Secrets to Success with Katrina Lagos | Platinum People Group

We chatted to Katrina Lagos, Director of Vision Finance, about her career journey to date, and how it’s taken her from hospitality to sole Director of a mortgage broking business.

Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.

I spent my university years working in hospitality whilst completing my Bachelor of Arts at Monash University and Bachelor of Business at RMIT. I credit this experience for providing me with a skill set to deal with challenges confidently and intuitively. Whilst my plan was to pursue a career in commercial real estate, I temporarily detoured and completed 4½ years in Hotel Management at the Portsea Hotel.

Eventually I did move into residential real estate, and that’s where I was introduced to mortgage broking services. The field of finance appealed to me as it is a very solutions-based framework. I commenced working for Henley Homes for 6 weeks before the department I was in was closed down.

My manager at the time asked me if I’d like to start a mortgage broking business with him. He had 20 years’ experience compared to my 6 weeks, so it was a great opportunity to partner with him. He was an exceptionally good mortgage broker and a fantastic mentor, so we built a very solid business over the two years that we were partnered, and I was fortunate to learn a lot from him.

My sister was a Business Coach at the time and approached me to join our business. We decided it would be best to embark on a new business venture and thus Vision Finance Australia was born. This was 16 years ago, and the industry was very different back then. We worked very successfully together for 14 years, before she decided to return to her true passion of Mindset Coaching. As of August 2016, I became the sole director of Vision Finance.

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest things about mortgage broking in the early days was differentiating ourselves and demonstrating our value to clients. There was some stigma around brokers being “in it for themselves” and not looking after clients. The challenge was showing that we really are professionals and are wanting to look after clients for the long term. For our business to be successful, we must have their best interests at heart at all times.

We’ve overcome this challenge of preconceived ideas about mortgage brokers by building relationships and a solid reputation based on great customer outcomes. It takes time to grow a business this way as it is a very organic approach. That said, the Mornington Peninsula is a relatively closed network of people, so reputation is everything. Vision Finance doesn’t advertise at all; we’re 100% referral-based, and that’s a big part of our philosophy. With every new client we take on, our aim is to build a long-term relationship with them. To achieve this, we must offer ongoing service and support for them, as well as providing sound guidance and advice. Given we have been operating for so long, we now have a new generation of clients that we are working with, as many of our original clients are referring their children to us so that we can assist with first home purchases. We consider this to be a true compliment and privilege.

What do you love about what you do?

I’m really interested in property and property investment. I have multiple investment properties myself, and it’s a real passion.

I don’t think our education system does enough to educate people about money and making good choices. I strongly believe that it is about making good choices early on and providing an education on how people can make their money work for them. I tend to have the philosophy. “if you’re green you grow, if you’re ripe you rot”, so I am continually looking to learn and grow, and I encourage the same in my clients.

Finance is an exceptionally dynamic industry, and we’re always evolving. I love the fact that it’s a fast paced and service-based industry.

When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

I can remember telling my father that I wanted to work in a bank – as even back then I liked the idea of working with money. As I got older and purchased my first home at 28 yrs old I developed a passion for property. Going into real estate seemed like a logical step until I discovered finance – an industry in which I could combine my love of money and finance!

What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?

  1.     You need to be focused and consistent  

Too many people can’t stay on the one path; they get easily distracted. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and take consistent steps to work towards this goal.

  1.     Have a passion for it

You must be passionate about finance to excel. It is a very challenging industry, so you need to be passionate about it in order to succeed.

  1.     Put the client first

Understand their needs, and always look to add value.

What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?

I think the value proposition of brokers has increased tremendously in the last 12 months. Banks have tightened up their lending criteria across the board and understanding the niche markets that lenders offer means we can really take a lot of stress away from clients and achieve a good outcome more quickly and with less stress for the client.

According to the latest data released by research group comparator, a CoreLogic business, during the September 2018 quarter mortgage brokers settled an unprecedented 59.1% of all residential home loans. This is the highest percentage of loans that brokers have ever written and it supports the notion that our customers value the services mortgage brokers can provide.

We’ve seen a significant change in the industry, and the change is here to stay. It’s a good thing for the industry to have tightened up. It means that when interest rates do invariably rise, people will be better placed to deal with higher rates. Educating clients properly is the new reality, and people need to be prepared for more stringent lending.

I run a very back-end heavy office myself as a broker. I have four full-time team members and their primary function is to provide excellent customer service at each stage of the process from loan submission to settlement and through to after settlement care. I carry the cost of that because I want to ensure that my clients are getting the best service and that their loans continue to meet their needs. Clients can’t always change lenders, but it is often possible for us to negotiate with the client’s existing lender to obtain a better interest rate. We continue to monitor the various lenders and periodically call our clients with the good news that we have secured them a better interest rate – without them having to do anything.

We’re so pleased to have met and worked with Katrina. She’s an impressive woman doing great things in the industry, and we’ve loved watching Vision Finance grow and develop over recent years. If you’d like advice on how to grow your career or build a successful business like Katrina has, feel free to get in touch for a free consultation.