We chat with Stephen McClatchie, Managing Director of Loans Australia, about his experience working as a mortgage broker through a range of aggregators, and transitioning into the role of business owner.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
I started out with a cadetship with National Mutual, which was a large company that dealt with financial services, insurance, and financial planning.
About a year into that, I went to an open session on a company that said they offered mortgage products to consumers. In Sydney in 1995, that wasn’t really heard of. I went to the information session with some friends, and I liked the idea.
Back then, Mortgage Choice had one little office in Ultimo with seven or eight lenders that could offer mortgage products to consumers. I signed up with them and began offering Mortgage Choice range of home loans, using their software and products, and also had National Mutual’s Home Loan.
While I was advising on risk products with National Mutual and working through Mortgage Choice, I was studying for a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investments at the same time. There weren’t very many finance courses back then. I learnt the ropes on the job very quickly, and became accredited. Back then you had to do a lot of the work by hand. I got used to knowing the ins and outs of serviceability via a manual calculation process.
Over the next 12-18 months, Mortgage Choice brought in a franchising model. Because I didn’t choose to become a franchisee, I couldn’t continue there, so I signed up with another aggregator.
Pretty early on I went down the investment finance track. I worked with a company where I was able to specialise in that area. I ran seminars, and was doing lots of sales and training new brokers in my role.
For a few years, I was providing investment finance options for two very large property firms, I then decided to diversify and go straight to the market, so I started the company that is now called Loans Australia.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
A big challenge for me has always been finding work-life balance. I’ve always worked pretty hard, and even early on in my career I’d be on holidays and still be working. My girlfriend (now wife) was not happy with me sitting by a pool on my laptop.
While it’s still something that challenges me even now, I make sure I take days off when I need to. I coach my son’s soccer team and go on regular holidays. I also spend time on things I enjoy, like playing golf.
What do you love about what you do?
I’m good at it, I know how to do it, and it’s rewarding. I enjoy seeing the outcomes we can deliver for people. While there’s a lot of responsibility involved in running a business, and having a tight calendar with next to no down time, I like being busy and always having something to do. I enjoy what I do, and it’s easy to come to work when you enjoy it.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A stockbroker. I liked the movie Wall Street, starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas.
I could’ve gone down that track after I completed my Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investments, but I went down the insurance and mortgage route and have enjoyed it.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
You’ve got to have a can-do, positive attitude. If it’s not infectious enough, and if you can’t get excited by meeting new clients and helping people, then this industry isn’t for you.
2. Add value
If you can’t add value to someone’s situation, there’s no reason for them to use you! Work out how you add value and put it into your approach.
3. Put systems in place
Whatever you’re going to be do, put it into a system that’s easy to duplicate so other people can come in and do what you’re doing. That way you can bring in people to help your process loans or you can bring another broker in.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
There have been regular changes and challenges around helping investors under interest-only loans. Change doesn’t really bother me at all, though. It’s interesting.
There is always going to be change – you just have to deal with what’s in front of you at the time. My advice is to try and make sure you don’t have all your loans coming out of interest-only. Stagger it so your loans are coming out at different times. It’s all about cashflow. If clients have to sell their properties… that’s when it’s a disaster. They have to work out their cashflow to find a way to manage.