We chat with Chris Collard, Director and General Manager of FinancePath, about his rise to success in Mortgage Management via a career that seemed destined for corporate life. Chris is a genuine ‘yes’ man, committed to accepting exciting new opportunities in life, and he explains how that mentality has led to him becoming a successful small business owner.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
I studied a Bachelor of Economics and Marketing, and thought it would lead to a pretty standard career working for one of the many large corporates that I thought I wanted to work for.
My career began at National Mutual/AXA in an entry level finance role. Four months into my full-time career, an opportunity presented itself to help in the Information Technology part of the business. This 2 week opportunity turned into 7 years in which afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to great mentors, lead and manage various IT departments and gain fantastic exposure to best practice process management. It also highlighted to me the power of saying yes to opportunities as you never know who you will meet or what you may learn.
Once I decided I wanted to move back into finance services space another opportunity presented to moved back into a BDM role. It gave me great exposure to small businesses, how business owners operated, how the company built relationships with their clients, and how offices are managed. That intrigued me.
Then an opportunity presented itself through a friend (who was also my mortgage broker). He suggested I buy half his business, so we could grow it together. I had the skillset to complement what he wanted to build, so it made sense.
I joined FinancePath’s journey when the business was three people, and now with Roland’s help we have twenty staff. He helped us place our first employee! It’s a fantastic achievement in only eight years.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
In the early days it was working out what I wanted to do, and I know that lots of my peers experienced a similar struggle. When you start your career, often you’re just happy to have a job. But once you have a job, you tend to start to get pickier about what it is. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to do early on, didn’t know what opportunities were available.
I knew I wanted to be in the SME space, but it took me a while to find the right opportunity, and the right path to get there. I found my opportunity because I decided to never say no to anything. That’s why I ended up in IT for several years – by accepting an opportunity.
I decided early on in my career that I wasn’t going to say no to opportunities. The experiences I have gained and my exposure to amazing mentors have led me to where I am today. I’ve always lived by seizing opportunities. Whatever it may be, I believe you should continue to open yourself to opportunities.
What do you love about what you do?
The one thing that gets me out of bed every morning is that I’m driven to make sure clients have access to the same experience I had when I was a client of FinancePath. It’s an amazing feeling when you have clarity of where you’re at financially, and that is what we aim to provide our clients each day.
In 2002, as a client of my now business partner, I was fortunate enough to experience the power of great advice. I walked away from our meeting with a crystal-clear idea of my goals and what I needed to do to make them a reality.
One of my key focuses now is ensuring that our team all share that same passion for wanting to deliver clarity, accountability and education to each client interaction. I love getting results for people. Seeing our clients achieve their own dreams is what drives me and the team each day.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like many kids in Victoria I had a healthy passion for AFL and my beloved Richmond Football Club. Unfortunately, my skills and talent let me down, so an AFL career was put on hold and I had to change that dream in my late teens.
I always wanted to be in a team and in an office environment, and I’m good with numbers. When I started to work I also found that I have a skill in building relationships and listening to people.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
What I’m looking for with all young people that join our business is the drive to never say no to an opportunity that’s presented. This might be in work, or when meeting someone. Never say no – you never know where it’s going to lead. My top three tips are:
You need to be interested
To be interested, you have to want to understand where a client is at and where they want to get to.
2. You need to be curious
Be curious enough to ask the relevant questions. A lot of people ask the minimum questions that are required to get the loan approved for compliance, but a great person will ask deeper questions to get to know the client. Develop a relationship, be curious about their life. Curiosity is key to establishing a connection.
3. You need to care
Care enough to understand that this is the 1st or 2nd time the client is going through this type of process. Care enough to offer that extra update or provide the time to ensure they understand what you have recommended. You’ll stand out from the crowd in this industry, develop a strong career and lead in the space if you do this.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
I think the industry is in an interesting space at the moment. Technology is all the rage, whether it be AI, online offerings, or DIY tools that are giving people the ability to take more control of their finances.
I think this is all very exciting for our industry, even though a lot of people see it as a threat.
In the future, I believe you’ll come to see two different service offerings emerge:
- DIY, self-service options for the tech savvy; and
- Traditional, genuine face-to-face advice providers.
For businesses to be able to play in the space and survive and thrive, they need to be clear on what space they play in – the technology, or advice space. I’m not suggesting you can’t have technology and advice in your offering. However, you need to be clear on what you provide clients. Clarify your service proposition and why are you different. Articulate that to clients, and the resulting benefit. If you’re not clear, you’re going to struggle with the technology push in the space. If you are clear, then your clients will understand what you stand for.
Chris has experienced a lot over his career, and we’re glad to have been a part of growing his business to where it is today! If you’d like help recruiting great people to grow your business, reach out for a free business consultation. Or, if you’d like help finding employment in the finance space, ask us about having a free career consultation.