We chat with Jason Back, Managing Director of The Australian Lending and Investment Centre, about his transition from banking into mortgage broking, his missed opportunity as a dolphin trainer, and why he’s passionate about education in the finance sector.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
I’ve been the Managing Director of The Australian Lending and Investment Centre (ALIC) for the last 5 years.
Before that, I worked at ANZ in a variety of roles. I started out at ANZ when I was 17, when I decided that full time study wasn’t for me. I worked as a bank teller part time, while also studying part time, and enjoyed earning money and engaging in customer interactions. I showed initiative, worked hard, was brought on full time at ANZ, and worked my way around the company while continuing my part time studies for the next 10 years.
Being in the retail world and at the frontline of banking, lending was never too far off. After a restructure at ANZ in 2012, I was offered a retrenchment and left there on good terms after 20 years of service. It was a great opportunity to take some time off, spend time with family, study, surf and play golf.
Several months into this break, I was approached by Mark Davis and Kevin Agent to take a look at their business. At the time they were re-engineering a cultural change piece and wanted someone to help. After consulting for them for 6 months, I was asked to stay on as the Managing Director… and here I am.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
I’ve had about a bazillion challenges!
Since the early 2000s I’ve held senior leadership roles, and the biggest challenge I’ve found in my career is working with people. The workplace is like a kaleidoscope. We’re not all the same and we come from different backgrounds and cultures. People have challenges in their lives, and work isn’t (and shouldn’t be) their number one priority. I’ve always found it vital to be agile, to cater for the diversification you’ll see.
What do you love about what you do?
Our industry – banking and finance – has significant problems, both process-wise and when it comes to education. Working in a sphere that involves money always introduces an element of mistrust. It’s a national pastime to bash the banks!
So, one of the things I’m conscious of is financial fitness. We’ve got some challenges in our country around the level of education and the financial fitness of Australian society. Our responsibility is to put the client first and focus on doing the best thing by them.
I get up every morning for the customer. We’ve got a huge customer base of about 12,000 clients. It’s so vital that we give high quality advice, and by doing that we’re genuinely able to make a difference in people’s lives.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dolphin trainer.
I grew up in Perth near the beach, and surfed a lot. I had the opportunity to do dolphin training through work experience at high school, but at the last second it fell through. I ended up doing work experience at my uncle’s law firm instead. So, that was a bit different. My small window of opportunity to becoming a dolphin trainer closed, and I ended up in the business world.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
Surround yourself with mentors, coaches and peers
Find really good people and seek advice. They don’t need to be in your industry, you’ll get a range of different useful views and opinions from other people.
2. Do less things well
This is particularly related to running a successful business. You have to be careful about being a jack of all trades. Recognise your core strengths and play off them, rather than just focusing on improving your weaknesses.
3. Control your reaction
It’s the only thing you can control. Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Learn how to train your mind to react: think, get clear and then respond.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
I’m passionate about the focus on education and training levels in our industry. Finance can be an attractive industry to enter into. One of the most critical factors about doing this is that we’re custodians for people’s financial decisions. People come into our industry thinking they can do it, but may not necessarily have the background or experience to guarantee clients get the best outcomes.
There needs to be better training and mentoring programs, and this is everyone’s responsibility – banks, educators, industry bodies and businesses.
I run another business called Broker Essentials to help brokers who’ve been in the industry a few years. We run courses designed to get you thinking about running a business, not just being a broker. It focuses on everything, including process. Lots of people focus on that ‘golden hour’ you spend with a client when really, there are lots of other hours you spend on clients that you can provide excellent service, even when you’re not face-to-face with them.
We’d love to chat with you about how you can achieve success, just like Jason. We can help you find your ideal position and work out the steps to get there. Reach out for a free career consultation or business consultation.