Centum Mortgage Group
South Melbourne, Vic
Aggregator: Vow Financial
Total value of residential loans FY2016/17: $162,296,228
Total number of residential loans FY2016/17: 282

Remaining in the Top 10 this year is a tribute not only to Jason Guo’s talents as a broker but also to his foresight. In January 2016 Guo made a major change to Centum Mortgage Group, tearing up the old ‘conveyor belt’ processing model and replacing it with a straight-through model, in which a single staff member handles applications from beginning to end. He also increased the paperwork his team demanded from clients as part of a general drive towards compliance.

Given the regulatory interventions that have occurred in the intervening two years, it’s clear that Guo saw the signs of what was to come. With other brokerages finding their efficiency compromised as they struggle to respond to new requirements, Centum’s has increased. “The employees have become more efficient, because they’re more familiar with the procedures and structure,” Guo says. His overall total has slipped only slightly from last year, and his average loan size has increased substantially.

“Because we’d changed the structure the year before, we’d already added more paperwork,” Guo explains. The brokerage has since hired an overall compliance manager and has its own processing note explaining additional details about the loan, paralleling the major banks’ drive for additional borrower details.

Guo cannot stop his investor clients reaching the ceiling on their residential borrowing capacities, but he can find them alternative strategies. One of these has been encouraging professional investors to consider investing in commercial property. “They’ve still got the money and want to invest it in the property market,” Guo explains. “They can use the rental income to assist their commercial borrowing capacity; they can get a rental return and they have the potential for a capital gain as well.” The brokerage’s volumes have subsequently increased on the commercial side, while keeping clients happy.

Given that in 2016 Guo was named one of MPA’s ‘Young Guns’, his rise has been astonishing: at 34 he’s the youngest broker in the Top 10. Guo is confident that Centum can continue to grow. “From the current forecasting on our business, we already have a 10% settlement increase each month,” he says, “so by the end of this year we’re looking at about a 15–20% increase for the business.”