There have been many major influences in my life that have impacted both my personal and business life. The first significant experience began with my father, who was a successful volume builder. I spent my school holidays and weekends working in his office, watching him navigate the stresses of building and becoming a successful businessperson. My dad was an inspiration to me, not only because he was successful, but also because he enjoyed life and truly cared for people.
At 18, I went to Japan as an exchange student where, besides experiencing this amazing country, I had a lightbulb moment about business. It was a direct result of touring all of their showcase manufacturing businesses, including Sony, Mitsubishi, Sanyo and the like. Generally, on these visits, we would stand on a high viewing platform and look down at all of the workers in the factory. At one of these factories, the workers were running and working so quickly, almost as if they were in an Olympic running race. I remember stating to our tour guide, "Why are these workers running and working so hard?" His response was, "Actually, they are on profit share." This image has never left me.
After secondary school, I became a teacher. The school I was allocated to had two cohorts of children: one that was well-cared for and upper to middle class, and another that was extremely disadvantaged. I saw murder, incest, divorce, theft, shootings, poverty, and starvation. Many of these children went without dinner, and they would come to school starving, stealing other students' lunches, and digging through rubbish bins. It was there that I began to understand Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
My husband was a successful salesperson, selling taps, house and land packages, home loans, and doing small developments. I was having the time of my life, busy volunteering my time on committees, kindergarten, tennis clubs, school fairs, and looking after our five children. But everything changed when my husband became seriously ill. I had the children, a critically ill husband, no money, a huge capital gains tax bill, an outstanding accounting bill, 10 credit cards, one personal loan, cash outstanding on the house that we had just moved into, and outstanding private school fees. My SOP was not looking good. The advice I was given was to go to Centrelink, go to my accountant, and go to see a financial planner.
Centrelink were unable to help me because I was a director of a company and I had to produce my financials before they could assess our income and see if we were eligible for any Centrelink income. So I went to the accountant, he refused to finish my financials because, and I can still remember to this day, the amount I owed him was $300.
I went to see a financial planner, and all he did was advise me of how much money I needed to retire comfortably. My thoughts were, "Are you for real? I have a seriously ill husband, and yet you are continually bombarding me with life insurance and investment plans."
So the advice I was given was to no avail. I had truly experienced first-hand the results of having an unstable family through my teaching days and remember thinking, "Oh my God, my children will be like some of the unfortunate children I had taught." I thought we should move out of our house, move the children out of their private schools, and pay off all of our debt - although when I look back, I am not even sure if the sale of our house would have achieved that. I remember thinking there and then that I needed to take control. I need to stop volunteering for everyone else and to begin to work for our family.
I sold taps and house and land packages for my brother, who took over the family building business. I dealt with the council, gaining small subdivision planning approval for my brother's business (a truly challenging role). I also took over my husband's Aussie Home Loan files, although I had no idea what I was doing. I was determined, in fact driven, to learn and succeed. I literally worked day and night to the point that on one rare occasion, I took myself to the doctor, and he truly believed I was anorexic and decided that it would be a good idea to hospitalise me.
I ran out of that surgery and cried and cried. At this stage, I was truly a wreck and under 6 stone in weight; however, there was no way I could even think about going to the hospital. At this time, all of our bank accounts were overdrawn, and I had to go each week to the local branch and withdraw my cash so that I could feed the family. Most Fridays, the Bank Manager would decline my withdrawal, and so I used another credit card and so on. Each Friday, I had a meeting with the Bank Manager who, when I look back, did such an amazing job handling me. Despite my efforts, I was still not really getting ahead.
Until one day, out of the blue, my life changed. My husband's colleague, Walter Coslovich, who previously worked with my husband at Aussie Home Loans, approached him to see if he knew anyone who would like to sell home loans. My husband knew I loved numbers and the home loan business, and so he recommended that I meet with Walter. I quickly applied to be a mortgage broker with AFG. Unlike these days, I think it took two days to get me up and running. I gave up my career as a sales rep for the tapware company. I eventually finished all of the contracts and development approvals that I was assigned and solely focused on home loans. I wrote my first home loan in March 2000, and my broking career took off. I knew then that writing home loans was definitely in my DNA; this was something I dearly wanted to do.
I remember when I received my first lead, thinking about how I was going to do my first appointment. I knew I needed to be relevant, and I knew that I truly had to listen to the customers, and I knew I had to deliver something to my customers. Without a doubt, I truly knew how important finance and homeownership was for families. Using my educational background and knowledge, I created a mortgage broking process that helped every client understand how to make the most of their loan and to truly understand the repercussions of their actions. The response was unbelievable; the leads were gushing in, and soon, I couldn't cope with the demand. I began mentoring other brokers and created lessons and sessions, and the journey began around our dining room table. I began training other brokers.
In 2009, ASIC introduced basic educational training for Mortgage Brokers, and the minimum requirement for the Mortgage Broker was Cert IV. In 2010, I applied for an RTO, and after many, many hoops, I was approved to run an RTO that delivered Cert IV and the Diploma to the mortgage industry. I personally learned so much through this experience; however, I was very disillusioned with the outcomes these courses delivered. I believe and still today believe that these courses, due to Government Red Tape, are not fit for purpose and do not deliver Broker Ready Brokers to the market.
I sold this business in 2016 and was determined to create a business that was really relevant and truly fit for purpose. I wanted to deliver amazing brokers to the industry and this desire became the beginnings of Mr Mentor
Now, looking back, I'm proud of what I've achieved. I realise that every single experience good and bad has helped shape me as a person and a business person for the better. We remained in our family home, and the children remained in their private schools. I remember driving in the car and celebrating this milestone, crying tears of joy which was quite different tears as to when I ran out of the doctors surgery.
Today, I'm still in the mortgage broking industry, and I'm passionate about helping families make the most of their loans and achieve their financial goals. I am also now passionate about ensuring that we are collectively delivering Broker ready Brokers to the market.
Mr.Mentor have 5 fully approved mentoring programs, with 5 vested stakeholders who are (like the factory workers in Japan) working so hard and allowing Mr.Mentor to grow, thrive and improve. We are enrolling over 100 participants a year into our programs, we have 15 Certified Mentors who are always improving, changing, and innovating. Mr.Mentor, I believe, has now become a true bench mark for the mortgage broking industry.
On a personal level, my family has grown to include five amazing children, who now have their own partners and children. I couldn't be more proud of each and every one of them. They are my biggest achievement. However, not one of them has expressed an interest in being involved in any part of the Mortgage Broking Industry.
We own our home and have two credit cards that are paid monthly. We will always have a tax bill, but due to my like-minded vested stakeholders, I am confident that Mr. Mentor will continue to thrive without me.
Thank you for listening.