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Overcoming the challenges

MFAA young Professionals

Bianca Patterson, Calculated Lending

Young Professionals Profile

Bianca Patterson is a successful young broker who has been working with the MFAA and Connective on this year’s Young Professionals Report. Bianca first embarked on her career as a mortgage broker in 2011 and quickly established herself as a rising star in WA by earning a place in The Adviser’s Young Broker of the Year ranking in 2013. Since then, she has continued to shine, winning at least one major industry award every year.

The Young Professionals Report outlines the challenges faced by new-to-industry brokers. We asked Bianca about her take on these challenges and how she overcame them.

What were you doing before you became a mortgage broker?

I have a degree in politics and law. Prior to becoming a broker, I worked in the property industry. I started broking without any banking or lending experience. I learned on the job and was very fortunate to have had some great mentors along the way.

Why did you become a broker?

I have always been interested in money and ways to create financial security. So, when I was exposed to the broking industry I knew I had found my calling!

I saw that working as a broker would be very fulfilling for me. I really enjoy the privilege of educating people about money and debt, so that it becomes a conduit to their success rather than a burden in their lives. And I really do love the freedom and opportunity this industry provides. I get paid to help people while having the flexibility to explore my passion for the financial literacy space.

Tell us about your path to broking. What were the challenges involved?

Like most new-to-industry brokers, my career path has been a roller coaster ride to success!

I have faced and overcome the standard challenges: building a client base, learning the technical detail of lending, managing the ever-changing lending environment, and earning trust and respect when I was not the ‘typical’ broker.

I have also faced some big challenges that aren’t always widely discussed in the industry. These include the continuous struggle for work/life balance, how to start again after burning-out, and how to find your identity and personal brand as a broker and business owner. Broking is just so much more than winning awards and settling the most loans!

The Young Professionals Report says that for brokers under 35, marketing and lead generation is the biggest challenge. How have you overcome this challenge?

I learnt very early on in my career that a referred client is a much stronger prospect and an easier conversion than a ‘cold lead’ generated from a marketing campaign. Many studies say that consumers no longer trust advertising. Instead they value word of mouth and evidence of a great customer experience.

So, I built my business and processes around giving outstanding service and advice. This has made my clients the biggest and loudest advocate of my brand.

Instead of investing in marketing and lead generation, I invested in myself – my education, personal brand and my business’ client engagement journey. I have found immense success with this strategy, in my business I now work with new clients only by referral.

Staying up to date with products and lender policies was the next biggest challenge flagged by the Young Professionals Report. Do you find this a challenge?

In the last few years, keeping up with lender policy changes has become extremely challenging! I see it as a huge barrier for new-to-industry brokers who are still trying to grasp the intricacies of lending.

Within my business, I keep a database of lender updates which are categorised by keywords. When I need to check policy, I search this database end then narrow down the options. From there I contact the lenders to confirm their current policy and that my interpretation of it is correct. (In the current lending environment, policies do change every day.)

To help me stay on top of things, I have taken care to develop relationships with a team of great Lender BDMs. They are always happy to take a call to clarify their policy, or to send a scenario off to credit when it is a little outside the box.

Do you find that time and workload management is a challenge?

I have always found workload management a challenge as in this job, there is no such thing as an average day, week or month. When you start getting busy and you try and juggle your active clients, it’s easy to stop doing the important things like making calls and building relationships. Throughout my career, my record settlement months have been followed by below average months. It’s all because I have not managed my workflow adequately and have neglected my pipeline.

It’s hard to learn to recognise when I need help and to not be afraid of asking for it. I have also learnt the importance of saying no when I have over committed. I would rather have 10 delighted clients that refer me to everyone they know, than 20 clients who were basically happy with the process but not particularly motivated to refer.

Do you have difficulty staying up-to-date with legal and compliance changes?

I am very involved in the industry, so feel confident that I have kept up to date with the recent legal and compliance changes. I also know that Connective are involved and in tune on all the topical issues, so I feel very confident with the updates and advice they provide their brokers and my business.  The Connective Compliance Team are also very helpful, I know I can go to them at any time for advice and support – so I feel I have this one covered.

Earning trust, respect and recognition can also be a challenge for Young Professionals. Do you have any tips for young brokers to overcome this?

When I started in the industry, I was a 26-year-old female with no banking or lending experience. I was the exact opposite of the industry’s ‘average’ broker – a 40+ year old male who had worked as a broker for some time or had come from a previous banking role.

In the beginning, I found it very difficult to sit in front of clients who were twice my age to teach them about money and lending. Looking back now, I can see that the challenges around earning trust and respect with clients was all in my mindset. I always had a genuine interest in the best outcome for my clients and they could see that as soon as they met me. It took me a while to see that the clients chose me for my authenticity, not my ability to process a loan.

Once I recognised that it changed everything.

I believe that all new-to-industry brokers need to invest in themselves to gain the confidence and experience they need. I spent the first two years of my career reading every book and article on lending, banking and broking I could find. I spent countless hours attending PD Days and events learning from other successful brokers in the industry, taking a little bit of each of their process that resonated with me until I had formed my own. I still invest heavily in my own education, as I know that if I am not continually learning and improving, I am falling behind.

To find out more about young professionals in our industry, access our summary of the Young Professionals Report here or the full report here.