GLEN BARNES’ story is the classic broking story. An unsung one-man band who after years of effort building good relationships finds all his chickens return to roost in the same year, getting him the recognition he’s long deserved. Yet in many ways Barnes’ story is even better than that: he’s broken the elite club that is the Top 10 Commercial Brokers wide open, writing an astonishing $168m over 100 loans and clinching the third spot.
Barnes and his brokerage, Barnes Finance, are based in Southeast Queensland and write commercial property loans, development finance, asset finance and also home loans. The 2015/16 financial year saw a number of longterm clients decide to act. “I’ve had some very large clients for a very long time, and they’ve all come together in a perfect storm where they’ve all wanted me to do something all over the previous 12 months,” Barnes says. While he wrote a relatively high number of loans, a couple were particularly large, one for $32m and another for $25m, including industrial subdivisions and CBD commercial office buildings.
Barnes met many of his clients at NAB, where he worked for 20 years until going into broking in 2006. Of course, keeping a client for a decade requires work from the broker. Barnes has a diarised calling program, usually contacting clients every month or three months, after a fair follow-up period. He also uses email, text and LinkedIn, sending over relevant information, articles and links. Brokers can’t get too comfortable with their clients, Barnes warns. “You’ve got to be on the front foot, and you’ve got to be calling all the time, because if you’re not calling, someone else is calling.”
This degree of client contact is made all the more astonishing given Barnes has zero support staff ; he is the only broker in this year’s Top 10 to do without. “I work extremely long hours,” says Barnes. “I’m running to keep up with everything all the time; I’m just very structured in my daily work.” It’s not an approach anyone can manage, he admits. “You have to have excellent time management skills, you’ve got to be able to block time out to process things, and you’ve got to have a bit of work-life balance.”
“You’ve got to be calling all the time, because if you’re not calling, someone else is calling”
Barnes also observes that his is not an approach that everyone would choose. He picks when he works – for example an early-morning stint before driving the kids to school – but ultimately “you’ve got to give up a bit of sleep and a bit of personal relaxation time”. Nevertheless, Barnes has no plans to take on anyone soon. “I have considered support staff but, to be honest, I like doing what I do the way I’ve done it; I’ve been successful at it.” With the deals and commissions rolling in, his approach is clearly working. “It’s reward for effort: if I make a lot of money, it all goes to me … I just don’t think they would do more than what I could do anyway; I just manage.”
Furthermore, his performance so far this financial year suggests more top results could be on the way, meaning his story will be more than a one-off.