In the hot seat: Leigh Paliwal

by Antony Field06 Sep 2021

Leigh Paliwal started her own Sydney brokerage, Hills Finance, in July. She previously worked for Commonwealth Bank, RAMs and property buyers agency InvestorKit, co-founded by her husband, Arjun. The couple also run The Property Nerds podcast.

Q: You recently set up your own brokerage. How did your career lead you to this point?
A:
Having had experience in various roles in banking from 2013 to 2017, I worked my way up to the premier banking divisions of CBA, where I was servicing high net worth individuals as their relationship manager, helping them grow their wealth. Early in 2018, I moved into mortgage broking with RAMS, which allowed me to fully focus on lending. In the last year I have stepped out of industry and into real estate, joining InvestorKit, an award-winning buyer’s agency. I’ve learnt all about the operations side of business, assisted in creating and systemising key roles, then hiring and training team members as that business scaled. That brings me to the present and the start of Hills Finance. I wanted to bring my seven years of experience in finance and lending together with the business acumen I’ve learnt.

Q: What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
A:
I love finding efficiencies to make what we do day-to-day easier and a better experience for the client, then being able to apply what that is immediately. I’ve also brought two very passionate people into the business, Ronald and Christine. Helping them grow within their roles and in the industry, I find that very exciting and rewarding.

Q: Who is your mentor, and what’s the best advice they have given you?
A:
Arjun Paliwal, director and head of research at InvestorKit, is my mentor, and he is actually my husband. The best advice he has given me is that business is a game of service, authenticity and operations – and that the sales will come. 

Q: How have you adapted to working during lockdown?
A:
A It’s been business as usual, minus the face-to-face interaction I’m sure lots of us miss. There have been lots of Zoom calls and a focus on automating and streamlining as much of the client journey and application process as possible for our clients through the use of technology. Whether there is a lockdown or not, the use of technology and automation is crucial.

Q: What are your career goals for the future?
A:
There are a few awards I would like to aim for in the short to mid term and tick off, perhaps Young Gun of the Year or a Woman in Financeaward. In the long term to be able to build a $1bn book size would be a massive feat and would require further building up of a passionate team to support the company’s vision in doing so. I believe supporting a community is very important. We do this daily through finance, but I would like to extend that further through having the Hills Finance team involved in regular volunteering and other communal activities in the Hills District of Sydney and surrounds.