Like father, like son

By Nick Gardner

Scott Marshall has mortgage broking in his veins. His father, Steve, set up The Loan Arranger group in South Australia in 1996, and it now has a loan book of around $1.3 billion under its belt.

But while his father may have given him some career direction, Marshall, who runs his own office in the centre of Adelaide, has made a spectacular go of it in his own right.

The 36-year-old father of two old is consistently ranked within the top 20 brokers in the country and completes around 40 deals every month.

The success has been hard won. He began as a sole trader in The Loan Arranger group in 2001, but, working with more experienced brokers, he was happy to pass on his leads in the early days so he could learn the ropes.

“I spent the first year or so going on appointments with the other guys so I could listen to what they were saying, how they’d tackle a variety of different scenarios and familiarise myself with as many different advisory situations as possible,” says Marshall.

“Basically I wanted to educate myself and become as knowledgeable as possible. I wanted to hone my skills. As a result, by the time I started doing business on my own I was very confident and was able to get off to a flying start.”

He then began building his client base by targeting referrers such as real estate agents, accountants and financial planners.

“It’s all about putting yourself out there, networking and building relationships with as many people of influence as possible” Marshall says. “I went out to meet mainly real estate businesses in the early years and that really paid off, but then I expanded out to accountants and IFAs which has been fantastic in more recent times for passing on business.”

He thinks the market is in a good place currently and thinks the scope for expansion will continue to improve as brokers prove their value.

“The structure of commission payments is getting back to where it was and remuneration is becoming more competitive as brokers increase their share of the market,” he says. “People like to get advice when buying because it removes on layer of stress from the whole process.”

As for how to take his business forwards, Marshall is going back to basics.

“Most of the business I get currently is from my existing client base who refer me to their friends or colleagues. That’s obviously fantastic because it means people think I’m doing a good job. But I hit capacity recently where I just didn’t have time to keep meeting clients, closing deals and networking with introducers. It’s a good problem to have, but it was limiting my growth.”

Marshall reveals he has a target to expand by 10% a year over the next two or three years. In order to help facilitate this growth, he recently increased his backup admin team to three staff.

“That’s given me the extra time I need to go back and develop even more relationships with professional referrers,” he says. “I’m getting as much as I can from my existing book so the way forwards is through more introducer arrangements like I did at the start.”

On putting clients first

Marshall is famed in the industry for his people skills and he advises anybody thinking of entering the business to make sure they’re a people person first and foremost.

“You need to be able to empathise with people in a variety of different situations. If they feel you understand their particular needs they will trust you and the whole process becomes much easier. They will also be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

“My experience has shown me that if you serve your clients right, if you turn deals around quickly, take the stress away as much as possible, and match or exceed expectations, then people will actually take pleasure in referring you to other people.”

Also, Marshall adds, you need to care about their situation and take satisfaction from helping people achieve their goals.

“Otherwise you won’t thrive in this career,” he warns. “If you don’t like hearing people talk about their problems or stressing about their financial situation then this probably isn’t the right job for you.”

As for his final piece of advice, Marshall recommends becoming as knowledgeable as possible and being prepared to put in the hard yards to get going.

“This is a job that will give you great rewards if you put a lot into it, but it requires hard work to be successful. Get out, be confident, keep errors to a minimum, turn deals around quickly and show genuine care and compassion with people and they will feel like they are in safe hands. Then you’ll find the referrals keep on coming.

Published on: 22 October 2014.

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