Lessons learned from COVID-19

Like so many other brokers, Lee Rosenfeld had an eventful 2020. Not only did the owner of Innovative Home Loans have to quickly pivot to the new tech normal of COVID and the changing policies of banks, he then faced six of his busiest months on record while polishing off the financial year with a bang. Now he has shared with MPA his lessons learned from the pandemic and why customer relationships are more important than ever.

Rosenfeld started innovative Home Loans about three years ago after working as a mobile lender for ANZ since 2012. Last year he went on to rank 56 in the Top 100 of 2020, writing more than $87 million worth of residential loans in the financial year.

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He said 2020 was challenging in more ways than one. After adjusting to the first month with emotional clients who were worried they might lose their jobs, things went back to relative normality and loan activity remained strong. One challenge, however, proved to be the transition from face-to-face meetings to video call interaction with clients – but ultimately this also proved to be a boon to the processes of the business.

“As everyone got comfortable around the technology, it got easier and allowed us as mortgage brokers to write more business,” he said, explaining that the commute time needed for a face-to-face meeting in Sydney would often stretch to two hours.

Despite this benefit, a new challenge emerged – that of maintaining the same quality of relationship without the rapport that comes from a physical meeting.

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“If we were face to face our relationship would be automatically better long term because there’s a connection there,” he said. “So, it’s important to stay in touch and provide a really good service that trumps the whole relationship you’d have if you met the person.

“If you’re just a person on the phone, another broker is also just a person on the phone, and there is no loyalty for the client.”

Rosenfeld said the events of 2020 taught him and his team to make sure they understand their clients even better than before in order to be a trusted source of guidance and support. When his customers were first hit by the uncertainty of the pandemic, rather than call the bank about whether they needed to pause their repayments, they called Rosenfeld instead.

“They knew as a team we could help them through it and advise what they need to do,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who are going through emotional times, there’s other people who are not.

“We just want that relationship where they feel comfortable contacting us and we can guide them.”