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1st Street Home Loans, Rose Bay, NSW

We’d all like to believe there’s a secret formula to broking – that, with the right information, you too could write more than $318m worth of loans in a single year; that’s $71.5m more than last year’s winner. But for MPA’s No. 1 Australian broker for 2015, Jeremy Fisher, there’s no secret at all: “If you’re doing something well, remain focused, remain consistent, and the results – at whatever level anyone wants to achieve – will get there.”

In his steady rise to the top, Fisher has practised what he preaches. He started broking in 2001 and has been a regular fixture in the upper echelons of the Top 100 Brokers, gradually increasing his settlement totals.

This year has seen him finally get to the top – albeit by just a $3m margin – and he insists it’s a culmination of years of progress: “I think the reality is that I haven’t changed. I’ve remained consistent over the years – same approach, same process, same customer focus.

“I think year-on-year obviously your book of clients, which is where all my clients come from, is growing. And I guess that’s why we’ve seen year-on-year growth in volume, because the book of clients is growing year-on-year.”

1st Street Home Loans, the brokerage Fisher founded and directs, has been ideally positioned to capitalise on Sydney’s booming property market and while it’s grown it remains relatively traditional in its approach. Customer referrals still make up 90% of business, Fisher explains: “It’s a very big part of our business; it always has been.” As 1st Street has grown beyond Fisher – and now has several award-winning brokers – relying on referrals has thrown up some challenges. Client-to-
client referrals are generally “quite personalised, so it’s hard to refer those clients on”, according to Fisher, although leads from referral partners are easier to pass on to other brokers.

Over the last 12–24 months, Fisher has tried to pass more leads on and demonstrate that 1st Street isn’t a one-man show: “I don’t want it to be Jeremy; I do want it to be seen as a business, and there’s nine or 10 other brokers who I want to be equally supported and can see the benefits of working here with their volumes growing as well. It’s exactly what I hoped for.”

When it comes to processing, 1st Street is perhaps unusual for a leading brokerage (and one of MPA’s Top 10 Independent Brokerages 2015). It has a very minimal support structure in place; brokers still do much of the compliance and client contact work. With 362 loans to his name, this is a challenge for Fisher, although technology has helped – “a lot of [the contact] is [through] email; we’ve got a CRM that will feed us information on a daily basis, whether it’s birthdays or fixed rates expiring”.

Looking forward to 2016, Fisher believes that “anything’s possible”, but there will still be clients for brokers. Although he relies on his client base for leads, Fisher believes they’re well set up for any possible downturn in the Sydney market. “We’ve always put a huge buffer on rates and we never accept what the banks are necessarily doing in terms of their rates or models.”

Ultimately for Fisher, patience is key: if he was starting 1st Street today, he’d adopt that same referral-centric strategy. “You see some smaller businesses that are bucking the trend and doing ridiculous numbers in their first year, but the majority of brokers that I know who are writing good volumes have been doing it for a while, and year-on-year their volumes are growing because their database is growing … it’s time in the game and being consistent and persistent, and that’s all I’ve done and there’s no secret behind it.”
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