It was the draw of one family’s mortgage plan that propelled Blandon Leung to switch from working in insurance to becoming a full-time mortgage adviser. Today, he’s the proud partner and co-owner of iRefi Limited and one of New Zealand’s leading industry experts – as revealed in NZ Adviser’s 2019 Top Advisers Rankings.
“After I finished my degree in finance, and two years before we started iRefi, I was selling life insurance,” recalls Leung. “I was given very little formal training but had a great mentor who led by example. I easily worked 60-70 hours a week and made less than the benchmark for a full time graduate job. But it was easy to work hard as I’d seen my own parents do the same. They worked 13-14 hours a day, seven days a week when we first immigrated to New Zealand.”
One day, when Leung was sorting out insurance for a couple in their 30s – who were at the time earning a modest income – they asked him to handle the mortgage for their sixth investment property. Although he didn’t take them on as clients, Leung compared the family’s situation to his own.
“My mom and dad have worked very hard and saved as much as they could – I can’t say they’re poor but they’re in their late 50s and still have a mortgage to pay off with not much of a retirement plan on the cards.”
The difference in the two situations intrigued Leung and he examined why. It came down to the two families’ perception of debt and how they managed it. “Although I didn’t end up working on that couple’s mortgage, I instead found a mission – helping families like mine understand the differences in circumstances.”
Apart from his personal journey to understanding mortgage management, it’s Leung’s work ethic that has helped him establish a strong client base. When he talks to a potential client, he focuses on finding out what value he can provide.
“If they have a good deal and they are happy with the advice they are getting then I would rather find the next person I can help opposed to adding marginal value to try and get a commission,” Leung explains. “I think clients genuinely appreciate that and it’s validation when clients I turn away end up coming back 24 months later to buy a new property or refer their friends.”
When he’s not busy working, Leung enjoys playing the guitar, going for boxfit classes and ‘getting really competitive over board games with a few mates’.