Meet elite broker Maxine Farmer

AMA-winning broker shares her tips on time-saving, risk-taking and diversification in new series by MPA and Specialist Finance Group 

This article is sponsored by Specialist Finance Group 

Welcome to MPA and Specialist Finance Group’s (SFG) Elite Broker case study series, where top SFG brokers reveal their business tips.

This week we talk to Maxine Farmer, director at Maxon Finance in Perth.   Last year at SFG’s National Conference & Awards, Maxon Finance won the SFG 2017 Group Excellence Award.  Farmer also won the SFG 2017 WA Broker of the Year and the SFG 2017 National Broker of the Year.

MPA: How did Maxon Finance become the brokerage it is today?

Maxine Farmer: Maxon was created back in 2005 around the family dining table. What started as just myself, quickly grew to myself and my youngest daughter due to the volumes of new business I was receiving thanks to a solid referral source. Whilst the two of us coped extremely well with the volumes due to the way we work, we reached a point in 2009 where we had get more staff to comfortably meet the demands of the business. So I recruited my eldest daughter. 

Our processes is what sets us apart from the market as at the end of the day all brokers have access to the same loans and lenders so it comes down to the individuals, systems, processes and service provided as to how successful any broker will be. As a result of our processes we have been able to manage high volumes with minimal staff. We have continued to grow and are a team of five now. 
MPA: Which tasks in a broker’s day are best delegated, and which need to be handled personally?

MF: At Maxon the broker will personally handle all new client appointments, strategy planning and proposal follow up in conjunction with referral management. All other tasks from following up client info, application submissions, lender follow up, processing of approval notifications, doc sign ups and settlements. Being construction specialists we also follow up clients and builders throughout construction and process progress claims.
MPA: Have you looked to diversify your brokerage – and if so, why? 
MF: Maxon are residential lending specialists with vast experience in the first home buyer, investor and construction sectors. Diversification is something that we have considered and implemented in the form of insurance to date. 

We offer insurance to all our clients via ALI. We find for first home buyers it is a cover that appeals to them with a balanced level of cover for an affordable monthly premium. It is quick to set up and clients like that they are covered immediately, without any lengthy waiting periods should the need to claim arise. It is also peace of mind for Maxon knowing we are doing the best by our clients by protecting them from the worst happening as a result of unforeseen circumstances.

In 2016 Maxine Farmer won the Australian Mortgage Award for ALI Group Broker of the Year – Insurance.

MPA: How do you guide a brokerage through tough times, such as WA’s struggling housing market?  

MF: There is a lot of publication about the struggling housing market and tough times and negativity about the current market. Personally, I believe and know that if you have strong proven processes, stay focused and have reputable customer service you will find that even in the current market there is still business to be done. Whilst we certainly have felt a slight decline as many have, we are still writing good volumes of business with the bulk of the business coming from referrals. We have been very fortunate throughout the good and bad times to have strong loyal referral sources. 
MPA: What would you do differently as a new broker just starting out today?

MF: This is a difficult question to answer as in all honesty I wouldn’t want to be a broker starting out today. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love working with my family and we all are passionate about what we do and love coming to work every day. We wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. 

I was extremely fortunate to have my first days as a broker supported with a constant stream of new business from a solid referral source. If I had the same opportunity today as I did back then I would most certainly be a broker but I am aware opportunities like I have experienced are few and far between. Brokers today face immense competition with so many more brokers in the market than there were back when I started my company. 

Reflecting over the past 13 years if I were to pinpoint something I would do differently, it would be to not be afraid to take risks especially when it comes to growing my business. I have always been very measured and calculated in business and feel that especially during the boom times that some risks would have paid off.

Subscribe to MPA to meet more elite brokers over the coming months. You can read more about Specialist Finance Group here.

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