Backing brokers builds success

by Antony Field01 Jul 2021

Four new Mortgage Choice franchise owners describe their transitions to becoming brokers and explain how the support of the market-leading network has set them up for success.

It can be a daunting experience for any young mortgage broker to enter the competitive world of lending, but even more so when they are in charge of their own brokerage.

That’s why it’s so important to have the backing of a leading broker franchise network such as Mortgage Choice to ensure brokers have the best chance of success.

Australian Broker caught up with four new Mortgage Choice franchise owners to find out about their journeys to becoming successful brokers. All have had the benefit of great mentors, and three of them have taken over franchises from their parents.

Chantelle Rangel, franchise owner, Mortgage Choice MarrickvilleChantelle Rangel
Mortgage Choice Marrickville

Prior to joining her father Bob’s Mortgage Choice franchise in Chatswood about 10 years ago, Chantelle Rangel worked in sales in Australia and Canada.

“When my eldest daughter was born, my husband was offered a job in Singapore, so I took a career break and was on maternity leave,” Rangel says. “I was supporting my dad’s franchise from a marketing, loan processing, admin and customer service standpoint and basically learning the business with the intention of eventually taking over.”

Rangel, 39, completed her broking diploma and Cert IV in Singapore and spent five years learning the business and working with existing clients. She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Economics.

She learnt a lot from her father’s core values and the way he ran the business, which enticed her to take over the franchise last year and move it to Marrickville, closer to her home.

“He’s recognised as a confidante to his clients; he works hard, yet he’s always made family a priority too,” says Rangel. “He’s often referred to as ‘the kindest man’ people have met. My father has always set an impeccable moral standard for me; he treats his clients the way he would want to be treated – always with their best interest in mind. His mantra has always been: if you want run a successful business, you need to understand what success means for your client and help them achieve that.”

Working at Mortgage Choice for five years before taking over the franchise allowed Rangel to learn all facets of the business.“

Understanding your strengths, limitations and ROI in each area helps prioritise and plan where you should invest your time and recognise when you need to outsource.”

Rangel says Mortgage Choice supports new franchise owners through its franchise business managers (FBMs), communications, and product and compliance teams.

“Our FBMs assist with developing business plans and strategies to grow our business, sharing similar experiences and initiatives that have worked with other franchise owners.”

The lending services team keeps brokers informed of industry changes, and the product team ensures brokers can offer clients the best products and services, while the compliance team ensures that ever-changing legal and compliance requirements are being met.

Rangel says the most invaluable support Mortgage Choice provides is “our broker family”.

“You can sometimes feel isolated being a single business operator. However, there’s such a sense of community with other MC brokers; it’s in their nature to help fellow colleagues succeed and grow. We have internal support forums on shared lending experiences, social media forums offering mental health tips and lending advice.”

Mortgage Choice also runs Aspire, a quarterly event for female brokers that features a panel of female franchise owners talking about their challenges and successes.

“It’s not just about work; it’s about managing your personal life as well, which I think is really key with women ... I think Mortgage Choice really tries to focus on that.”

It also helps having a female CEO (Susan Mitchell) and senior female executives who make sure women are supported and connected, says Rangel.

Mortgage Choice invests heavily in technology to streamline processes, manage its clients’ financial life cycles, and run franchises efficiently.

“Our systems are well integrated and built in-house; they are user-friendly and constantly changing and adapting to our broker feedback.

I’ve not experienced this in my 22 years of working with other companies, and it’s game changing.”

Rangel says the advantages of Mortgage Choice include its strong brand, intuitive technology systems, familial broker community, and head office support.“

It’s the fluidity that I love. Professionally, I’m able to run a profitable business closely tied to my core values while also achieving my personal goals.”

Ben Courage, franchise owner, Mortgage Choice Tweed HeadsBen Courage
Mortgage Choice Tweed Heads

Now 24 years old, Ben Courage started helping his mother, Dawn, at her Mortgage Choice franchise when he was in Year 11 at high school, and by just 18 he had become a broker. “

She bought [the franchise] when our family came here in 2006 from the UK,” he says. “She was working for Barclays and a few other major banks. Her idea was that we would have a more relaxed lifestyle here, and the way she saw that happening was by having her own business.”

Courage says in the early days he would attend client appointments with his mother.“

In 2013, I was thinking, what do I want to do with my career? An opportunity popped up for me to do the Cert III in finance through school – and the school allowed me to work in the business one day a week with Mum.”

Courage decided to become a mortgage broker in 2015, and in September that year he completed a Certificate IV and Diploma in Finance and Mortgage Broking. He then completed his Mortgage Choice induction in October, and by the end of the month was a fully qualified mortgage broker.

He still had lot to learn, which involved a further two years of training in each area of broking – the initial lead, interviews, submitting loans and processing applications, learning about lenders and post-settlement – all under the close guidance of mum Dawn.“

Mum is a very determined person. She has incredible perseverance, extra level of compliance.“

They will check that what you are putting up [to a lender] is correct. That’s great at the start. You get feedback then and there.”

Mortgage Choice’s lending support centre also assists with more complex deals.

“You can run any scenario by them; they have a wealth of knowledge,” Courage says.

He adds that the best PD sessions it offers new brokers are the Q&A panel discussions involving existing franchisees. “See what the best in the business are doing – what’s working for them and what hasn’t. The beauty of the network is you can ask anyone anything.”

