Women in Broking: Marissa Schulze, Rise High Financial Solutions in South Australia

Following in our Women in Broking series, we interview Marissa Schulze, Director and Mortgage & Finance Adviser of Rise High Financial Solutions, in Adelaide, SA.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a mortgage advisor?

Before becoming a mum I was working in Commercial Banking. I loved my job but once I became a mum I needed more flexibility than what the bank could offer me.

I started my career as a mortgage broker because I wanted a flexible career that would be stimulating and rewarding, and allow me to balance my family and work life.

I was an active and experienced property investor and loved everything about property. I wanted to help others achieve what I had achieved through property investment.

I wanted to be able to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

What challenges did you face when starting out or along the way?

Having come from commercial banking where I was the only female Senior Relationship Manager in the SA commercial bank this was nothing new to me. I have become very used to working in male dominated spaces since the beginning of my career. I think commercial banking is far more male dominated and stereotypical than broking.

I believe the mortgage broking industry is doing a really good job of attracting women. I love the fact high-performing female brokers are showing the way and being celebrated for their success.

Which aspect of your role do you love the most?

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the look on a client’s face when they have achieved a goal they never thought possible, and knowing that I helped them get there.

Describe your career highlight to date and what it meant to you.

Winning the 2015 South Australia Telstra Business Women’s Entrepreneur Award was recognition not only of me as a broker but as a successful business owner who is making a difference to Australians.

Why should other women consider a career in the mortgage industry?

Mortgage broking is a wonderful career for women. It’s flexible and rewarding, both financially and emotionally, and I think women have an ability to connect to clients emotionally, which makes them good at their job.

What makes a good mortgage broker?

Someone who cares deeply for their client’s wellbeing and is not in it for the money.

In your view, why is it important to have a mix of male and female mortgage brokers?

Every client is different and will want different things from you, as their broker. Just as it’s important for clients to have a choice of lenders and products, it’s extremely important to have a diverse range of brokers so each client can find the perfect one for them.

Awarding our Victorian Brokers

Thank you to everyone who attended the AFG Victoria 2017 Awards Night on Wednesday 19th July at Showtime Events Centre.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our award finalists?and ultimate winners in each category for the 2016/17 year. It has been an amazing year for us all, plenty of changes in a vibrant industry that continues to grow and flourish and provide opportunities for all brokers big and small.

Well done on all your hard work, and we look forward to a successful 2017/18!

Broker Group of the Year

Loan Gallery Finance Pty Ltd

Broker Group of the Year: Finalists

Broker of the Year

Alexander Sobolevsky, Link Mortgage Services

Broker of the Year: Finalists

AFG Home Loans Award

Chris Akyildiz (Orange Home Loans)

Insurance Writer Award

Nancy Gupta (Money Providers)

Equipment Finance Award

Daniel Zadnik (Hawthorn Finance)

Commercial Writer Award

Larry Zhou (Link Capital Finance)

Residential Lender BDM of the Year Award

Mark Pascoe (ANZ)

Commercial Lender BDM of the Year Award

Nigel Anthony (Liberty)

Rising Star Award

Jasmeet Singh (Australian Loan Xperts)

Rising Star Award: Second Place

Sadish Visvalingam (Premier Financial Advisors)

Best Diversified Business Award

ARG Finance

Best Broker Group – Sole Operator

Eugene Sholomov (Minfin Australia)

Best Broker Group 1-3 Loan Writers

Link Mortgage Services

 

Our top brokers in Victoria for 2017

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we are incredibly proud of all the hard work our brokers put into providing fantastic customer service and support. At AFG we champion our brokers’ ability to find a loan that matches your particular needs, at a time and a place that suits you. Our Victorian brokers provide mortgage and commercial broking services in Melbourne and throughout regional Victoria, and?we can put you in touch with a broker in your area.

Each year we reward our brokers for all their efforts, and at the AFG Victoria 2017 Awards Night held in July we congratulated the following award winners and finalists:

 

Broker Group of the Year

Loan Gallery Finance Pty Ltd

Broker Group of the Year: Finalists

Broker of the Year

Alexander Sobolevsky, Link Mortgage Services

Broker of the Year: Finalists

AFG Home Loans Award

Chris Akyildiz (Orange Home Loans)

Insurance Writer Award

Nancy Gupta (Money Providers)

Equipment Finance Award

Daniel Zadnik (Hawthorn Finance)

Commercial Writer Award

Larry Zhou (Link Capital Finance)

Rising Star Award

Jasmeet Singh (Australian Loan Xperts)

Rising Star Award: Second Place

Sadish Visvalingam (Premier Financial Advisors)

Best Diversified Business Award

ARG Finance

Best Broker Group – Sole Operator

Eugene Sholomov (Minfin Australia)

Best Broker Group 1-3 Loan Writers

Link Mortgage Services

Real estate cheat sheet

If buying or selling for the first time, you might be bamboozled by all the real estate jargon bandied about. Here is our A-Z guide to what it all means.

