Holly Bundy is the hard-working mastermind behind successful mortgage brokerage Bundy Financial Services, based out of Essendon in Melbourne. She’s an incredibly impressive business owner who has scaled rapidly and learned a lot along the way. We chatted to her about how she’s built such a successful brokerage from the ground up.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
I was all geared towards a career in event management and wanted to be involved in running big events. All my work experience and university degree were geared towards event management, and I spent time working in hotels in Queensland and Vancouver once I graduated.
When I returned, I worked at the Stamford Hotel in Melbourne, however Australia is a bit isolated and doesn’t run the same sort of large corporate events as international cities that I was used to.
Around this time I was offered an opportunity to work as a lender at Commonwealth Bank. My mum Lorraine had worked for CBA for 45 years, including 25 years as a successful mobile lender. Even though I vowed I would never work for the banks I quickly found myself finding more positives with starting my career as a lending manager. One of Lorraine’s prior managers offered me the position and gave me the training necessary to become a lender. I will be eternally grateful, as this was a great opportunity to get the experience I needed to become a lender.
I spent a few years working for the big banks, and in 2013 decided I wanted to start my own business. Thinking about the next ten years, I needed career progression, and what better way than to become a broker? In some ways the banks were stuck with old processes and I saw an opportunity to make positive change which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was still working for the bank.
My business started off with just me and a laptop working from home. Six years later, I’ve now got an office with three staff, and we have just employed a fourth!
At first, I had very little knowledge on how to be a broker and I only had a loose business plan, but I just dove in. It grew quite quickly, and I hit some key milestones much faster than anticipated. After three to six months I brought someone on for three days per week in a work experience capacity, and that was really invaluable. But I didn’t have clear processes at this stage and we were just essentially fumbling our way through.
I was a good broker, but maybe not a great business owner at the beginning. It took me a while to get my head around the nuances of running a business, and I quickly realised that to grow so my clients could get the same level of customer service, I needed processes.
We’ve grown and evolved and now our staff have a very clear process to follow to meet service standards, and also from a compliance perspective.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Staffing has been the biggest one – finding the right people to help us grow. We’ve tried doing it in a whole lot of different ways – Seek, word of mouth etc. Getting this right is so crucial, because we need the right resources to help us grow. When we stumble, it’s always because we’re physically at capacity. So that’s been the greatest challenge yet – bringing really skilled people into the business.
It’s also about finding the right resources at the right time. Previously I was doing all the recruitment myself, but unsuccessfully. I don’t have the time anymore to bring someone in from scratch and train them up, or to have them not be the right resource.
2019 was also quite challenging with the change of policies and procedures. All the change put us on the backfoot with staffing and resources. It’s been a challenge meeting customers’ expectations, and as a small business owner, it’s all on me! If I’m not performing, the rest of my team isn’t performing. In the last 12 months I’ve really had to learn to delegate, and you need the right staff to be able to do that.
Why do you do what you do? What do you love about it?
It’s all about the customers. Yes, mortgage broking is about finance and it’s about home loans, but what we really do is relationships. How you form those relationships and make clients feel throughout the journey, for me, is what’s so special about working in this industry.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was sure I was going to go into event management! And I even trained up for it and worked in the field until I was about 25.
Interestingly, there is some crossover between event management and mortgage broking. As a broker, you work towards a settlement date, which is similar to working towards an event date. You have to follow processes, and there are things you need to tick off and do in a certain order. You need to have organisation and relationship building skills.
I’ve even found that working in hotels has directly fed into how I work as a broker and how I run my business. Hotels are quite strict on certain things and there’s a level of professionalism you need to have. You can’t wear nail polish, and uniform guidelines are very important. I’ve brought this level of professionalism and presentation into my business now. For example, we label our envelopes and never write on them by hand. All our documents are presented the same way and we have standard email templates.
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in the finance space?
1. Always put the customer at the front of what you do – This seems obvious, but it really isn’t. We can get caught up on the dollar value of a customer and treat smaller loans as less important. The trick to being successful (particularly important as you’re heading into the industry), is to treat all clients equally.
2. Never say no – Always give a client your time, even if you can’t help them right now.
3. Learn to delegate – Learning this is the only way to grow. Learn to be a good manager and delegate so you can grow and do more for your customers.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
Compliance is and will continue to be a huge focus. As business owners we will need to evolve and change how we demonstrate we are compliant and providing the best outcome to our clients.
There will continue to be a lot of apprehension about what changes are going to come in the next 12 months. It’s been a hard time and we’ve been unsure as to what our businesses will look like in the future. We can only keep moving forward with what we’re doing and do it well.
Platinum People Group help business owners and leaders find, qualify, attract and engage the best candidates in the market. In December 2019, PPG published a interview with Holly Bundy, sharing her insights and experiences.
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