How the lockdown has affected the recruitment of staff

With a career spanning 17 years, Ted Ongarezos has been there through all the ups and downs of the industry – but only recently has he experienced the biggest challenge of his career. MPA spoke with the Melbourne broker about the effects of the stage four lockdown on the recruitment process as well as his favourite lending scenarios.

An introduction to mortgage broking

Originally working in superannuation from his home town of Perth, Ongarezos went on to work in the UK for a couple of years before returning down under. A Melbourne friend introduced him to the world of mortgage broking and he never looked back.

About seven or eight years later he started RateOne with Adam Nelson and Martin Fedmowski; the three becoming directors of the business, which now comprises 30 brokers and 10 financial planners.

The challenge of the pandemic

Thanks to a strong customer-care focus, Ongarezos says he hasn’t had many challenges in his time as a broker.

“I find that if you look after your clients and you do care about them, they tend to come back and refer you. So, there hasn’t been too many challenges in terms of new business.”

One thing that has been difficult, though, is recruiting and training new staff remotely.

“Right now, we’re flat out and need new people.”

“It’s hard to get someone on board to learn all your processes and try to teach them remotely – I’m finding it a real challenge.”

He says, on the client side of things, meeting via Zoom or Google Hangouts has actually increased efficiencies. But, when it comes to taking on support staff, the process has not been so straightforward.

Getting your mindset on track

While working from home with three kids under the age of six and two dogs would be a trying experience for most, Ongarezos is taking it in his stride.

“What’s been hard is getting used to a new routine. You do get interruptions but you make up your time in travelling so you get it back.”

“It’s getting the mindset on track when the routine is all in the air.”

He says his favourite loan scenarios are the ones where the customer really appreciates it, such as first home buyers making their foray into the market or borrowers who have been knocked back by previous lenders.

“If you know your niches, you can fit it elsewhere. They’re the ones I find that are most satisfying.”