Accrued depreciation

The total depreciation of a property over a period of time. Usually the difference between the replacement value at purchase and its present appraised value.

Appreciation

An increase in a property’s value over time. Property can appreciate in value due to increased demand, inflation and/or interest rate changes.

Authority to sell

The official contract a vendor signs to give an agent permission to sell a property on their behalf. The contract also usually details the agent’s fees and any advertising costs.

Breach of contract

When a seller or buyer dishonours one of more of the conditions in the sale contract, such as a vendor failing to make agreed repairs or a buyer changing their mind after the cooling-off period.

Bridging finance

A short-term loan to help cover costs between selling one property and buying another.

Buyer’s advocate

Also known as a buyer’s agent, this is a licensed professional who negotiates the sale on a buyer’s behalf. Think of it as the opposite of a regular real estate agent, who works on behalf of the seller. A buyer’s advocate can also help source property for you.

Caveat

A legal notice that someone (the caveator) has claimed a particular unregistered interest in a property.

Certificate of title

The legal document certifying property ownership. If you have a mortgage, your lender will hold the certificate until your loan is repaid.

Conveyancing

The area of law that deals with the transfer of property from one party to another. Your conveyancer represents your interests as a buyer or seller. They will prepare the contract of sale, research the property and its certificate of title, calculate any owed rates and manage settlement with the lender.

Cooling-off period

A period in which a buyer can legally withdraw from a property sale. Different states and territories have different cooling off periods and a termination penalty may still apply if you withdraw. There is usually no cooling-off period when you buy at auction.

Covenant

A condition placed on the use of a property, such as a height restriction or a stipulation about building materials.

Depreciation

The wear and tear on a building or fixtures, which you can claim on your income tax if your property is for investment and built after July 1985. You will need a quantity surveyor to prepare a schedule of depreciation on your property to calculate how much you can claim.

Easement

A section of land registered on a property title that someone is entitled to use even though they are not the owner, e.g. a shared driveway.

Encroachment

When a neighbour violates the rights of an adjoining property owner by building something on their land.

Encumbrance

A restriction or notice placed on land, which is usually listed on the certificate of title. A covenant is an example of an encumbrance, as is an easement (see above). Governments can also register an encumbrance on a property to let buyers know of a prior land use.

Equity

The value built up in a property minus any money owed.

Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

The cost of securing a loan when you need to borrow more than 80 per cent of a property’s value. LMI covers the lender’s risk should the property value fall, even though the insurance is paid by the borrower.

Negative gearing

Borrowing money to buy an investment property and the cost of owning that property (interest repayments, rates, repairs etc.) is more than the income received from rent. In other words, you make a loss, which can be claimed against your income tax.

Off the plan

Buying a dwelling, usually an apartment, before it is built.

Strata title

Ownership of an individual unit in an apartment or townhouse complex, which also has shared areas, such as a driveway, garden or swimming pool. These shared areas are owned and maintained collectively with the other unit owners.

Tenants in common

When two or more people own a property and each person’s ownership interest is specified as a certain percentage.

Title search

A title search researches the historical and current ownership and usage of a property.

Torrens title

When a purchaser owns both the house and the land on which it is built. This is the most traditional form of home ownership in Australia.

Zoning

The usage category applied to a parcel of land by a local council or other government authority. Zoning will determine, for example, if you can build units or operate a business on a property.

Regulator activity begins to bite: Mortgage Index – October 2017

AFG’s latest Mortgage Index results released today shows that major structural change in the Australian lending landscape is continuing.

“Today’s results paint a very different picture from this time last year,” said AFG CEO David Bailey. “Regulator-led tightening of investor lending has led to a further drop in investor volume and they are now sitting at an all time low of 29% of the market.

The shift in lender appetite from investors to upgraders is also evident in average loan size. “The national average home loan is now sitting at an all time high of $491,000,” said Mr Bailey. “This increase can be explained by the fact that people generally spend more for their primary place of residence than they do for an investment property.

The number of people looking to refinance has dropped to 25%, whilst those keen to upgrade their living situation is increasing with upgraders now representing 41% of the market. “This is also likely to be a reflection of the lack of lending options on the table for investors wanting to refinance, as lenders pull back from the investor market to meet regulator demands,” said Mr Bailey.

The major lenders’ share of the market is also down to a post-GFC low of 64.4% as borrowers continue to explore alternatives outside of the major bank owned brands.

Looking at loan type, fixed rates are now at 26.3% of all loans which confirms many Australians are anticipating that the next interest rate move will be up,” said Mr Bailey.

