What does it take to be regional mortgage adviser of the year?

NZ Mortgage Awards regional winner reveals secrets to success

What does it take to be regional mortgage adviser of the year?

Amidst the bustling landscape of New Zealand's mortgage industry, regional brokers often stand as unsung heroes, diligently serving their communities with unparalleled dedication and expertise.

This year, their contributions took centre stage at the 2024 NZ Mortgage Awards, where one exceptional regional broker emerged triumphant, clinching the coveted title of New Zealand Financial Services Group (NZFSG) Adviser of the Year - Regional.

Cambridge-based My Mortgage director and adviser Claire Williamson won the award, beating seven other excellence awardees.

Claire Williamson was also awarded as Women Leaders in Mortgage in NZ in the Elite Woman's survey. See the full special report here.

This came after judges assessed overall performance, including loan volumes, year-on-year growth, lead generation, client retention, quality of submissions, and conversion rates over a 12-month period.

“I speak to people every day seeking advice on purchasing first homes, building, investment properties, lending strategies, and lots more. I feel really grateful to be a trusted adviser and to use my knowledge and experience to get the best results for them. It’s a special role to have,” Williamson said.

“My Mortgage Team is like an epic family. We all have differing skills and work together to get the best results for clients. I couldn’t do any of what I do without them,” she said.

A rapid rise to mortgage industry stardom 

Williamson joined the My Mortgage team in 2015 and quickly became a favourite adviser for first-home buyers, with her “fun, down-to-earth approach, and ability to relate to people of all ages”, according to her staff.

Now, she’s a managing director and senior mortgage adviser for the business and works with a variety of private clients and property professionals.

Mortgage advising is not her only passion. She also runs a small business, Velma & Beverley, holds several board roles, and is sought out for mentorship, business advisory and speaking opportunities.

She’s also written a book, Smashed Avo to Smashed Goals, aimed at first-home buyers.

The book covers every step of the buying process, from planning and preparation to purchasing your first home, and includes post-purchase tips on how to manage a home loan and make it work long-term.

“Throughout my career, I have found people are often in the dark about the home buying process and don’t know about the levers they can pull to achieve their homeownership goals,” Williamson said.

“I particularly care about my generation experiencing the pride, excitement, and freedom of home ownership, and I want more Kiwis to feel the thrill and sense of achievement that comes from walking through your own front door for the first time.”

Mortgage advising in New Zealand’s most beautiful town

Besides her natural tenacity, what gives Williamson the energy to achieve all this is the community she lives in.

Situated in the Waikato, Cambridge, which is colloquially known as the Town of Trees and Champions, features frequently in the Most Beautiful Town awards. It is here she resides amidst the fresh air in a rural property with her partner Adam who runs a plant nursery.

“The Waikato is a great place to live, and I love helping people purchase property in this stunning neck of the woods,” Williamson said.

Furthermore, it’s an “excellent time” for first homebuyers in the region, according to Williamson.

The Waikato has experienced subdued growth compared to other parts of the country, with the average asking price only increasing 0.6% year-on-year, according to realestate.co.nz’s latest report.

“Rates are likely to start to track downward in the next 12 months, but prices are still somewhat subdued and there are more sellers than there are buyers,” she said.  “This gives plenty of opportunity for first home buyers, even with lower deposits there are still many options.”

Overcoming the challenges of regional mortgage advising

Still, mortgage advising in New Zealand’s regional markets can come with its downsides. From clients not being able to meet the banks’ increasingly stringent criteria to championing mortgage advising in areas that still think going direct is the best option, regional mortgage advising can be challenging.

Williamson said the biggest challenge for her brokerage is staying updated with evolving market trends, regulations, and lender policies.

However, she said this also presents opportunities to provide valuable insights and tailored solutions to clients and making sure they have the right information for their unique situation.

“Building strong relationships with clients is something I’m really passionate about… Getting to know them and their story, and then being able to translate that to what the banks require and when they get that approval across the line it’s an amazing feeling.”

How do you operate differently as a regional broker compared to a broker in one of the cities? Share your comments below