5 Daniel O'Brien, PFS Financial Services

PFS Financial Services
Aggregator: PLAN Australia
Bella Vista, NSW
Total value of residential loans FY2017/18: $159,946,752
Total number of residential loans FY2017/18: 370

If there’s one thing that can be said about Daniel O’Brien, it’s that he’s consistent. Among the brokers in the Top 10, his figures are some of the most stable. He wrote 30 fewer loans this year, but the total value was worth about $230,000 more.

“We were always fairly thorough with what we asked clients for, so the changes didn’t hit us as hard as perhaps it hit others,” O’Brien says.

He and his team did make some minor tweaks to systems and processes, mainly around what documents to ask clients for and when.

“I guess we just got a bit more ruthless with the people we chose to do business with, whether it be clients, referrers or banks,” he says. “We have more work to do now, post APRA and the royal commission, so we can’t waste time on unproductive relationships.”

Nevertheless, O’Brien still managed to grow his business via “the simplest of methods”, he says.

“Being efficient, communicating often and thoroughly with new and existing clients, having a sense of humour, telling the truth, doing what’s in the clients’ best interests, etc. We don’t strive to be cutting edge; we just focus on doing the little things well.”

At the same time, he acknowledges that experience, reputation and a good track record go a long way with lending-shy credit officers. When O’Brien explains the reasons why they should do a deal, they listen. “They listen because, in 14 years [of doing business] we have never had a fraudulent deal, we have never done the wrong thing and we have never had a mortgagee in possession. This track record means something. So when we do push for a deal to get supported, our prior track record comes into account. And so it should,” he says.

That doesn’t always guarantee a yes, but he believes it does give his business a better chance in this credit environment.

On working hours

O’Brien is rare among the Top 10 because he actually works a regular 35-hour week, something he says is down to his processes and very experienced team. His operations manager, Josh, has been with him for 12 years and “basically runs the show”. So the team of four has ironed out the kinks and learned from their mistakes, enabling the business to run like a “Formula One race car”.

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