The commercial brokerage market is known to be fast-paced. In such an evolving market, where success is often measured in flexibility and innovation, Simplicity Loans & Advisory, the winner of the Australian Broking Awards 2023, has emerged as one of the shining examples of triumph.
Founded in 2017 by former banker Jean Pierre-Gortan and his business partner Matthew Johnson, this Australian brokerage stands out in today’s financial industry. It has reached unprecedented heights by surpassing billions in loans within a mere six months.
Let’s look into the inspiring journey of Simplicity while exploring the growth and milestones that helped them succeed as we unfold the conversation of Gortan in the Elite Broker podcast.
The Beginnings of Entrepreneurial Journey
The story begins with a fateful decision made by Jean Pierre Gortan, a seasoned banker turned broker. In a candid conversation on the Elite Broker podcast, Gortan recalls the journey of Simplicity, saying:
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for us. So we basically started from a standing start, and now we feel like we’ve got that momentum in the reputation of the market.”
What started as a casual venture soon evolved into a passion as he found joy in brokering without the administrative baggage of traditional banking. Their journey began with the vision of redefining the commercial finance landscape. “I found a way to break into that,” says Gortan, reflecting on the decision to start their own venture.
The decision to build a business wasn’t solely driven by the entrepreneurial itch but by a desire to do things differently. Known for his risk tolerance and patience, he planned a brokerage that could blend with the elements he loved from banking but with an innovative approach. Thus, in 2017, Simplicity Loans & Advisory was born.
Surpassing Billions in Loans: The Journey of Growth
Within the first six years of its existence, Simplicity achieved a monumental feat, surpassing billions in lending. This has been a remarkable growth for them. One of the key factors that helped them achieve such tremendous success was their decision to venture into commercial brokerage. Gortan recalls, “They wanted to do a flavour of commercial and some assets, and so I was lured into it. Choosing the commercial path strategically positioned Simplicity to tap into a lucrative market, and their decision to align with a premier commercial aggregator proved instrumental.”
As part of the PCF group and later LMG, Simplicity also gained access to a significant market share and benefited from the mentorship and support of industry leaders. This journey from a small start-up to being a part of a larger group helped Simplicity in a way that they can adopt successful practices and fast-track their growth.
Recognition and Building a Winning Team
An important practice of Simplicity’s journey towards success is its rigorous process of building a team. Gortan highlights the importance of not just building a team but strategically growing the team. “When we opened the doors, there were six of us,” he shares. The decision to mirror the initial team’s structure aimed to avoid scalability challenges down the road.
Building a team comes with the mentality of fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation and continuous learning. Simplicity implemented a structured training program, ensuring that every staff member, from managers to associates and administrative staff, undergoes formalised training. They provide mentorship beyond training. Credit coaches are assigned to guide each manager through transactional strategies, risk management, and structuring deals. The leadership team, including Gortan, Johnson, and Ryan, makes regular visits to ensure a connection with the team.
The year 2023 marked a turning point for Simplicity as it gained ongoing recognition in the industry. Jean Pierre-Gortan received the prestigious Commercial Broker of the Year award at the Australian Broking Awards. It’s a testament to the impact they were making within a short span. The acknowledgement was not just a pat on the back but an affirmation that their approach, focused on innovative solutions and risk management, was making waves.
Streamlining Operations with a Tech-Driven Approach
In the competitive landscape of commercial brokerage, operational efficiency is paramount. Simplicity has a tech-driven approach to streamline its operations and enhance efficiency. Acknowledging the challenges of managing a growing pipeline, Gortan mentions, “If you were to start a commercial brokerage, you have to prepare yourself for quite a lot of pain at the beginning because the pipeline takes a long time to mature.”
To address this, Simplicity developed a robust internal system using a Salesforce CRM and a proprietary platform for workflow management. This platform streamlines transactions and encourages staff to manage a higher volume of deals efficiently. Gortan also talks about the system’s functionality by explaining how it incorporates data from other sources to speed up the transaction and feedback process.
Addressing The Challenges in Commercial Brokerage
As with any start-up, Simplicity faced its share of challenges. Gortan remembers their initial struggle of managing risks and compliances. He also mentioned that they spent a significant portion of their time to understand the complexities associated with these aspects. However, rather than giving up on the pressure, the team at Simplicity takes it as a challenge to overcome with their efforts and expertise in leasing and cash flow management.
Gortan also sheds light on a critical aspect of the brokerage business. It’s the challenge of finding consistency of service lenders. One big challenge in their business is making sure the people they work with in the banks are reliable. Gortan says it’s often more important to have a good relationship with a banker than with the bank itself. This is because a trusted banker can make the loan process smoother, and it’s like having a friend on the inside.
Apart from this, he also talks about the challenges of dealing with slow transactions. Getting loans approved nowadays takes a lot longer than before. Sometimes, what used to take a couple of months might now take several months or, at times, years. This is because banks don’t want to make risky loans. Simplicity is honest with clients about these delays, making sure everyone knows what to expect from the beginning.
One important rule for Simplicity is to be upfront about any potential problems with a loan. For example, if a client had financial troubles in the past, they don’t hide it. Instead, they talk about it early on so that if there’s an issue, it comes up early and doesn’t cause problems later. This honesty helps them build trust with their clients.
Another thing is running a brokerage business isn’t just about numbers; it’s also about the people working behind the scenes. Gortan highlights the struggle of finding and keeping good staff. In an industry where people often leave to start their own ventures, Simplicity focuses on creating a positive work environment. Training programs, supportive coaches and fair pay are part of their strategy to keep the team happy and motivated. He states, “The actual mentoring is someone who can sit next to you and kind of talk you through what they’ve lived and said. I think over my career, I probably would have seen 25,000 deals closed.”
Learning from Simplicity’s Story
Simplicity Loans & Advisory’s journey teaches us that success is not just about making a lot of money; it’s also about facing challenges and finding smart ways to overcome them. They proved that anyone can turn their small business dream into a successful reality. With a smart plan, a great team, and, of course, taking care of mental well-being, they’ve set a path for others to follow.
So, if you’re in need of a commercial loan and need some lending issue creatively solved, then Simplicity Commercial Loans is your go to provider. Reach out today.