Dig your clients
by Andrew Brown
Switzer Broker has teamed up with the Commonwealth Bank to highlight regional brokers, the challenges they face in their business and how they have achieved success. In part two of our Best of Brokers series, we hike out to Western Australia’s Pilbara region to discover a regional broker making it big. Belinda Bradshaw at North West Finance (Karratha) shares why keeping the client top of mind is crucial to success.
Knowing and understanding customers or clients is an important skill for brokers to have and Belinda Bradshaw, lending consultant at North West Finance (Karratha), certainly ticks this box.
Not only has she had experience with a major bank, but she also worked in mining, which comes as a benefit when doing business in Karratha, the mining hub of the Pilbara region.
Before moving to Karratha, Bradshaw spent seven years living in a now-closed Pilbara mining town called Shay Gap. At Shay Gap, Bradshaw ran the wet mess for three years, and drove a giant Haulpak dumper for four years. She then moved to Karratha where she began work as a personal lender with a major bank before joining North West Finance in 2007 when they opened an office in the mining town. The business also has offices in Perth and Broome.
Bill Knighton, who founded North West Finance in 2000, says due to Bradshaw’s unique background the business was able to offer the benefits of a brokerage operated by a well-known representative.
“Belinda has walked the walk with the miners and the bankers, so is a perfect fit as a broker,” he says. “I would be willing to bet that there wouldn't be too many brokers that have that blend available.”
Bradshaw recently won a national award from a major bank for submission quality, having also met conversion and volume metrics.
“The quarter of a century that she has lived in the Pilbara also stands her in pretty good stead as far as ‘being a local’ is concerned, and in a town that is full of fly in/fly out workers that is an important quality,” explains Knighton.
Bradshaw says her background has allowed her to understand her clients better.
“Having been a miner and a banker allows me to be more empathetic towards my clients, and to understand the issues that we often face from bankers,” she says. “Also, I’m a local so the environmental issues we have also affect me, so I can relate to clients on a very personal level.”
The major issues facing brokers at the moment, Bradshaw argues, are “bank policies”.
“By that I mean that banks make their overall policy decisions for major cities and have loan amount and LVR limitations on regional areas that affect us immensely. Some banks have never taken the time to visit the area, and the ones who do usually change their tune and policies and, as a result, gain business from us accordingly.”
Another issue facing regional brokers is being remote – “simple things like document postage can add a week onto loan turnaround times”.
However, there is great satisfaction in getting the deal to work.
“It is extremely satisfying for brokers in remote areas to get ‘that deal’ to work, to get around all the issues that seem so simple in capital cities, so I would say the number one opportunity for a broker in a remote area is increased job satisfaction,” says Bradshaw.
She says North West Finance’s company motto is ‘looking after people, not accounts’ and argues in practice, it works.
“People value the fact that we care and listen and take interest in them both personally and financially. Thus we can then get the best result for them financially by knowing the client.”
The best thing for Bradshaw about working in the industry is its flexibility.
“Being a mother of two boys and a working wife I need flexible working conditions and broking allows me to design my day around my needs.”
Bradshaw says she loves the work she does and knows her clients can see this.
“Assisting clients purchase that first home or even the third is still the most important thing in the world to them, so it has to be to us too,” she says. “Honesty and integrity and keeping clients informed during all steps of the process is key to having a successful relationship with our clients.”
View all profiles from the Best of Brokers series:
Published on: Friday, September 16, 2011blog comments powered by Disqus