At a time when trust in financial services is challenged, local small business owners, such as mortgage brokers, play a key role in fostering and maintaining trust in local communities across the country.
An engineer by profession, who cut his teeth in the mining industry before moving into sales, Paddy O’Sullivan of Mortgage Choice in Nowra has been helping residents of NSW’s South Coast realise their property ownership dreams since he purchased the franchise in April 2016.
Paddy bought an existing franchise with a customer database and has injected passion, and his unique personality, to bring a nationally recognised brand to life. Paddy’s authentic manner and ability to connect with people has allowed him to grow his franchise loan book by nearly $100 million in three years and settle $163 million in loans in the same period.
After living and working as an engineer for a decade in NSW’s Hunter Valley, Paddy and his wife Kate decided they wanted a sea change and moved their young family to the South Coast.
Paddy was ready for his next challenge and wanted to be his own boss. After some research, he discovered that the local Mortgage Choice franchise in Nowra was for sale and decided it was a great business opportunity. Paddy said, “I put together a business plan to purchase the franchise, which had been in operation for 18 years and had an existing customer database. This enabled me to start generating business from day one.
“In the early days, I would spend hours on the phone contacting customers in the database, letting them know that I was the new business owner and invited them to meet with me to discuss their home loan needs.
“The last job I had in the mining industry was a sales role, which involved a great deal of travelling and meeting new people. This role taught me the value of relationship building and helped me learn how to really put myself out there.”
Like any business owner, Paddy faced many challenges in his first 12 months of ownership. Paddy said, “growing the business whilst still maintaining a high level of customer service is not an easy task. I was new to the industry and had to juggle learning the ropes while taking on every bit of new business that came to me. The business was growing and I knew I needed help. My wife Kate was a godsend. She left her job to join me to oversee the business administration. Then, as the business grew, we hired staff to help manage the loan processing.”
Soon thereafter, the mortgage industry faced a wave of regulatory scrutiny and changes in lender policy severely impacted the way brokers could do business. Paddy looks back on this time and remembers, “I would be working on a customer’s home loan application and the whole thing would have to change halfway through. While it was overwhelming at times, learning to adapt to the constant change has helped me immensely, especially given how much the lending environment has changed in the last 12 months.”
“At this challenging time, when broker ethics and the value brokers delivered to Australian borrowers were called into question, it was important for me to block out the noise and focus on helping my existing customers and find ways to get more prospects through the door.”
Halfway through 2017, Paddy’s business had started gaining real momentum, his growing team were working out of a small office in Paddy’s home and he felt they had well and truly outgrown the space. With the help of his aggregator, Paddy and team moved into a branded shop front on Worrigee St in Nowra’s CBD.
Paddy’s positive outlook and determination have helped him grow his business 30% in the last 12 months and almost 60% since taking over the franchise. The business has now grown to include Paddy, Kate, a part-time loan writer and three admin staff/