We chat with MPA 20 20 mortgage broker Daniel Hustwaite, Founder and Director of Aqua Financial Services about his journey from banker to mortgage broker to business owner, challenges he’s faced along the way, and how the industry has changed – particularly in recent times.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
It’s easier for me to tell this story working backwards.
While I’ve now got a team of 10 people at Aqua Financial Services, back in 2011 when I was starting out, I was just working by myself. I started the business because I’d established really great relationships with real estate agents in my previous job, and was keen to develop these into referral relationships.
Before Aqua, I worked as a mortgage broker at Loan Site for eight years.
And before that, I started out at ANZ Bank in 1998 and worked my way through various roles. My last position at ANZ involved supervising the call centre that received loan follow-up calls from mortgage brokers, so that was how I became interested in mortgage broking.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
A major challenge in starting my own business was having to work around contractual restraints from my previous employer, making it difficult to communicate and work with clients. However, one of the greatest challenges I found when I’d started up – and this is still a major challenge today – is finding suitable personnel. It’s a real struggle trying to find skilled people who will complement the business.
(That’s why I employ the help of Roland at Platinum People Group. He has a great understanding of the type of people I need for the business.*)
*No, I wasn’t paid to say that.
What do you love about what you do?
The best part of what we do is sharing the journey with customers, from meeting them for the first time, to working with them across 6-12 months helping them get into a position to buy a home, and then hearing that they’re picking up the keys for their first home. The satisfaction of helping someone obtain their biggest asset, where they’ll raise their family, is the best feeling in the world. That’s what keeps me coming back.
Second to this is being able to employ staff, as a business owner. I love giving people employment opportunities and allowing them to provide a nice lifestyle for themselves and their families.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a carpenter. And I actually became one! I finished school at a young age and was a qualified carpenter by 18. As I matured, though, I wanted to broaden my horizons, and so went back to school to get into finance. I still do some carpentry at home as a hobby.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
Put in the groundwork.
Becoming successful in mortgage broking doesn’t happen overnight. It will take at least 12-18 months of building your pipeline of customers before you start reaping the rewards of your efforts. Be prepared to put in the hard yards at the beginning.
Give every customer the service you’d like to receive yourself.
All mortgage brokers offer the exact same thing. What separates you from the others is the experience you offer your customers. As I always tell my team, if you can do something no other broker is doing, customers will talk about you to their friends and you’ll get referred. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and give them the service you’d like to receive in their position.
Your business will only be as successful as the people in it.
If you choose to start a business, I can’t emphasise this enough: you must look after your staff. I do this through small things like providing a fully catered breakfast every Friday morning during our team catch up. We also have a mid-year function and a Christmas function, with an award for the most improved person in the business. It’s not about celebrating the best performing or the most impressive, but about appreciating people’s hard work and improvement. You can’t do it on your own, so look after your people.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
A stand out for me is the tightening of banks’ lending policies.
The biggest changes I’ve ever seen in mortgage lending policies have been in last 12-18 months. It’s all about governing bodies ensuring that banks are lending responsibly and that customers aren’t overextending themselves.
However, these changes pose a big challenge to our industry, with a lot more compliance work required on each customer file and a lot more hours needed per loan. We used to be able to write a loan in half an hour. Now it takes 2-3 hours, and requires a lot more preparation. So, there’s a lot more admin in mortgage broking due to these changes.
This is new for everybody in the industry, and all these rules and regulations will be fine-tuned over the next couple of years. We’re all still trying to comply with them and also see what impact this has. As it’s still relatively new, I expect that policy changes will keep evolving and continually changing over next 24 months.
If you’d like advice for building a successful career or business, we’d love to help you like we’ve helped Daniel. Please get in touch for a free business consultation or a free career consultation.