Feel the fear and GO FOR IT

by BN25 Mar 2014
Mortgage industry stalwart Kathy Cummings on her new adventures and her continuing passion for the mortgage broking industry

"Feel the fear and go for it!” That’s what was going through my head when I rang in 2014 – unofficially known as Kathy’s Gap Year – as a free agent. A woman in flats and shorts, stilettos stowed, and hair all salty from the surf.

Don’t be too fooled. I still have a copy of the AFR on my iPad. And because I don’t want to miss you all too much, I’m staying in touch. If I’m not across the lunch table from you, you can find me right here. Every month, I’ll be popping in to say “Hi” and give you a rundown of what I’ve been up to, who I’ve caught up with in the broking world, and what’s on their minds.

In my 30 years in finance, I’ve kicked plenty of business and career goals. This is my time to kick some personal ones – the ones that kept slipping through to my “wish list” each year.

I don’t know what’s on your wish list, but mine includes some biggies. As sales guru Jack Daly says, “make sure you share your goals and have someone keep you honest”. Well, I’ll be sharing mine here and I trust you’ll help keep me focused!

My Gap Year began with a splash at my place, where I held a pool party mid-January for my former leadership team, friends and family. It was a chance to say thank you to them and, importantly, to their better halves, for sharing them over so many years. They are all outstanding people who I am already missing.

I’ve just returned from three weeks on the beautiful NSW North Coast with my daughter, Larissa, and my two gorgeous grandsons, Nicholas, 3, and Oscar, 10 months, which was to be the start of my rejuvenation – code for get fit and drop 10kg! I seriously underestimated the toddler factor, specifically the urgent need for a daiquiri come 5PM each day, so that goal is very much a work in progress.

While up north, I caught up with James Hasselle from Mortgage Choice in Burleigh Heads and Miami, and Anthony Muir from Mortgage Choice Bundall. Exciting news for Anthony, who has just moved to his new office in Bundall. The big productivity focus for both his office and James’ is ensuring clients come fully prepared for the interview. That’s it, eliminate waste and watch that bottom line lift! By eliminating rework, the most common cause of waste, you:
  • create additional time for you and your team to reinvest in further income producing activities such as database marketing
  • create a better customer experience for your client and possibly your referral source
A simple practice to embed in your process is to have your admin assistant call each client 24 hours before their interview to ensure they have all the documents you need to submit their application, guaranteeing a straight through approval.

Is this part of your current process?

Both James’ and Anthony’s franchises are firing as the Gold Coast property market leaps forward with low interest rates and increased investor activity.

Katrina and John Rowlands, who were in the area for a short break at their lovely Alstonville property, came over for champagne on my balcony before dinner at Fins. Katrina and John have spread their business wings, opening a new Aussie Home Loans franchise at Dapto to complement Katrina’s highly successful Wollongong-based firm, Mortgage Success, part of the AFG family. I have known and respected Katrina for many years and she has always had a passion for sharing her knowledge and skills, so it came as no surprise that her main focus for the Dapto store will be to coach and mentor the staff to build a successful retail presence that is not reliant on her personally interviewing the clients. When I asked Katrina what keeps her awake at night, she said “succession planning.” I don’t think she is alone on that one! It appears to be a hot topic for the mortgage broking industry.

Identifying what stage your business is at and your strategies to exit should be part of any business that is mature. Finding the right person or organisation to carry on your legacy is not always easy. Many broker businesses have been built on the principal’s personality and knowledge over many years, so a successful succession plan may involve transitioning the business over several years. What stage is your business at and do you have an exit horizon?

Back on the balcony, we hosted AMB national manager Nathan Kerr with the gorgeous Josie and their cute bub Zac for a lunch of chilli crab linguine. Nathan was very positive about the market, with his brokers focused on looking after the “whole of clients’ financial needs, not just the mortgage”. You’re speaking to the converted on that one Nathan!

One of the “win/win” benefits to come from the regulation of the mortgage broking industry has been the emphasis it places on ensuring a broker takes into consideration a customer’s total financial needs, not just their housing loan. Understanding if there is likely to be a change in their circumstances in coming years, for example, when are they looking to update their cars? (Opportunity for Leasing) And how are they protecting their assets (Insurance referral?), especially their income stream?

Do you have a process or the skills within your business to look after every opportunity? If not, your client will satisfy that need elsewhere and your home loan/relationship could be at risk.

Does succession planning keep you awake at night? What are some of your goals for this year and who have you shared them with?

Let’s keep the conversation going. You know I’ve never been the silent type!

Kathy

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To join the conversation, email Kathy at kathy.cummings@keymedia.com.au