Daniel Di Conza and his team have combined a referral-centric model with careful hiring and an excellent work-life balance

Acceptance Finance is a brokerage that prides itself on hours worked – but not in the way you’d expect. In an industry with the maxim ‘Work hard, play hard’, and top brokers boasting of late nights at the office, the brokers of Acceptance Finance work a 40-hour week, nine to five, Monday to Friday. Nevertheless, this bunch of slackers (relatively speaking of course) wrote $277,992,961 worth of business last year. So how do they manage it? 

Understanding Acceptance’s attitude to working smart is key to understanding its success. “Our focus is work-life balance and a family-friendly environment; we don’t do weekends or nights,” explains CEO Daniel Di Conza. With a young family himself, he’s taken on like-minded people. “We’ve found we’ve attracted people who are family-orientated, professional; they want to work, but they want to have a life as well … I guess someone who wants to work 60 hours a week wouldn’t work here because they’d be very lonely for 20 of them.” 

Acceptance only hires very occasionally – perhaps one person a year – and doesn’t rush out to do so, Di Conza explains. “When we recruit we don’t usually go out looking for somebody; it’s when the right person comes along. If the right person arrives, we’ll find a role for them.” Potential team members then meet their would-be colleagues as well as their bosses. Careful hiring keeps turnover low, Di Conza believes. “We’re very careful with who we bring in, and that’s one of the reasons people stay,” he says.

Although the brokerage has a wide range of clients, these are entirely based on referrals from clients and from a network of accountants, financial planners and property groups. Dealing with other professionals, and setting clear expectations, helps Acceptance’s brokers go home at five, Di Conza notes. “There are not many accountants who do evening appointments. We’ve accustomed our network to expect us to work during professional hours.” 

When it comes to investor clients, changes to investor lending over the past 12 months have “certainly made it more difficult”, says Di Conza, but have also pushed clients towards brokers with a deeper understanding of lenders and policies. “It’s not a onesize-fits-all proposition any more. You’ve really got to do your research to get solutions for your clients; you spend more time on each transaction now.” 

Acceptance has a big team – as well as 12 brokers it has eight support staff – and Di Conza’s aim to is to build a team mentality. “Although we’ve got individual brokers here, they support each other like a team would. We encourage individual success, but what we’re really looking for as a group is business success, because that helps all of us. One superstar is not going to make a team.”