Tina Clark has been in the asset finance space for 20 years and is a broker and part-owner of Laurentide Financial Services. She travelled the world as a professional nanny and worked in a variety of roles before discovering her passion for asset finance. Here she answers questions about the sector.
Q: How different is equipment finance broking to other sectors such as residential?
A: The equipment finance space is faster and turnover greater than in the residential space. Our team has decided not to specialise, so we are dealing with all different types of small businesses, which is a challenge in its own right. Every business has a story and its issues; during any one month, we may be financing all types of equipment, from farm equipment to excavators, computers, packing machines, refrigeration equipment and more.
Q: What skills or knowledge do you need to specialise in this area?
A: You need a thorough understanding of how business works and where the numbers come from. You also need to get to know all about your clients so you are better equipped to place their finance requests successfully. If you are not familiar with the equipment a particular client is buying, Google is the best tool you can use to learn about it and get across your client’s individual needs. The Certificate IV and the Diploma of Financial Services developed by CAFBA is a great course for getting started in asset finance.
Q: What should the industry be doing to encourage more women to become brokers?
A: This is the toughest question of all. I don’t know why more women are not doing equipment finance. Is it because equipment finance is looked at as being more of a ‘sales role’ and, anecdotally, so many women seem to dislike the sales arena? However, I do not see myself as working in sales; I see myself as a problem-solver. Whether it is a $5,000 or a $500,000 deal, I do the same amount of work, so I ensure that every client is as special to me as the next – everybody gets my undivided attention. I am actively involved in encouraging more women into the broking industry by facilitating the CAFBA Women’s Forums.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you ever received in your career?
A: “Do the deal.” We are constantly bombarded by reasons why various finance companies will not approve a finance transaction, and you can easily get bogged down in the details. It is a broker’s responsibility to be able to find a home for most deals they are asked about, and I believe we need to move away from ‘matrix lending’ and get back to the real job of looking at a client’s merits and not just the item they wish to obtain finance for. We have many small businesses in Australia, and their requirements for finance can vary. Most clientele I assist do not necessarily tick the lenders’ boxes, so it is up to me to tell their stories to secure and finalise each and every deal.