First home buyers are enjoying their third consecutive quarter in double digits since the beginning of 2014. “National market share for first home buyers has lifted to 13% across the last quarter, helped in part by new stamp duty concessions kicking in on July 1 for this segment of the market in Victoria and New South Wales.”

Victoria continues to set the pace with lodgement volumes in that state up 27% on the first quarter of last year whilst every other state has lost momentum to varying degrees. The strength of the Victorian home market is also evidenced in the average loan size for that state, which is 5% higher than it was at the same time last year.

“Overall, volumes are up on the previous two quarters, however, compared to the same time last year they are flat. This translates into the view that regulator-led changes are being felt everywhere except Victoria,” concluded Mr Bailey.

 

Women in Broking: Michelle Towner, Towner Finance in Western Australia

Following in our Women in Broking series, we interview Michelle Towner, director of Towner Finance, in Perth, WA.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a mortgage advisor?

There was no one thing that inspired me and to be honest I almost fell into the industry. In 2000 we were buying a property and were referred to a local mortgage broker who came out for a chat. We had never dealt with a mortgage broker before and did not know what to expect but, as is required, we needed to give the broker a lot of supporting documentation and at the end of the meeting she was amazed at just how quickly I was able to produce whatever she needed.

This led to a conversation about organisation and efficiency and whether or not I would be interested in becoming a mortgage broker. Within two months I had joined the industry and quickly realised it was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

What challenges did you face when starting out or along the way?

I don’t remember ever feeling excluded or being treated differently because of my gender but can remember going to industry functions in the early days and being one of the very few females in the room.

I have never considered that being a female is a barrier to entry or impediment to success and have just been myself, which seems to have worked well.

Which aspect of your role do you love the most?

It might sound like a cliché but I can honestly say that there is nothing more rewarding than helping our clients achieve their financial objectives. Making that phone call to let them know their loan is approved, still gives me so much joy. It has never been about the money – in fact, I don’t think about what each lender pays for commission. The only thing that matters is arranging finance for our clients that truly works for them.

If you are doing it for the right reasons the money will come.

Describe your career highlight to date and what it meant to you.

It was a while ago now, being acknowledged by the MFAA as the best broker in Australia under 30 in 2006 was a proud moment for me – that was a tangible validation that the effort I had put in over those early years was worthwhile.

More recently is starting Towner Finance and seeing the amazing success I have received in such a short period of time and the number of referrals that are flowing in from new clients to Towner Finance.

Why should other women consider a career in the mortgage industry?

I don’t think it matters if you are male or female… if you have the right attributes, are organised and have the ability to keep things moving along on multiple fronts at once this is a very rewarding industry on so many levels.

What makes a good mortgage broker?

Organisation, empathy and an ability to multitask definitely helps. It is also important to be a people person because personal relationships matter not only when assisting clients and working to help them achieve their dreams but building and maintaining strong relationships with key people at each of the lenders can free up channels of communication and allow you to get things done quickly.

Keeping abreast of lender policy is also a critical aspect of being a great broker. We hear a lot of stories about brokers who do no more than punch some details into their software and offer the client only the options that are returned. Maintaining a thorough knowledge of lender policies can allow you to get deals, which may appear difficult at first glance, across the line.

In your view, why is it important to have a mix of male and female mortgage brokers?

As in any area of life, I believe it takes men and women working together to make the world go around.

Interior design on a budget

Mention interior designers and most people think glossy magazines, luxe fit-outs and big bucks. But interior designers are not necessarily expensive, and the right advice from the right style guru could add some panache and pizzazz to your décor for fewer dollars than you think. It’s as much about knowing who to use as it is about knowing how to use and when to use an interior designer.

When building

An interior designer can help inject your personal style and personality into your new home. If building a custom or architect-designed home, an interior designer will help connect your carefully crafted exterior with what’s within. Your architect and designer may even work hand in hand to ensure there’s continuity throughout. It’s about creating spaces you enjoy but also those that function efficiently.

Inviting a designer to work on a new home is like presenting a painter with a blank canvas. But don’t wait until your house is complete to introduce your designer. Bring them into the project while it’s under construction to help choose materials for critical design features, such as the kitchen, bathrooms and floors.

Even if building a project home, with limited choices of features and materials, you can make the most of a designer to stamp your own style. Find a designer who is willing to work for just a few hours at an agreed rate to provide advice on colour, art choices and soft furnishings.

Avoid incorporating too many fads into permanent fittings and fixtures. Tastes, trends and technology change so limit bold statements to furniture and décor you can switch out easily.

When renovating

Before you knock down walls or put up new ones, invest in a visit from an interior designer for sound advice and fresh thinking. A good designer will listen to your brief but overlay it with their experience and insights, which means they can see around the corners you can’t, helping you maximise design opportunities and avoid costly mistakes. Your designer can also project manage some aspects of the renovation for you, which is handy if you work full-time. Costs vary but add at least 10 per cent to your renovation budget for this service.

