker Essentials director.
“What problem am I solving for my clients? What do my clients say about me? What’s the real value of the service that I’m offering? It might be three or four lines, it might be 20 or 30 words, but that’s how you describe your business,” Mr Back says.
Brokers are additionally “too distracted” these days, he says, with the average adult checking their phone over 200 times a day. As a result, they often struggle to get “deep work done”, such as writing good content.
“That’s not necessarily because they don’t know it. They don’t get that thinking time when they sit down and go: ‘What should I be telling my clients at the moment?’ It could be: ‘Hey, did you know that Labor’s negative gearing policy is this and its [capital gains tax] policy is this? This may affect you if we change government. You should be seeing me now’,” Mr Back says.
As best practice, he advises brokers to ask ‘What if?’ regularly. This could be questions such as: ‘What if trail is banned? What if upfront commissions change? What if the property market goes down?’
“I’m not saying that brokers need to spend that time always in a negative mindset. [They] just need to question the position [they’re] in and consider what [they] will do if something in the market changes – and change is a constant,” he adds.
Mr Back says that in the face of change, it’s particularly important for brokers to be open to learning, unafraid to seek help, and kind to themselves, as they’re operating in a tough industry.
Tas Bindi is the features editor for The Adviser magazine. She writes about the mortgage industry, macroeconomics, fintech, financial regulation, and market trends.
Prior to joining Momentum Media, Tas wrote for business and technology titles such as ZDNet, TechRepublic, Startup Daily, and Dynamic Business.
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