Clients looking for properties drive demand
While Hank Hong is the first to say mortgage brokers are well paid for the work they do, he’s also quick to acknowledge there’s plenty of personal sacrifices to be made along the way.
Hong (pictured above), a mortgage broker at Mortgage Pros in Sydney, often referred to by his nickname “Hank the Bank”, said a broker needed to be prepared to sacrifice two or three years of their lives to build their client base.
“This means working seven days a week and working a minimum of 14 to 16-hour days,” Hong said. “It’s a life where you get rewarded extremely well for the work you put in.”
“I get to build a life for my family I could not have dreamed of when I was younger. I am thankful every day I get to do this life and I still wake up at 5am to do my work seven days a week. “
In fact, Hong admits he “lives and breathes being a broker” and has walked away from family dinners, and parties, to take clients’ calls and recently even completed three client calls at 10am only six hours after his child was born.
Hong said he, Peter Ha, Eric Yeo and Harry Cui, who work together out of their North Strathfield office, were all doing well in this unprecedented financial environment.
“We had a record submission in August of $112 million in submissions with four brokers, on average we are doing about $80 million to $100 million each month,” Hong said.
Most of Hong’s clients are homeowners “wanting to take advantage of the possible market bottom”.
“I call them post-code hunters as people are trying to make moves into the suburbs that they will raise a family in the next 10 years,” Hong said. “Schools catchments are a massive draw now and clients are aiming to also upgrade in their own area if they are happy there. “
Pre-approvals now make up about 80 per cent of Hong’s business while previously 50% would have been refinancing and 50% purchasing property in the run up to the spring/summer season.
Hong’s comments echo what other mortgage experts are seeing with the run of interest rate pauses having encouraged investors to show renewed interest in the property sector.
“Refinances are quite hard to complete now with bank retention teams being super aggressive; matching rates and providing cashbacks to clients when the broker channel cannot access this,” Hong said.
“Unless the refinancer has reasons other than wanting a better rate, it is actually better to just reprice the clients.”
When it came to growing a business, Hong said having “a front and back office would be ideal” and the best customer service experience was built on systems and processes.
“With crazy amounts of compliance there is no way you can grow as a broker with strong support,” he said. “The brokers in our office deal with every single client and know them on a first name basis. It's the way we have kept the higher number of repeat and referral clients.”
Hong started out in the finance industry at the age of 18 when in his first year at university, he accepted a job as a receptionist for a mortgage manager before working his way up into credit.
Despite the hard times, Hong said he had learnt a lot from his mistakes which he said contributed to him becoming a better broker, and ruthless when it came to sales.
“If I am up against another broker the competitiveness in me kicks in to win the deal. My mentality is that if I don’t win the deal my kids don’t eat.”
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