Three years ago, Napoleon Finance was little more than a concept, but now, it comprises a team of five, headed by Top 100 Broker Sam Carrello.
According to Carrello, building the business has been one of his greatest career highlights, but it didn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
MPA spoke with the Perth broker about the ups and downs of starting a business and why COVID-19 presents plenty of opportunity for new brokers.
Becoming a broker meant he could assist clients better
Carrello began his finance career at Westpac while studying at university. Like so many who make the transition from banking to broking, Carrello felt limited in what he could offer to clients – many of whom looked good on paper but didn’t fit into the bank’s credit policy.
“Many things attracted me to broking, but the main reason was being able to truly assist clients,” he says.
“I was lucky enough to have a good colleague in Mike Morgan, who taught me a fair bit about credit policy, and at the end of each scenario he would always ask ‘If it was your money would you lend it to them?’
“That perspective put in me in good stead, as no two clients’ situations are the same and typically, there is a solution there for them – you just need to find it.”
The start of Napoleon
His first role as a broker was a salary-based position within a large group, which allowed him to “focus on writing loans rather than chasing leads”.
“My next role was commission only, so it was like running my own little business. Once I had some consistent settlement months and leads coming through, I decided the next natural step would be to set up Napoleon Finance.”
He soon hired his first staff member, client manager Roisin Brown.
Learning how to delegate was initially a challenge for Carrello because he was used to doing everything himself in his previous role. But he soon saw the benefits of having a good staff member at his side.
“By having someone I could trust with some of the tasks associated with broking, it enabled me to free up time and grow the business.
“Over the last three years we have grown to a team of five as our volumes have increased.
“I have a team that I can trust, with all of us pulling in the same direction and each member playing their role to ensure our clients have a positive experience.”
Being able to build a sustainable business has been a major highlight for Carrello, as has the amount of client referrals they have had over the last few years.
“The amount of self-generating business we get probably makes me proudest,” he explains.
“It means we are doing a good job and that our clients are happy and value what we do enough to recommend us to their friends and family.”
COVID-19 is a good training ground for new brokers
If he was starting out in today’s environment, Carrello says he would join an existing group first in order to leverage the skills and experience of established brokers – much as he did when he started at previous firm Resolve.
“Credit policy changes almost weekly and the ability to bounce ideas and scenarios off senior brokers is important.
“When I started at Resolve, I was lucky to have a great group of senior brokers around me – all with 7-10 years’ experience.
“It made things a lot easier to run scenarios pass those guys as they had seen it all before.”
He says the current lending environment is a good training ground with plenty of opportunity for new brokers.
“If it is challenging for brokers, imagine what it is like for a client trying to navigate the current lending environment.
“Clients need our help to ensure they receive a suitable loan and see past the cheapest interest rate or cashback promotions.
“If you are entering it now, you don’t know anything else, so this will set you in good stead once everything settles down.”