Finance broker Chris Hall is the founder and managing director of Sydney brokerage Blue Crane Capital. The 2019 MPA Young Gun and 2018 MFAA NSW/ACT Newcomer of the Year talks about his move from banking to broking.
Q: Tell us about your previous roles in the finance industry, particularly in banking, and how they helped your transition to broking?
A: I went straight into commercial banking at National Australia Bank and was there for close to five years. NAB was a great training ground to understand credit and learn from seasoned bankers. It was a successful business banker centre, and quite a few of my ex-NAB colleagues are now out broking themselves – and doing very well! I then took on a business development management role at Bankwest Commercial for a number of years, which saw me jump into the broker channel, looking after brokers and their clients’ transactions, ranging from development finance to self-employed home loans. The volume of different scenarios and transactions which came across my desk on a daily basis helped me create a ‘smell test’, which has definitely helped me since starting my own brokerage, Blue Crane Capital.
Q: What made you want to become a broker?
A: There were a couple of things that triggered the move into broking. Firstly, I wanted to have true long-standing relationships and solutions for my clients. I felt hamstrung by the fact that I could only offer one lending solution, and if our credit team weren’t interested then I would lose the transaction and client. Secondly, I wanted to run my own business, not report up the chain, and create something that truly aligned to my values – and then have the ability to look back in 15 to 20 years’ time with my team and be proud of what we built.
Q: What’s it like running your own brokerage business, and what are some of the challenges?
A: I read something the other day: Elon Musk said, ‘Running a business is like chewing glass, staring into the abyss’. It’s probably not that bad. There have definitely been some challenges, but it’s the ones that you can’t control, like the royal commission into banking, or the COVID-19 pandemic, which really test you as a business owner. The industry is resilient, and the work we do is character-revealing. I wouldn’t change a thing – but we are just getting started.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role?
A: Everything. I love what I do – the fast-paced nature, the human–client element, the problem-solving aspect of transactions, as well as helping clients achieve their financial goals. Probably my favourite is collaborating with my team and the hard work we all put in to then see the results and success. I’m lucky with the people I have around me.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully still doing what we’re doing, with staff feeling engaged and our business growing, along with continuing to deliver for our clients.