2 1ST STREET HOME LOANS
Rather than sitting on their laurels, Jeremy Fisher and his award-winning team are taking full advantage of recent upheavals in the market
The 1st Street Home Loans team are the definition of industry royalty, with multiple AMAs and Top 100 accolades, but they’re not above changes in lending. There was a “complete shift” in investor lending in 2015–16, observes director Jeremy Fisher. “The whole proposition of what a mortgage broker does has been heightened further in terms of the benefits to the consumer because of these changes; it’s like a minefield now for a consumer to work out what rate and product they’re going to get.” 1st Street has been taking on additional brokers, both in Sydney and interstate, to keep up with the level of demand.
While there’s more work out there, 1st Street’s brokers have to work hard to keep up with the sheer volume of lending changes. They’ve adopted a surprisingly low-tech solution: a large whiteboard in the middle of the office, where the latest lender policies are detailed. They also have a team email, and if brokers notice any changes, these get communicated to the entire team, explains Fisher.
“We have a very open communication structure, so if one person knows it, everyone knows it. That’s how we’ve always wanted to be; we’ve just developed it a bit further now.”
The key point here, notes Fisher, is that clients are coming back to 1st Street with their uncertainty and questions, rather than going elsewhere. The brokerage’s biggest focus has always been on the retention of customers, he explains, and it has invested accordingly. “We’ve got a marketing and PR person who works here two days a week who works purely on the retention side of the business, staying front of mind with clients.”
Having a staff member focused purely on retention is quite a departure for 1st Street, which has a highly minimalist structure. It has one staff member to assist brokers, as well as an office manager.
“We run a very different model compared to others out there, where one broker has three support staff,” says Fisher. “The brokers here start and finish the process with the client and are across the deal the entire way.” Having few support staff is not a costcutting measure, Fisher insists, but a way of ensuring the broker gets maximum time to develop a good relationship with a client.
In addition to Fisher himself, 1st Street has a number of other big-name brokers and award winners, including Mardee Thomas.
While wanting to encourage a team atmosphere, and a level of trust, Fisher also wants his individual brokers to flourish. “I’m a big advocate for wanting the brokers here to get as much exposure as they can in the local market they work in. It’s the broker that has the brand, not 1st Street or any other organisation; it’s the broker the client is calling.”