Broker of the year shares secrets of success

He plans to empower next generation of brokers

Broker of the year shares secrets of success


By Ryan Johnson

The 2023 Australian Broker of the Year has shared his secrets to his success, discussing specialisation, building a team, and what’s in store for next year.

Jean-Pierre Gortan (pictured above), director of Simplicity Loans & Advisory, has had a big 2023. 

Earlier in the year, Gortan was ranked number one in MPA’s Top Commercial Brokers 2023 list after settling 71 total commercial loans with just under $695 million in total loan settlement value.

Firstly, he won the La Trobe Financial Top Commercial Broker of the Year award beating out his colleague Isabella (Issy) Constantinou among six others.

This put him in contention for the national title – the Westpac Australian Broker of Year award, which recognises the most outstanding broker in Australia.

Deep into the night, Gortan’s name was read out as the recipient of the broker of the year award to rapturous applause, cementing his status as the best broker in the business.

“It was never in doubt,” said most the people Australian Broker asked. As for Gortan himself, he said it was “humbling … if not a little embarrassing.”

“So many people reached out to me after we won the award, and it was a little overwhelming,” Gortan said.

“I've been in the industry for over 20 years, so it's lovely to be recognised for my hard work. But I'm most proud of the fact that this award is a reflection of the entire Simplicity team. It wouldn't have been possible without everyone working together.”

Diversification versus specialisation

Co-founded in August 2017 by Gortan and managing director Matthew Johnson, Simplicity Loans & Advisory’s beginnings wasn’t just in the commercial space.

From residential mortgages to asset and equipment finance, Simplicity “wanted to be everything to everyone”, according to Gortan.

However, he soon found the team was bogged down with compliance, spending 50% of their time on 20% of their flow.

Instead, Gortan chose to focus on commercial loans because he saw a disconnect between the quality of servicing commercial loans and the ability of residential brokers to handle them.

“We would often see customers who had been put into horrible facilities by their brokers. We’d go ‘who told you to do this?’ And they just said, ‘well, this is what the broker put me in’,” Gortan said.

“We realised that we could share revenue with resi brokers to help them earn money from commercial loans without having to spend a lot of time and effort on them. This would allow them to focus on what they're good at – home loans.”

Six years later, Gortan said the business had peeled itself back to being just commercial.

“If a leasing deal or a home loan comes to us, we'll flick it out to a partner. We just want to be laser focused on commercial and be the best that we can.”

Gortan said this approach had set Simplicity apart from its more holistic and diversified competitors.

“If you’re dabbling in commercial, you wouldn’t be doing it very well,” Gortan said. “We learn about new lenders and who does what every single day and unless you’re doing it day in day out, you can't be doing the right thing by your customer.”

The importance of outside hires

Another skill that is immediately apparent with Gortan is how he prioritises building his team.

Rather than hiring the most renowned and seasoned industry professionals, Simplicity has focused on identifying talent through other avenues. 

“Our best staff has been mostly out of industry hires. Issy (Constantinou) was a corporate receptionist fresh out of uni while Josh (commercial associate Joshua Diab) hadn’t even finished his degree yet, so we put him in an admin role,” Gortan said.

“It tends to be the people rising up that we train with our bad habits rather than bringing their own.”

Now Constantinou is associate director and was named MPA’s Top Commercial Broker in 2022.

Diab, who has worked his way up from support officer to commercial associate, is Gortan’s right-hand man.

“At this point, Joshua does probably 80% of the work. He's become really good at what he does, and we've found that working together allows me to manage more deals with the same amount of effort,” Gortan said.

“As for Issy, well, we’re making some changes to elevate her into a more senior role.”

Simplicity has also ensured that the executive team’s skills complement each other.

“The biggest lesson I've learned is that I need to have people around me who are organised because I'm not,” Gortan said.

“Matt, my business partner, is very organised and he takes care of all the details. I'm a big picture person, so I need people around me who can make up my weaknesses.”

Above it all, Simplicity’s strategy to prioritise speed and communication with clients and to find creative ways to solve problems has pushed the business to new heights. 

“Last year was the first full year where we saw the benefits of all our hard work come together with all the pieces falling into place,” Gortan said.

“We refined our marketplace model, launched with Choice, established a BDM network, and launched new tech that made us more efficient. We also became really good at handling large deals in the private non-bank space.”

What’s next for the 2023 Broker of the Year?

While Simplicity Loans & Advisory aims to close the year with record settlements, Gortan hopes to step back into an advisory role to develop the next generation of brokers.

“I'm probably coming to the end of my award career, and I want to elevate some of our young brokers to win the next awards,” Gortan said.

“I'd like to see people like Issy and Josh or Dave or Daniel or someone like that winning some of these awards and be recognised for the hard work they do.”

Gortan’s goal for the coming years is to increase Simplicity’s settlements and decrease his own so he can take a more strategic operational view of the business.

“It's not a sustainable, scalable business model if one person writes half the business in the office,” Gortan said. “We want a nice even spread among all of our staff and I can say quite comfortably we’ve got the right staff to achieve that.”

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