The world needs mortgage brokers, says owner-manager of Mortgage Choice Mackay Ben Phillips. With banks struggling to offer timely and personalised service during the pandemic in his community, the brokerage has seen record submission months and a surge in interviews. MPA spoke with Phillips about what he believes the future holds for the industry as well as the challenges he has faced as a business owner.
Why he got into broking
Phillips started out as a broker in 2006 after coming in board with his brother at Mortgage Choice. Previously a business development manager for an electrical company, Phillips was up for something new and challenging.
“Investing and finance has always been an interest of mine.”
“As the broking carried on, we did realise there were other avenues we could offshoot on.”
“Another brother of mine, who was an insurance broker, ended up coming on board with us and we called this Gardian insurance.”
The group continued to expand, creating Gardian Real Estate in 2012 and transitioning a financial planning business into the services offered at Mortgage Choice in 2013.
In this same year, Phillips bought into the business alongside his two brothers.
The challenge of expansion
Expanding from one company to a group has been both rewarding and challenging for Phillips; the team increasing from 14 to 50 staff members in the space of just eight years.
“One of the hardest things I think is just keeping on top of everything that’s required throughout the facets of all the businesses.”
“That’s where it’s great to have people involved that can run the separate side of the businesses.”
Phillips looks after the day to day running of Mortgage Choice while his brother Luke takes care of Gardian Insurance. His other brother Peter oversees the entire group of companies.
He says they come together once a week for a meeting to discuss any issues that need to be resolved.
An unexpected source of cash
Phillips recalls a funny moment he had when lining up finance for a rural lifestyle property worth $1.3m.
The client was being gifted $200,000 by his brother for the purchase and Phillips asked him to provide a stat dec as part of the application.
A day or two later he received a message from the client saying his brother was having trouble finding someone to sign it.
As it turned out, the brother was living in Colombia at the time.
While receiving a sum of $200,000 cash from a relative in Colombia sounded like the sort of thing that may be challenging to explain to a bank, the brother ended up getting it signed at the Australian Consulate and the finance went ahead.
“It was all legitimate.”
“But Colombia just threw me and I thought, this will be interesting.”
Brokers are essential
With the Royal Commission causing uncertainty about the future of the industry for some time, Phillips says the current situation is proof that brokers are indispensable.
“The world definitely needs brokers.”
“What mortgage broking has brought to Australia and for every person out there is the opportunity to sit down with a professional and have an assortment of different banks they can choose a product from.”
“We give clients the opportunity to get a fair deal and I think it’s going to be around for a long time.”
His business has experienced a record number of interviews and submissions throughout the pandemic because people are finding it more difficult to arrange finance through their local banks.
“The main thing we’re getting is that we’re calling back within the same day, we’re booking the client in within a day.”
“We’ve been able to communicate – whereas it seems a lot of banks are really struggling with that personal approach in relation to seeing someone.”