People often talk about goals and plans but, more often than not, fail to see them through to fruition. You don’t have to talk to Sharryn Huggett very long until it becomes apparent that she’s a person who has set her mind to many such goals and realised them all with flying colours – and she has a shining portfolio of achievements in business and broking to prove it.
Huggett held senior banking roles before branching into broking, all while running wholesale and retail businesses parallel on the side. She ran the businesses with her husband while raising a family and training as a photographer, which would lead her to create a multiaward-winning photographic studio.
“I guess you’d say, ‘Where does photography work into finance?’” Huggett says. “Well, the long-term plan was that when you have photography and retail shops, you get to know the businesspeople; one portion of the photographic studio we had was weddings, and of course weddings have young people who want to buy homes.”
Armed with her background in finance and experience establishing and running businesses, Huggett delved into broking 18 years ago. Only in the last seven years has she sold some of her other businesses to focus on her brokerage, Canberra-based Huggett Enterprises.
Huggett Enterprises offers clients many different services, but the one Huggett enjoys most is the commercial loan. “Commercial loans are very different to residential loans. I find [commercial loans] extremely interesting because you might be financing a business, a development, cars or machinery. It is more time-consuming, but I think it’s very rewarding.”
She has found her brokerage has expanded with her commercial clients as they grow their own business, often needing financing for cars and homes alongside commercial property. Huggett argues that commercial lending is an important sector for brokers to consider, and she believes more people will seek out brokers for commercial lending in the future. “I think there’s going to be more and more commercial lending. Small business is encouraged more so there are people buying franchises or opening their own businesses.”
While Huggett enjoys the complexity of commercial loans, she also notes the importance of striking a balance of offerings within your business. “If, for instance, residential lending went quiet and people aren’t buying as many homes, you’ve got commercial lending still going – there’s a balance.”
She has worked with many clients longterm and still has many from the brokerage’s early days. “I have a great rapport with them. I touch base with them by giving them interest rate reports or newsletters or just doing reviews with them or a chat on the phone. I try and keep that relationship going. I love to get involved with the clients to see what they really want. I love to listen to them to make sure that whatever their goals are, I’m there with them.”
Huggett is also involved in the industry outside of her brokerage, and in the last few years, has been a guest of CBA’s Women in Commercial Broking summits in Sydney. She says it’s great to see more women joining the industry.
“I find it extremely interesting, and it’s great to speak to women brokers who have come in from all over Australia, to hear their stories and the way they run the business, as everyone runs it a little differently.”
FAST has been her aggregator for seven years, and she has been invited regularly to the FAST VIP conference and is a part of the FAST advisory council. “FAST is a great aggregator,” she says. “I think without a good aggregator, a broker can be a bit lost.”
For the love of broking
No matter what you’re bringing to the table, starting out as a broker is tough, and Huggett stresses that new brokers must focus as much on the business side as on the broking.
“They’ve got to learn how to run their business as well, and they’ve got to have patience in knowing they’re going to have to work hard to create their own client base. They’ve got to know that ahead of time if they don’t want to give up six months later – they’ve got to go in with their eyes open.”
She advises young brokers to tell themselves: “‘I can see where I’m going. I have to get there. I’ve got to set my goals. I know it’s going to be difficult, but I know it’s going to be very rewarding.’”
In her own case, “we did work seven days a week for 25 years, and you’ve got to have goals and dedication to do that,” Huggett adds.
Today, her business is split into 70% residential loans and 30% commercial plus SMSF, but she is looking to expand further into the commercial side. “I’d like to get to a balance of about 50/50 – 50% commercial, 50% residential, and probably getting to do more work with developers.”
The biggest reward in broking for Huggett is seeing her clients go forward and realise their goals, and being there to support them every step of the way.
“At this time in my life, I just want to enjoy my greatest passion, which is the brokerage – being able to be a part of that area is wonderful,” she says. “Brokers are taking over larger proportions of the lending areas, and our percentages are getting higher and higher. It’s a very exciting time, and I think brokers have so much to offer people.”