Retail to real estate: a broker’s bold leap into mortgages

Former store manager now runs his own Mortgage Choice franchise

Retail to real estate: a broker’s bold leap into mortgages

In May 2020, amid a global climate of uncertainty, Chris Longwill took a bold step away from his career in retail management to dive into the world of mortgage broking.

Fast forward three-and-a-half years, Longwill (pictured above) now runs his own Mortgage Choice franchise in Tea Tree Gully and Golden Grove, in the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide, boasting a branded shopfront and a full-time loans processor.

During this relatively short time, Longwill’s career has been filled with both memorable experiences and challenges.

Attending one of Mortgage Choice’s national conferences stands out as a pivotal moment for him, offering significant personal and professional growth.

“I personally got a lot out of building my broker network, networking with like-minded people in the industry and in my aggregator,” he said. “I got a lot of personal and professional growth out of it and inspired me to push.”

On the flip side, transitioning from a broker to an owner, especially during a hectic period in his family life, presented some challenges.

“We were on our way to welcoming our second child to the world,” he said. “So it was a busy time for everyone, but we got through it on top and are stronger for it.”

His journey from a newcomer in mortgages to a successful franchise owner marks a significant transition in his professional life, highlighting the dynamic and evolving nature of the mortgage broking industry.

Speaking of evolution, a standout development within the industry for Longwill is the introduction of the best interests duty (BID).

“This change has allowed us to be trusted advisors, and have a real competitive edge versus a bank,” he said. “This holds us accountable to put the customers interest above all else, as it should be anyway, but now, we have a legal responsibility to.”

Still, Longwill recognises that there are still challenges currently facing the industry, citing the current trend of banks removing cashbacks and intensifying competition for their existing customers.

“A lot of brokers rely heavily on refinancing as part of their business, so redirecting marketing activities to capture first home buyers on, let’s say, Tiktok, is a great example of moving the focus to a different sector versus refinancers,” he said. 

For those aspiring to enter the mortgage broking industry, Longwill offers sage advice: there’s no need to rush into running your own business or working solely on commission. Personally, he thinks this is a big reason why the industry has such a high attrition rate.

“I would recommend studying for your diploma or Certificate IV prior to starting, and finding a PAYG job with a successful business near you,” he said.

“Establish your routines, processes and knowledge of the industry and customer, build your network up, and then if you still want to, fly the coop and go out on your own, or negotiate in becoming a partner at your existing firm, or gaining some trail on your deals.”

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