Top 10 Independent Brokerages 2015 - 3 1ST STREET HOME LOANS

Contact Information
Established in 2003
Based in Sydney, NSW
Director: Jeremy Fisher

The past year at 1st Street Home Loans hasn’t been about change at all, explains director Jeremy Fisher; instead, it’s been about consistency. “It’s always been our motto – being consistent from a client perspective,” he says. The hard work has already been done, he adds. “A year or so ago, we did a few different internal workshops to streamline our processes. Everyone was doing similar things, [so] it was about taking the best from everyone and putting it in one place.”

It certainly helps that 1st Street’s head office is ideally positioned in Sydney’s property market, which has defied regulator jawboning and continues to grow. Their typical client hasn’t changed much, Fisher says. “It’s always been owner-occupiers and upgraders, but we still get investors.” Refinancing only makes up 20–30% of the brokerage’s business. “We don’t churn our book,” Fisher says.
“It’s not something that we do.”

Given 1st Street’s huge increase in annual settlements from last year, the Sydney market is clearly making a difference in a number of different ways. “Most clients are Sydney-based, looking to buy in Sydney,” Fisher says, “but
now we are seeing clients, from an affordability perspective, looking elsewhere.” That focus further afield isn’t an issue for the brokerage, he adds. “I’ve always been a believer that the client comes for the brand; they don’t come because of the location. They come for the relationship with that broker, and I don’t think that’s changed.”

For a 13-year-old business, 1st Street has relatively few back office staff – just one office manager and one supporting staff member in the Sydney office.
That’s a deliberate strategy, Fisher explains. “We’re very light on that side. Basically the philosophy has been that the brokers will manage the process from start to finish, and that really hasn’t changed.” Taking this approach means the broker will know exactly what’s going on at every stage in the application, improving communication with clients.

Whilst their client base has remained consistent, 1st Street have been proactively building their capability in non-mortgage services, offering financial planning and taking on a dedicated commercial broker and a dedicated SMSF expert. “I think there’s huge room for [these services] still to grow,” Fisher says. “We wanted to be in a position that when a client asks, we can say, ‘Yes, we offer it,’ rather than, ‘No, we’ll have to refer you.’ There’s still upside, there’s no question about it; we’re not experts in that space, and there’s still a lot to learn and a lot to grow.”