We chat with John Mohnacheff, Group Sales Manager at Liberty, about his impressive career involving working in a trade, seventeen years in banking and helping Liberty launch the non-conforming loan space in Australia. Hear his tips for being successful, and why he believes ‘mortgage brokers’ should be a thing of the past.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
I started off working a trade. I went overseas, came back, and realised though I do love working with my hands (and still do) I had ambitions of a career in early 20s that paid a bit more money. I looked for opportunities, and found an advert for Westpac – starting up an insurance broking division. That sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a go.
While working at the bank, we had very good performances and regular awards nights. I had some great mentors while working there, and one night while celebrating our wins, one of them told me something I’ll never forget:
“It’s not that bloody hard to be a star in the bank”.
That brought me from being happily inebriated to being sober and serious quite quickly – I realised at that moment that if I was to prove myself, I’d have to do it myself and prove what I could achieve.
After seventeen years in a successful banking career, it was time for a change.. A very dear friend told me about Liberty, and how they needed a sales guy. I was cautious to work for a startup – but decided I had nothing to lose!
I was 41 or 42 at the time, and ready to take this from start to finish.
Liberty was a pioneer in the non-conforming space – doing what had never been done in Australia before. Back then 99% of lending was controlled by the banks. If banks didn’t do a home loan, no one else would do a home loan. It was a brave new world we were paving at Liberty. Our slogan was ‘where to go when the banks so no’ – It was an unproven product, in a market that had no knowledge of what a non-conforming home loan was.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome personally was to remain focused, committed and driven after the GFC hit. Securitised home loan providers went through a horrible period – it was downright scary! Many other lenders left the market, or dramatically reduced their exposure to home loans. I had to keep my team focused on the road forward and keep batting for us – a hard task when we went from stellar performance to almost nothing over two months. We made a conscious decision to keep fighting, and stay true to the cause. It was a bloody hard two or three years, but we knew that one day the GFC would be over and we’d come out bigger and stronger than ever before.
What do you love about what you do?
I get to deal with a lot of people. I thoroughly enjoy getting together with customers I’ve worked with for many years, who’ve gone from customers to friends. I enjoy the relational side of the business. We are very much a contact sport – the more people we see, the more people that get delivered the message, the more customers we can help. Meeting people is one thing and that’s part of the challenge, networking is easy – but what happens after the initial meeting and networking? It’s about the continued interaction with people and engaging with them, so they want to know more about Liberty, and ultimately help their customers with Liberty’s products.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
All kids have heroes, right? My parents used to watch Perry Mason, a lawyer who used to get up in court and saves people lives. I wanted to be a Perry Mason. I wanted to argue, work with tricky clients and stuff like that. I loved the idea of being in court fighting for people’s lives.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
1. Have the right attitude and character
You have to be brave when you make your decision and stick to it.
2. Have a strategy, and review it
Once you’ve made a decision, you need a plan for executing it. You need a business plan which, you’ve got to be constantly reviewing, questioning why things aren’t working and adapting to changing conditions. Stay focused on your goals and monitor how your business is performing.
3. You need customers
No matter what business you’re in, you need to think of the customer and how relevant your product is for them. Be relevant, and always innovate and think about what your next horizon is.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
I want brokers to drop the word ‘mortgage’ and become ‘finance brokers’, with a diversified offering. If you’re only offering mortgages, I think you’re a dinosaur. If a customer wants a car loan or a personal loan, why not help them out and organise one for them?
A loan is a loan, and though they might vary in complexity to set up, customers don’t care how complicated it is. As a finance broker, you can diversify. I want brokers to open their eyes. Some are doing it, some aren’t. Be there as a broker for the life cycle of the borrower.
A customer’s first interaction with credit is usually a personal loan or a credit card. Why shouldn’t a finance broker be there to help a young person with a personal loan? They’re then going to go on and buy a car loan, or a home loan, or maybe need a loan to start a business. Be a trusted adviser all the way through their journey.
At Platinum People Group, we’re always inspired by the career stories of industry greats like John Mohnacheff. We love helping people obtain their ideal career path, and we’d be happy to help you on your journey. Contact us for a free career consultation or business consultation today.