It was serendipity that led Marvin Coleman into the world of mortgage broking about 14 years ago. Despite experiencing some major challenges, the Mortgage Choice broker persevered over the long term to make 29 in last years’ Top 100; writing more than $93m in the year to selection.
MPA spoke with the Melbourne broker about he got started in the industry and how he overcame burnout to realise even greater success.
An unexpected career move
Coleman and his wife decided to leave London for Australia after the 2005 bombings pushed them to a turning point.
Not long after moving, they purchased an investment property and started looking for finance.
“I Googled mortgages and up popped Mortgage Choice.”
“The broker came around to my house and was ever such a nice guy.”
“He was Aussie through and through and, having come from the UK, he exemplified what an Australian was; easy going, intelligent, professional and easy to connect with.”
About two thirds of the way through the conversation, the broker asked Coleman if he would consider joining the profession.
As a chartered accountant, Coleman gave a somewhat curt response to the contrary.
But, a couple of weeks later after a discussion with his wife he called him to apologise and say he had reconsidered.
“Four months later I’d bought a mortgage choice franchise in the same area as him and we’ve been sharing an office since March 2007.”
“We’re best friends and he’s solely responsible for getting me into the industry.”
“I’m very, very grateful for that.”
Pushing through the first few years
The biggest challenge he faced in his early days was the perseverance that many brokers must exercise in pushing on and building traction.
“It’s all about your willingness to persevere and work really, bloody hard without necessarily generating any short-term returns.”
“You’ve just got to believe in yourself and know that if you keep going then the chances of you being successful are more likely.”
He says getting through the first two to four years are critical for a broker, but then after that, the possibilities are almost endless.
“If you can make it through that then you’ve got a really great chance of unlimited success, however you choose to define that.”
How he dealt with burnout
The second challenge he faced was burnout; something that came from years of hard work without any support staff.
“You’re running and running for years and years and you’re taking on a hell of a lot of responsibility and looking after people’s lives.”
“I got burned out and I realised that I simply couldn’t continue working on my own.”
He says after working on his own for so many years, he wore it as a sort of “badge of honour” that exemplified his success.
“I realised that I was the idiot.”
“What I should have done was stood back years earlier and backed myself a little bit more, and invested in resources and people.”
After taking on his first recruit in 2017, he underwent a life changing experience, and now has five staff plus his wife involved in the business.
“Transitioning from a single operator to running a team is your next key challenge for people in this industry.”
“There you have to accept that you must think beyond short term profit because you’re building a robust infrastructure which has value beyond just you.”
“You end up developing a much stronger business as a consequence – and a better service to your clients.”
A love of cycling
Collecting vinyl is one of Coleman’s great passions – a hobby he shares with everyone in his office.
“I’ve got a turntable in my office and everyone gets to listen to my music. Not everyone necessarily agrees with my taste but it’s my piece of fun and clients love it as well.”
The other passion is his bike. Last year Coleman and a group of friends rode though five countries from Budapest to Berlin and stopped at every eastern European brewery on the way.
The year before this he rode 1,000kms in six days from Newcastle to the Gold Coast to raise money for a special needs school.