Leadership lessons from top broker Daniel Di Conza

by Mariam Gabaji28 Feb 2020

The bumps and challenges of the past 17 odd years may have shaped Daniel Di Conza’s career, but the CEO of Acceptance Finance attributes three specific days to consolidating his position at the top.

“In 2006 I went to Boston for a training course taught by Nick Craig from the Core Leadership Institute. It’s probably those three days that have influenced my career, and more specifically my leadership abilities the most,” explains Di Conza, who was named in the 2019 Global 100 list in MPA, sister publication of NZ Adviser.

“The management techniques I was explained were very foreign to anything I’d experienced before. It was all centred around being honest with people and delivering messages in a way that would not insult or threaten them.”

Di Conza brought his learnings back with him, excited about applying what he’d learnt about authenticity to the business. In fact, he saw himself transforming and becoming a lot more accepting of constructive criticism.

He decided to put the executive team through a similar course in Australia. And then, every six months for the next couple of years, they extended their training until it became the norm to adopt this very style of leadership.

‘It’s not about making one person’s life easier’

Di Conza, who all but grew up with the mortgage industry, considers his management style to be firm but fair. He takes out time to hear everyone’s opinions, particularly those that are different from his own.

“I think my style is one of inclusion and approachability,” he explains. “It’s easy to make decisions that make one person’s life easier, but it might negatively affect someone else’s work. As a leader, you need to consider how one decision can help make an impact across the board.”

Today, Acceptance Finance is focused on allowing its brokers more flexibility around the way they go about their work. It is also working towards tailoring what it does for different individuals and their respective goals.

‘Stick to your core strengths’

The CEO doesn’t believe everyone has what it takes to be at the top. And, when it comes to the mortgage industry, he doesn’t think all great brokers can become great leaders.

“To anyone in or interested in the mortgage industry…I would tell them to stick to their core strengths, whatever that may be,” says Di Conza. “I was an okay broker, probably a good broker, but as time has passed, I’ve become a better leader. Acceptance Finance has brokers who are much better than what I used to be, but they don’t have the same ability to run a company.”

This is also why Di Conza believes it’s more important today than ever before for brokers to partner up with people who can complement their shortcomings.

Work-life balance

All work and no play doesn’t make anyone a better leader.  

When he’s not at the office, the father of three boys spends much of his time with the family playing sports.

“All of my boys are into multiple sports which is fantastic,” he says. “When I’m not chasing around the children, I go and play tennis and have also recently joined a basketball team. It’s a new game for me but that’s what makes it more challenging and exciting.”

Di Conza and his wife enjoy taking regular holidays with the kids to experience new place and cultures for a more well-rounded view of the world.

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