Last year should be declared as a year of reflection and resilience. Looking back, I found the biggest business lesson I’ve learned during a pandemic is that nothing in life is ever a straight line. But there is always a silver lining. Even during a post-pandemic world.
This year, I will be bringing in the positive learning that 'it’s not easy to lead through the chaos at this velocity of change'. When faced with challenges, it takes resilience to analyse, develop and implement strategies that will keep your business alive. It, also takes courage to stop doing what used to work in the past and adapt to change as we move into unchartered territory. And without question, it takes heart.
In this article, I share my reflections, learnings, opportunities and insights over the last year:
One of the things I’ve found during the pandemic is that my local community ties in regional areas have strengthened and continued to grow during this period.
More than ever, customers who are based out of capital cities appreciate both the opportunity to speak face-to-face with a broker, but they also value the online touchpoints that we now offer as part of our exceptional customer service.
In the current environment finance brokers now have limitless borders. More than ever we have the potential to grow our customer base, and even more now with access to specialist and non-bank lenders who can service the unique needs and wants of these customers.
Despite the geographical distance from capital cities, customers are proving to be incredibly loyal to the broker channel. They're looking for financial products that support their lifestyle, and their unique personality traits.
During the height of the pandemic and associated isolations and lockdowns we quickly discovered that by adopting digital technology and innovation our business was able to service customers, anywhere and anytime. The fact that a clients lives interstate is now irrelevant.
My business now operates beyond any borders and has grown exponentially to now have a national reach. Through online engagement my team and I have worked diligently to drive our borderless value proposition home to our prospects and customers.
This strategy also has resulted in a positive outcome for our customers and we hope other brokers across the nation would also be experiencing a 10-20% increase in their customer base.
As a broker and business owner, I foresee that our roles will become even broader. Day-in-day out, we’re wearing more hats than ever, because there are no longer such a thing as a vanilla loan.
I strongly believe that brokers are now in a unique position to be recognised as specialists and financial educators.Mhairi MacLeod
Last year, we saw our customers especially lean on our business for debt lending throughout the pandemic. This was partly due to their lack of confidence in the economy and changes to their career and lifestyle. This brought a positive change for my business.
We became problem-solvers for our customer and positioning them for future borrowings into 2022. In 2021 we also saw an increase in SME customers who needed personal lending over business lending. Due to the diversity of our loan offerings we were well equipped to provide.
Despite the pandemic, I’ve found that my specialist lending customers are the ones who’ve understood the strong value proposition of a specialist lending broker. One of the major changes during the last 2 years is that we have deepened and built our engagement with customers via ‘Zoom’ and ‘email’ communities. Like myself many are small business owners. They've become even stickier, are highly engaged, and appreciate the value of having a good specialist broker to look after their finance needs.
I’m also finding that financial scenarios (both personal and business lending) are typically more complex and outside of the box - and clients genuinely appreciate and acknowledge the amount of time, thought, and heavy lifting that we do to provide access to the finance they need.
More importantly, clients increasingly are in need support. They just want someone to hear their business story and a trusted sounding board for them. The most rewarding part of my job now is hearing my customers' stories and to watch their businesses grow or thrive despite a pandemic.
During the pandemic I’ve reached all-time-high career milestones. Last year, I was acknowledged and awarded on the international stage being named in MPA's 2021 Top 100 Global Brokers and Bankers. I’ve won three industry awards including Broker of the Year – Regional, Broker of the Year – Specialist Lending and Broker of the Year at the Australian Mortgage Awards. I couldn’t have been prouder.
Winning these awards have truly inspired me and my passion for the broking profession and expanding the influence of the Astute Ability Group.
What my team and I have found most rewarding for the business during the last two years has been the opportunity to double down and focus on ways to innovate and invigorate. It's given my business a pathway to be better connected, with the ability to also share insights and stories with my peers in the broking community.
The team and I are excited for what the next year will bring with a more resilient attitude and adapting to the ‘new normal’. I’m looking forward to seeing where this industry takes me next - from new business connections, growing my customer base, and working on even more community and industry projects.
Mhairi MacLeod is a multi-award-winning Business and Equipment Finance Broker with 23+ years’ industry experience. Offering an Australia-wide service, Mhairi arranges every type of finance imaginable, and she is renowned for negotiating difficult deals with lenders and making the impossible happen.
Recognised as an industry leader, Mhairi advocates, commentates, and guest speaks to and on behalf of the finance industry. Active in the community at large, Mhairi is passionate about improving the level of financial literacy for students and youth across Australia.
If you would like to speak with Mhairi she can be contacted on 0414 436 837 or you can send her an email.