Jenel McClelland has been a mortgage broker for almost 30 years. The founder of Lake Macquarie family business Green Apples Finance Australia began her career in finance at Rural Bank in 1979. Here, she answers questions about women in the industry, scaling up, diversification and the end of JobKeeper.
Q: Financial support measures such as JobKeeper and rent relief will end soon. How can a broker support clients who are in financial difficulty?
A: Keep close to your clients in the next few months. Email to advise them you are there to help them, whatever happens financially. You are part of their team to guide them through it. If you have built good relationships with your clients, they will already know this. Keep in mind clients in industries that will be most affected when JobKeeper benefits end, for example hospitality, sales and small businesses. You can consolidate their loans, lower repayments or talk to the bank for them and discuss hardship and deferment of instalments. Often they are feeling bad enough already, so ringing the bank to ask for help is hard. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to.
Q: How do women entering the broking industry find support and mentors?
A: I always smile when I see more women joining our industry. When I started 30 years ago, there were very few females. Women are very compassionate and understanding, and sometimes clients prefer to deal with a woman. There are some wonderful support groups for women. I believe it is an obligation of all aggregators to form a group for women and men, with mentoring as well. My aggregator, Loankit/Finsure, has a wonderful group called Women in Finsure, and it is also open to men. This was the brainchild of my wonderful and forward-thinking Loankit BDM, Noushig Megerditchian.
Q: I am a sole broker. How do I know when to expand my business and take on more staff?
A: Great question. It’s hard to know. Just remember, don’t put the cart before the horse. When you feel your business is obtaining effortless referrals and you are becoming overwhelmed, you need to look at taking on more staff.The key is to hire the right staff.If you are a people person, hire admin staff to take the processing, etc., off you.
Q: As a residential broker, what steps do I need to take to diversify into other areas?
A: You can diversify internally and externally. Externally, I have joined amazing network groups (BNI is very good), and in these groups there are good people in your ‘circle of influence’. These will include conveyancers, real estate agents, accountants, etc. Keep looking until you find the right people, and then refer your clients to them for their services. Internally, we offer all types of finance, but residential mortgages are our mainstay. Keep learning and work with what you know best, but add more areas of finance as you grow. I often see brokers trying to offer everything in half measures. My mantra is “Do it once, do it right”.