Show your designer any special items you wish to display, such as a painting or a collection, to ensure your remodel will accommodate them. Interior designers focus on the big picture but also bring an eye for detail to ensure your renovation reflects you, your interests and your lifestyle.

One of the biggest benefits of using an interior designer is their ability to act as a renovation referee, ensuring the project caters to both his and her needs and encouraging compromise where required.

When selling

This is when designer tastes can really pay off. A well-staged home can help seal the deal sooner and potentially fetch bigger bucks than if you styled it yourself.

Staging can cost thousands, especially if you hire furniture and art (which can be worth it), but a designer can also help you show your house in its best light on a budget.

One of the first priorities is to declutter. A designer is likely to be more ruthless and less emotional about what to display and will know how to make rooms appear as light and bright as possible.

Ask your designer to advise on paint, window dressings and soft furnishings, all of which can be easy and inexpensive to change before your house goes on the market.


How to work on a budget with an interior designer

  • Find a designer who is willing to work for an hourly rate and be specific about how you wish to use their time. You might, for example, ask them to come up with design ideas on the proviso you put the effort into bringing them to life.
  • Share your decorating budget with the designer so they select furnishings, fixtures and fabrics you can afford.
  • Ask your designer to develop a mood board with colours and materials so you can create the look yourself.
  • If your budget is super skinny, engage a designer just to scope your colours. You can get expert advice on the right paint palette for as little as $150 an hour.
  • Find images in magazines and online to explain what you do and don’t like.

Official cash rate remains unchanged at 1.5%

After a weekend of football excitement, all eyes were on the Reserve Bank of Australia board meeting today where it was decided to once again leave the official cash rate unchanged for the 14th consecutive month.

With regulatory changes to investor lending appearing to have taken some heat out of the Sydney property market, in particular, the RBA continues to take a wait and watch approach due to modest growth and inflation forecasts as well as continued concerns around low wages growth and the impact of rising power prices on households.

Do you have any questions about your mortgage? An AFG broker can assist — if you haven’t already got one on your side we can help put you in touch.

What does CX mean? Why do I keep hearing it?

CX stands for Customer Experience. We use the term CX to refer to the interaction between you and your customer over the duration of their relationship with you. The CX movement has been a catalyst for the redesign of customer processes and interactions to increase customer loyalty, improve relationships and create more true advocates of your business.

And why is CX so important? It’s a space where you can demonstrate a real competitive advantage.

Many businesses talk a good game when it comes to being customer-centric, but often it’s just that. CX isn’t a fad, it just has a new moniker.?It’s here to stay, and we need a new focus on it for the years ahead.

The size of the prize for us as a mortgage broking group is big.?We’re looking to attract, convert and retain better customers, reduce our costs, reduce our churn and increase our efficiencies.?We’re looking to lead the way in our industry when it comes to market intel and innovation, better respond to the needs of tomorrow’s customer, better anticipation of business trends and customer behaviours.? We’re also striving to see the trend of customers choosing to engage a broker continue to rise. 52%+ of Australians choose to use a mortgage broker today and it’s our job to give clients the best CX we can, give them more and more reasons to keep coming back, and to illustrate wherever we can with the many benefits we bring to the table.

How can your business ensure you are focusing on your customers’ experience?

  • Listen to your customers at every turn — understand how they are feeling before, during, and after their service experience with you to understand their expectations and how well you’ve managed and met them. Listen in to what they are saying on social media and take advantage of consumer sentiments. Become a thought leader when it comes to uncertainty around rate moves — let your clients know you hear their concerns and address them.
  • Review your business processes regularly to ensure you are utilising technological innovation where possible, to make your customers’ experience easier.
  • Reinforce your focus on the customer experience with your whole team to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Invest in business and data analytics to better understand what motivates your customers and when is the best time to get in touch with them or better understand the sorts of content or messaging they are looking to engage with. Our Business Intelligence tool is the perfect place to start when it comes to data on your customers to give you the insight you need.
  • Spend time understanding the customers who choose NOT to do business with you and their reasons why. Often the most valuable lessons can be learned from those not in your patch and understanding more on the hurdles or barriers as to why they aren’t doing business with you or referring you to their clients.

It’s a well-known and often cited fact that around 80% of consumers will pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience1.
A recent report by KPMG suggests by far the biggest pain point for Gen Y professionals is the poor customer experience with their banks at a whopping 42%, compared to just 11% who cite interest rates as their biggest pain point2. With stats like this you can see why great CX is so important when it comes to our business and to our ongoing growth.

AFG brokers on the SMART program can easily keep track of their customer feedback with settlement survey data. Your full history is available via Business Intelligence. Talk to your BDM or RM to find out more.

1 White House Office of Consumer Affairs
2 KPMG – Banking on the Future report