NZ Adviser talks to Waikato-based mortgage adviser Katherine Kraakman from Priority Home Loans about developments within the adviser industry, the challenges and rewards of the job and his most memorable client experiences.
Kraakman was named a Top Adviser in our second annual Top Advisers Rankings 2018.
How do you think the mortgage broking industry has changed over the last two years?
Because of changes to LVR restrictions, RBNZ rules and the responsible lending code, I have seen a lot of banks tighten their reigns. Affordability, pressure testing and each bank’s criteria seems to be getting tougher – especially in the over 80% lending space.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Here at Priority Home Loans we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their financial goals and we enable them to do so. I love when I get an unconditional offer letter come through and can call the client to say “Congratulations - this is really happening.”
I love guiding my clients through the process. A lot of people think that the home buying process is stressful (especially the first home buyers) but it doesn’t need to be. I really like knowing that I am making the process simple for my clients.
What has been the secret to your professional success?
I think my honesty and integrity has helped. Whether I have a client with $1,000,000 worth of lending or I have a client with $100,000 worth of lending, I treat them the same. For me, it’s not about making as much money as I can – it’s about helping clients achieve their goals.
When I meet with my clients, I get to know them. I am driven and determined to make this happen for them.
What is the key to overcoming the challenges you face as a mortgage broker?
Persistence and communication. I have been in the industry for a while now so I have developed some really good relationships with multiple lenders. If I get a scenario that is a bit tricky or out of the box, I will call and talk the scenario through. I will exhaust all options before I tell a client no – even then I will tell them what they need to do so that next time we get a yes.
What is your best strategy for generating leads?
I make a strong effort to connect with my clients, and the majority of our business comes from repeat business and client referrals. If you do a good job with your clients, they are going to talk about you and recommend you.
I have built relationships with some amazing real estate agents. We run regular agent promotions, and our “prizes” are always something that we can connect with them more – I can honestly say that the agents in my network are my friends.
We have recently put a lot more effort into our social media and our website. In the past couple of months this has started generating a lot of website or Facebook leads. Social media is a powerful tool which we have just started utilising. I am excited to see where this goes.
What was your most memorable client experience this past year?
I had a client earlier this year, Linda. Her situation was very out of the box and didn’t meet most banks’ lending criteria. Linda is a single, self-employed mum and her determination to buy her first family home was incredible – which made us even more determined to make things happen for her.
After a while (and quite a few conversations with multiple lenders) we found a solution for her. When we got her unconditional offer letter it felt like such an achievement. Linda is now and exceptionally proud home owner and we are so thrilled that we could help make it happen for her.
What do you think of the impending changes in the regulatory landscape? How will this shape the future of the industry?
In all honesty, I don’t think that it will change anything in our office. We have nothing to hide and we do everything by the book. Regulation changes will clean up the industry and will hopefully take away the “all mortgage brokers are dodgy” stigma.
We are resilient, and we will adapt to whatever changes come into play.
Outside of being a broker, what are your favourite hobbies?
Family is incredibly important to me. I have a son and two daughters, and I love spending time with them and my two dogs.
I am a huge advocate for taking care of yourself. I see a personal trainer once a week and really enjoy exercising and looking after myself.
If you were the Prime Minister for a day, what would you do?
I would want to spend time in schools. Our young people have so much ahead of them, they are so optimistic and creative, which is incredibly easy to lose once you start working.
I would want to talk to them about pursuing their dreams, taking a leap of faith and never settling. I would want to talk about my experiences and how I managed to build a successful business by doing something that I love – and they can too.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone starting a career as a mortgage broker, what would that be?
Don’t be afraid to ask. There is so much to take on board when you are just starting out. If you have a scenario that doesn’t meet the banks cookie cutter lending criteria just call one of the lenders and ask. Talk them through the scenario and find out how you can make it work.
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