What does it take to succeed in commercial finance?

What does it take to succeed in commercial finance?

Rising to the top in commercial mortgage broking boils down to passion, fostering long-term client relationships and using technology to drive efficiency, Simplicity Loans and Advisory says.

The brokerage specialises in commercial lending, working with leads coordinated through its referral partner, Marketplace Finance. Simplicity general manager Ryan Nelson (pictured above) described the commercial team as extremely passionate about what they do.

Five people from Simplicity were named top commercial brokers for 2023, as part of the MPA Best Commercial Mortgage Brokers in Australia report. They were managing director – SLA group Jean-Pierre Gortan, associate director Isabella Constantinou, associate director David Pruscino, commercial finance broker Anthony Arida and associate director Danny Alvarez.

“What we’ve aimed to do is hire people with a real passion for it, in the view that if you spend 85% of your time doing it, you’ve got to love it and have an interest in it,” Nelson said. Reflecting on the company’s success in commercial broking, Nelson said that its people were aligned to the type of jobs they enjoy working in.

Simplicity company values, which were developed by its people, are centred around the key themes of respect, integrity, customer centricity and a culture around “doing it together”, Nelson said. Brokers receive training and support and are able to draw on the collective experience of their team.

“As an example, we don’t let any of our people, whether they’re experienced or inexperienced, go and fight a deal by themselves,” Nelson said. “We allocate an overlay of credit and coaching and support to every deal that we give them, and so it’s all about doing it together.”

With a human resources background, Nelson spent almost 12 years in frontline banking and leadership roles at National Australia Bank before joining Simplicity just over two years ago.

Part of his role is to build skill sets among its people and manage distribution of commercial finance leads. Reflecting on the difference between working for a bank and brokerage, Nelson said that a brokerage was able to be nimble and concentrate on the client.

“The nature of the broking role is that the deal and the client is always at the centre of everything you do,” he said.

According to the latest MFAA IIS report, mortgage brokers wrote a record $17.2bn in commercial finance settlements over the six months to Sept. 30, 2022, while the number of brokers writing commercial loans increased to 6,118. Nelson said that Simplicity deals with a mix of bank, non-bank and private lending. In addition to loving what they do and receiving support and training, the team takes a long-term view of the client.

This optimises the experience for the client and means that they have an ongoing relationship with Simplicity, he said. “We don’t tend to have clients for one deal … we want to have repeats,” Nelson said.

Tech used to drive broker efficiency Simplicity’s view is that commercial broking is a “contact sport” – it’s dealing with clients and relationships, Nelson said.

However, investing in technology is important, as it can make a broker’s job easier, he said. Rather than automate its sales cycle, Simplicity automates the process to allow its people to be part of the sales cycle. As an example, a broker may feel busy at 30 deals. Tech would be focused on how to get them to 35 deals, then to 40 deals, without the broker feeling that their workload had increased.

While the default is always toward enhancing the back-end process, Simplicity considers the entire deal, he said. “Even from the sales cycle perspective, when our people get a deal, it’s how quickly and efficiently we can get that information to them and create that front end,” Nelson said. “All they have to do is receive the lead, invest time into reading and understanding the transaction and then they can get on the phone as opposed to collating and chasing information.”

Opportunities in commercial finance broking Nelson said that commercial broking is a newer field than residential lending, which he estimates that in some respects, is around three to five years ahead. Not all non-bank and private lending is through aggregators, therefore data on commercial lending is more difficult to capture, he said.

As the Australian market is becoming more advanced with non-bank solutions (e.g. Pepper Money and La Trobe Financial and private lenders), Nelson said there is a significant opportunity for brokers to pave a career in commercial finance.

For experienced commercial writers, there is significant value to be gained from dealing with clients long-term and finding a lending solution, he said.

“Having skills, connections and trust with providers in that network is an opportunity for us,” Nelson said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, being experts in that is crucial.”

Noting that female brokers represent 25.4% of all mortgage and finance brokers in the industry, Nelson said that Simplicity was actively looking at bringing more women on board into commercial broking roles.

“From our perspective, the empathy and the ability to connect in what a strong female candidate can bring to the role is second to none,” he said.

Commercial broking as distinct from residential mortgage broking provides a lot of variety, Nelson said. To put a decent paper together for a lender in any capacity means that there is a strong relationship built with the client.

“You get to learn about a range of different industries and how different things work…if you’re engaged and motivated by that, it‘s a great place to work.”

By Priscilla Dickinson MPA Magazine

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