How Hustwaite grew Aqua

After leaving the bank for a life of broking about 15 years ago, Daniel Hustwaite has gone on to pave a solid reputation within the industry; featuring in the Top 100 for the past six years running.

MPA spoke with the Eltham broker and principal of Aqua Financial Services about why he started the company and how his first broking role acted as both a catalyst and a barrier to Aqua’s growth.

A new career and a new model

Hustwaite became interested in broking after working at ANZ for five years.

“The last role I had I was actually the supervisor of a call centre that took mortgage broker enquiries.”

“It was through that role talking to brokers, listening to what they do and understanding how they work that I developed an interest in the mortgage broking industry.”

He left the bank and took up a salary plus commission role at a local brokerage.

While the firm brought in a lot of business, Hustwaite envisioned a slightly different referrer model that led him to start his own business in 2011.

“They had a really good model in how they worked with real estate agents but I felt that it wasn’t quite complete.”

“They built a really good relationship with the owners of the real estate companies, whereas we were really focused, not only on the owners of the company, but the individual agent themselves.”

“The agents that were going to be at the open for inspections and talking to the customers directly were really the ones that were going to be able to refer us business.”

Starting from scratch after eight years

Upon starting his own business, Hustwaite found himself in a very challenging situation. Having signed a restraint of trade, he couldn’t use the network of clients and referrers he had built up over the past eight years for the first 12 months of his business. He even had to refer clients who contacted him after finding out he had started his own company back to his previous employer.

“I was unable to talk to anyone I had met in the industry that I’d helped out with a home loan. So, it was effectively starting from absolutely zero.”

He overcame this by slowly building up his referral base. The first real estate agency he got on board gave him a desk within their office and he started working with their customers to generate leads.

“I started off by myself and slowly, slowly grew into the team that we are today.”

Looking after both client and referrer

He says nurturing referral sources and providing great customer service are both essential for success as a broker.

Surprised by the amount of times he hears about brokers taking several days to get back to accountants or conveyancers who refer new clients, Hustwaite always ensures he replies promptly to any lead sources that come his way.

“If I would receive a lead from a real estate agent even on a Sunday morning, I’d acknowledge that lead at least and say thanks for passing on my details.”

“Not only are we very prompt in actioning the leads that come through, we also are prompt in saying thank you to the person that’s referred us.

“In addition to that I think it’s the customer service that you provide to your clients.”

“Customer service used to be a lot harder to provide consistently compared to what it is today.”

“The enhancements of CRMs just make contacting customers a breeze.”

“You need to be working with your aggregator CRM system to make sure that you’re using it to its full capability in keeping up to date with your customers and keeping them in the loop with what’s happening with their applications.”