How this broker created a successful succession plan for his business

With many mortgage brokers being local business owners, they face an age-old challenge of finding a trusted pair of hands to take over the business they have been building.

Brokers have built strong and lasting customer relationships, have built their brand and have grown their loan book over time.

Some may decide to leave the legacy they have built in the hands of their children, some franchisees make the decision to sell their franchise to buyers and others create a succession plan that involves partnering with a fellow broker.

One such broker who found himself in this position was Brad Anderson, owner of Mortgage Choice in Dee Why who has created a partnership that will ensure his legacy and his customers are protected into the future.

Anderson has owned and operated the franchise since August 1999, and prior to that had spent over a decade working in publishing.

“I had owned the business for 15 years and felt like I had reached a crossroads,” he said. “I was considering two options - start to slow down, or hire a younger, energetic loan-writer to lead the business into its next chapter.”

The partnership journey

Anderson shared his long-term plan with the state manager at Mortgage Choice who suggested he meet promising loan writer James Algar, who was working at a nearby franchise.

“James absolutely satisfied the criteria for the second option. In fact, he has reinvigorated the business and we are writing more loans than ever,” Anderson said.

Anderson had worked as the only loan writer in the business since he started and in 2014 settled roughly $30million in loans. When Algar came on board, they settled almost $50m and last year settled almost $100m.

“I laugh when I look back and think that I wanted to slow down because the truth is, the business is flourishing,” Anderson said.

Algar, who hails from Bedfordshire, England, said they did not rush the decision to partner up. They worked six feet from each other for months while they learnt how each worked and developed a level of trust.

“I think it’s really important to say that we didn’t jump in headfirst without knowing what we were both getting in to,” Algar said. “We openly discussed what our goals were for the business and it was clear that Brad was looking for a successor to take his place once he retired. There was a lot of planning, so we knew what our vision for the business would be moving forward.

“The plan was key to the process as it meant that our expectations were determined from the outset and we both knew what we were working towards. Two years after I joined the business, we formalised our partnership and now co-own Mortgage Choice Dee Why.”

Advice to brokers

While this journey worked out well for Anderson and Algar, the pair warn other brokers not to go in blind. As they did, it is important to spend time working together so you are both confident working with each other.

“Get to know each other on a personal and professional level. While your staff member might have the experience and skill set you’re looking for, it’s equally important that you are like minded and have a similar work ethic. After all, you are spending the better part of your day with them so it’s better not to rush into things,” Anderson said.

While they both play a similar role in the business, they each bring a different set of strengths.

Anderson said that Algar is process-driven and exceptionally good from an IT perspective.

“He had a substantial amount of exposure to complex loan applications when he worked in the UK, which has allowed him to attract a new set of customers to the business. I’ve worked in this industry for 20 years and James is the best broker I’ve seen in my time,” Anderson added.

Algar in turn praised Anderson’s organisation, saying, “He puts me to shame.”

“Ultimately, we are totally aligned in our morals and priorities in terms of looking after our clients. Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing that neither of us would feel comfortable giving a customer more than a certain level of debt, regardless of whether they qualified for the loan,” Algar added.