Being near the Queensland border, Courage is part of a group of Gold Coast franchisees that market collaboratively, sharing the costs.

“We have fantastic market share because of that ... we have great FBM support. Debbie Chambers is our state manager; I know I can call her any time. ”

Mortgage Choice’s technology is market-leading, says Courage. “ Certainly on their Broker Platform and File Manager, and that’s the day-to-day running of the business.”

Courage urges new brokers to give themselves plenty of lead-in time and to acquire the necessary skills before taking on a franchise.

Katie Dowton, franchise owner partner, Mortgage Choice ErinaKatie Dowton
Mortgage Choice Erina

Award-winning broker Katie Dowton, who is both an MPA and MFAA Young Gun, joined Mortgage Choice as a broker assistant in 2017 at the age of just 19, then became a fully fledged broker in 2018 and a franchise owner partner in July 2019.

Dowton’s franchise partners are Anthony Knight, who has owned the business for more than 20 years, and Luke Whitbread.

Dowton, now 23, joined ANZ straight out of school, but says she decided it wasn’t for her.

“I started having conversations with other brokers who were coming into the branch,” says Dowton. “An opportunity came up at Mortgage Choice in Erina, a lot closer to home.”

Dowton says she had to learn how to deal with clients from all walks of life, from tradies to doctors.

“The biggest thing for me was being a young female and working out how to be taken seriously and build trust with my clients regardless of my inexperience in the beginning.”

Mortgage Choice’s Aspire program for women is great, says Dowton.

“Some of the most successful franchises in the country are female-owned, and hearing their stories, being able to talk with them and getting their advice is very beneficial.”

Dowton says starting from the bottom and gradually learning all the steps in the broking process has made the transition so much easier.

“Anthony Knight was my mentor, and without him I don’t think I would have been able to learn everything that I have in such a short amount of time.”

The best piece of advice Knight shared was “always have in your mind that you’re going to write the business” when meeting a client.

“There’s a lot of support within the network and through the conferences, and you do develop those friendly relationships with people,” Dowton says. “It’s really helpful to be able to bounce ideas off different people.

“Brand recognition is a massive benefit of Mortgage Choice. They are constantly researching the market and finding out what people want and how we can deliver on that.”

Dowton says when she has a tricky deal Mortgage Choice has a team that can assist with loan structuring.

“Mortgage Choice also provides a massive amount of support in relation to marketing; there’s so many resources online for us to access. They will create the content and sometimes even schedule it.”

Broker Platform and File Manager have streamlined processes and improved efficiency, Dowton says, and Mortgage Choice’s lending centre toolkit is also very helpful.

“That’s probably the best tool we have access to because everything’s summarised in that one place – it tells you lender service levels, who will go second mortgage, how much overtime you can use, or if they’ll take bonus or commission payments.

“The support you receive from Mortgage Choice and the wealth of knowledge we have access to throughout the whole network is invaluable. It certainly makes success a lot easier to achieve.”

Ryan Pappas, franchise owner, Mortgage Choice SydneyRyan Pappas
Mortgage Choice Sydney

Ryan Pappas finished school in 2013 after Year 12 and started in mortgage broking in 2014 at the Mortgage Choice franchise owned by his father, Paul, on Pitt Street.“

I first started doing administration, paperwork, following up lenders, etc., then over the years worked my way up to relationship manager and then mortgage broker,” says Pappas.

“Starting in administration assisted me to understand the ropes and how lenders work, which has benefited me substantially as a mortgage broker.”

The 25-year-old became a qualified broker in 2015 but says it wasn’t until 2016 that he was dealing with clients.

“It’s important to understand policies, scenarios, everything before you start giving advice. My biggest concern at the start was that I was 18, 19 years of age giving advice to people on million-dollar loans, so that’s why I wanted to understand the ropes before I deep-dived into it.”

Pappas took over his dad’s franchise in January 2020 but says COVID-19 had little effect due to the business having all the technology in place already.

“Productivity skyrocketed with digitisation – not having to go out to see every lead. At the end of 2019 we were settling $50m [in loans]; last year we settled $70m, and this year I am trying to hit $80m to $100m.”

Pappas says part of the reason the business is in such good shape is due to his father, who has been in banking and broking for more than 25 years.

“If I was starting 2020 as a greenfield, with no loan book, no clientele, it would have been very difficult,” he says.

“My father taught me one main rule: keep it simple. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and always act in their best interest. Focus on the customer and set expectations and the rest will come.

Pappas says he was fortunate that he had the support of his father and understood broking when he took over the franchise, and Mortgage Choice has a substantial learning and development team that can train new brokers.

“You want a network like Mortgage Choice because of the support it provides on how to structure a deal, enter into a system, talk to banks, look at a scenario.

“The support network that Mortgage Choice has is the best in the industry by far. I can confidentially ring up any broker in the network, and they will assist me with a scenario or even use their office to meet a client.”

Pappa says he selected Mortgage Choice because people buy brands.

“People won’t buy Ryan Pappas home loans, but they’ll buy Mortgage Choice home loans. The other reason is all the stuff that comes with it – marketing, IT, loan payments, I don’t have to worry about that. This means I can focus on servicing the customers.”

He says Mortgage Choice’s Broker Platform is also market-leading and simple.

“The lending centre is easy to navigate as well. Simplicity is a huge factor in the overall system, which is amazing.”