What does it take to step off the plane as a newly-arrived migrant in New Zealand and start a successful business?
Ajay Kumar of Global Finance arrived in New Zealand from India in 1999 with 23 years of banking experience under his belt, and he now runs a mortgage and insurance brokerage serving over 5000 clients. Kumar sat down with NZ Adviser to talk about the journey his business has taken over the last 19 years, and to share some of the secrets of his success.
“I’d been in the banking industry since 1976, and I decided to start up a business based on what I already knew,” says Kumar. “New Zealand and India are also both Commonwealth countries, so whilst the rules and regulations are quite different, they are also similar in many ways. But the main challenge as a newly arrived migrant starting a business is gaining trust.”
“Despite the mortgage broking market having grown exponentially across the US, UK and Australia, the industry in New Zealand at the time was fairly small,” Kumar explains. “New Zealand banks didn’t have as much trust in the broking sector, and they didn’t support brokers to such an extent as they do today. We had to gain the trust of the banks within this environment, and give them the confidence to deal with us.”
Kumar gained academic support from the government and went on to study New Zealand banking practices, laws and regulations. The next challenge was finding customers, and, according to Kumar, it all came down to the fail-proof method of doing a good job and relying on referrals.
“From day one, I tried to understand the needs of my customers and act in their best interests,” says Kumar. “Eventually, if a customer knows that you deliver on your promises and you’re in a position to understand and fulfil their needs, they start to trust you. This then leads to word of mouth referrals, which leads to more business.
“We have been the number one broker for Indian customers since 2012. We would like to ensure that we remain the biggest and the best adviser in the country, and we’d also like to expand demographically into other communities.”
The industry today is progressing rapidly and constantly increasing its market share, but it is also going through a noticeable period of change. Regarding the impending regulatory changes, Kumar says they will tighten up the standards within the industry and will ensure that the client’s best interests are always put first.
“I am very excited about the new coming environment and making sure that we meet the challenges that it presents,” he says. “But in the end, it won’t change our core value – to always put the interests of the customer first. Everything stems from the customer, and whatever we have achieved is entirely down to them.”
The industry must focus on increasing its market share, says adviser
Nursing and mortgage broking – more in common than you think