Becoming a mortgage broker today: Could you do it all again?

Aaron Russell-Smith is a fresh face in the industry. He and his mentor, Daniel Paci, tell us what it's really like becoming a broker in today's hard-pressed environment



It’s not easy becoming a mortgage broker in today’s unpredictable and highly-regulated home loan environment, says industry newcomer Aaron Russell-Smith, but the challenges post-GFC environment has its benefits, too.

The 35 year-old Queenslander is in the midst of setting up his own broking business, after a positive experience with a mortgage broker – and a major life-changing injury - led him to pursue the career path.

“I started when I purchased my house in 2007. The broker I had was so helpful; I asked him questions about how to get into the industry and he said I needed to get a Certificate IV and join up with an aggregator.”

It took him another five years, following intensive physical therapy after a massive fall at his painting job left him paralyzed from the waist down, but Russell-Smith is now entering the industry with gusto.

The going hasn’t exactly been easy, he says, with the toughest adjustment being learning to live off a commission-based career, rather than wage-earning, income, as well as sorting through the piles of paperwork.

#pb# “To work in the industry there is a lot of information to sort through, from starting your Certificate through to your industry accreditations. I’m lucky to have a great aggregator…Though it takes at least three to four months to start writing loans, it all depends on how quickly you get through the mortgage course.”

Once that’s done, he says, the next major challenge is finding clients.

Russell-Smith’s mentor, Vault Mortgage and Become a Mortgage Broker director, says ten out of 35 want-to-be brokers have dropped out of his mentoring program in the past few years – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he explains.

“Since ASIC have come in it’s a lot tighter with rules and regulations, which is a good thing. We got rid of a lot of the cowboys in the industry. Policies have changed dramatically, banks’ commission structures have changed, which is bad for brokers. But the positive things are now that there’s a lot more rules and regulations that they need to abide by, [newcomers] have the right support behind them.”

The toughest aspect of training new brokers, Paci says, is simply bringing everything together.

“When you get people who’ve never been in the industry, filling out a form is where they need the most help. Sourcing clients is also one thing they do struggle with and we teach them what can work and what doesn’t work in the industry.”

It’s a difficult road, he says and new entrants need to work hard.

“Obviously they’ve got to be up it – it’s not an industry you can just jump into and expect to make a lot of money, they need to put a lot of hard work into it. What we find is a lot of people give up when it gets too hard.”

Russell-Smith, however, is determined to keep well away from that statistic.

“In the next 12 months I want to have a loan book of 20-25 million. I also want to make the top 100 young broker of the year. I like to challenge myself with sourcing my own contacts by setting up a stall in a local shopping centre, using Facebook and I also support my local soccer club, which is great a I have full access to the members there. I have started getting my business name, Statewide Mortgage Solutions, out – I let everyone know what I do.”

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