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Get the latest news and tips about mortgage finance and the property market. Scott Miller, mortgage broker from Advanced Mortgage Solutions comments on housing and lending.

Interviewed by 'The Mortgage Magazine'

Published by Scott Miller on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in

How did you get started?

How did working in the industry come about?


I was a property investor freshly back from spending 12 years in the UK. I didn’t really want to go back to the type of employment I was doing when I left New Zealand so I started looking around at my options. I spent about a year looking around before settling on joining a relatively new mortgage broking company called Investor Finance. They were new to New Zealand after establishing themselves in Australia and promoted the idea of getting into the company at the grass root level. Well let’s say things turned out a little different to how I imagined things would go.

How long have you been a broker? What were you before?


I have been a broker since November 2006. Other employment include - Hospitality Management, Sales Representative, Head of Logistical services.

Has it always been a passion?


I have always had an understanding of figures and a passion for property, so when the opportunity to become a mortgage broker became available I jumped at the chance.


Why mortgage broking?

What is it about broking you love/are passionate about?


Finding the solutions to people’s needs and requirements, it’s fair to say that no two applications are ever the same. First home buyers are always a challenge, however at the same time are often the most rewarding. In one regard first home buyers require the most ‘hand holding’ through the buying process, but the smile on their faces once the finance has been approved and they have confirmed and then purchased their first home is priceless. Seasoned investors are great to deal with as well because the loans they require generally have a degree of depth and difficulty that is not as evident with first home buyers, however you rarely get the same excitement factor from experienced property investors as often it is simply part and parcel of what they do for a living.


How did you learn the business and educate yourself?

Do you have a mentor?

I follow a number of big names in the mortgage broking industry, both in New Zealand and overseas, however I don’t have a personal mentor as such.

Was it self-teaching, did you study?

I was lucky in the fact when I first started to learn my craft I was part of a team of experience mortgage brokers. I was able to ask for their assistance and benefit from their experience. This not only helped me get my early applications across the line but allowed me to pick up valuable experience in a very short period of time.  I passed the ‘Mortgage Essentials’ exams with 98.5% which was the highest grade achieved by anyone sitting the exam up to that time. The study and passing of the exams necessary to become a mortgage broker must have worked as in my first year at Investor Finance I was rewarded by winning three awards, namely - Mortgage strategist of the year, highest number of settlements for the year, and  highest lead generation of the year.

Best and worst times in the business?


Both Answers to this question revolve around the GFC. The best times were within the first couple of years of becoming a broker. Times back then were good, property investment was the ‘thing’ to do, and there was plenty of business and most of it came to you – great times. Then when things began to turn, nobody really expected the downturn to be so dramatic. At the same time the first company I worked at and cut my teeth at left New Zealand shores to concentrate on their Australian arm. This meant starting my own business from scratch – new logos, stationery, website, office’s and all the other requirements for starting and running your own business. Work was harder to find and I found myself speaking at all sorts of seminars and meetings. I would sometimes find myself talking to a group of investors at a seminar in Auckland one day and doing the same in Queenstown later the same week. Times have changed again and being at the coal face of property finance I can confidently say we are now through the worst. Bigger deals are coming through on a regular basis, lenders policies have relaxed, and interest rates have remained low for an extended period of time.



Best and worst business moves you’ve made?


The best business move I made was going out on my own and starting Advanced Mortgage Solutions at a time when the mortgage broking market was being battered by the GFC. I learned a lot about myself, not the least of which was that I had the skills to survive during a time of turmoil. It was important to me that I could prove I did not need the assistance from an established company to operate in hard times.


The worst moves?

I haven’t really made any yet.

Best and worst advice you’ve received?

Best advice

Keep an up-to-date CRM and regularly contact your clients.

Worst advice  

When learning I was told to follow a script when talking to the clients in meetings and over the phone – this was the worst piece of advice I was given as the resulting conversation did not sound like me and it most certainly did not sound natural – Find your owe spiel and sound natural.

Biggest challenge now?

Regulation is bringing a lot of changes to the industry. Up skilling, particularly in the time frames allowed has been challenging. However there has been a positive side effect to regulation as it has been good in weeding out the part-time brokers, or people within related industries ‘having a go’ at completing a mortgage application as they now have to prove their competency within the new regulatory framework set out by the Commerce Commission.


Would you do it all again?


Absolutely, despite the hard times I still loving mortgage broking.


Best business book?

It’s not really a business book, but more relates to money and how money works. ‘ The richest man in Babylon’ by George Samuel Clason is entertaining and the principles are sound.

Is there a typical working day?


I spend most of my days completing tasks in the following order - Answering emails, submitting applications, and meeting existing and new clients wishing to apply for finance. I find the hours in a day can whip past if don’t have some structure.

Top tip?


Keep your CRM up to date and work the hell out of it. Join social networking groups like Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Who is the individual that has most inspired you in business?

Richard Branson – his life, books, and achievements are inspiring.

What is your biggest long-term business goal?


To grow AMS into a bigger brand that operates throughout of the main centers in New Zealand. I am pleased to say that this plan is already gathering momentum with a new mortgage broker about to start at the Christchurch office and I have had an expression of interest from a broker in Auckland who is looking at operating under the AMS business model.

How are you preparing for regulation of financial advisers this year and how will this affect your business?

As I mentioned above regulation has brought its own challenges. I have my final exams to sit in March which will bring me up to the standard required by the new regulations. I think that one of the biggest challenges moving forward will be finding and recruiting brokers who have met and attained the required regulatory standard. Of course people looking to becoming a mortgage broker will find it a lot tougher because of regulation than it was even a year ago.


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