Mortgage House franchisee Tom Mak believes that steps should be taken to initiate a campaign that explains the role of a mortgage broker to prospective Asian borrowers.
Mak is of the opinion that there is a forgotten section of the community who don’t use brokers simply because they don’t understand the concept.
Hong Kong-born Mak’s Mortgage House franchise is based in Chatswood, NSW, which has a high Asian population and the majority of customers who walk in off the street express surprise when they learn that they don’t have to pay him for his services.
“It often takes me a while just to explain what I do and why I won’t be charging them a fee,” he says.
“When I started with Mortgage House most of my customers came through head office and were Australians who were familiar with mortgage brokers. “Now I generate a lot of leads myself and most of these are Asians, many of whom are confused about what I do.”
Mak, a former civil engineer and property developer in Singapore says it was a twist of fate that brought him to Australia in 1989. (A friend persuaded him to drive him to the Australian Embassy, talked him into filling out an Australian Visa application and ironically missed out while Mak was granted one.)
Mak told Australian Broker that it isn’t only customers who don’t understand the role of a mortgage broker. Expressing his frustration at the inability to find good staff he says, “a lot of people who apply for a job are under the impression that a mortgage broker simply fills in application forms”. While admitting that his standards are high he maintains, “I’m not asking a lot”.
“I want someone who understands financial credit, what the banks are up to, how to fulfil the banking policy, how to interview clients and how to address their needs. If they don’t know any of this we have to start from scratch and despite my best efforts I usually still find they make a lot of mistakes.
"Someone told me that he’d been to a place for a couple of days, paid $700 and got a Diploma. How much would he know? I got my Diploma in Mortgage Lending in 2003. I did six subjects and it took me four years. They did closed book exams back then and if you failed you had to re-do the subject.”
Mak says he has tried training staff, some of whom he lost when they went off on their own and a couple of real estate agents who grappled with the financial aspects of the job.
For over three years he has been a one-man band with his wife occasionally helping out on reception. But he is still keen to find the right person/people to join him and optimistic that his business will return to the four-man team it once was.
He says the success of his franchise can be summed up in to two points: The excellent reputation of Mortgage House of Australia, which he says is a result of its discerning policies regarding the selection of franchises and his own people skills – an acquired knack of helping customers prioritise and isolate their main aims and a genuine desire to source solutions.