Two Birds One Loan Co-Founders and Managing Directors Alissa Childs and Elouise Dooley are so in sync they finish each other’s sentences. But with six children aged under seven between them, they need to be.
The opportunity to run their own business on their own terms and with the flexibility to support their young families was their main motivation for getting into broking in 2018. Since then, they’ve built an award-winning business, grown their team to three staff and are re-writing the textbook on how to build a successful mortgage and finance broking business while also raising young families.
“The thought of having to commute into the city for work from Glenorie, leaving our kids in childcare five days a week and 10 hours a day, we knew wasn’t going to work for us,” Elouise said.
“Building our own business together was something that we have always wanted to do – we just had a bit of a brainstorm and realised this made so much sense. With broking we had flexibility, we had the ability to scale our income and we were ticking a personal goal of ours to create our own business together.”
“Having each other has been a critical part of our success because we have had each other’s back throughout this, and we’ve been able to rely on each other.”
While the flexibility was appealing, broking was the obvious choice for the pair because Alissa had been working in the finance industry since leaving high-school and was well established and connected while Elouise’s background in marketing gave them a solid foundation to springboard off.
And in the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, Alissa and Elouise recognised that it also takes a village to build a successful broking business, so they weren’t shy in seeking out the advice and insights of other brokers and small business owners as they grew and evolved their business.
“We regularly chat to other brokers, and we will take best practices from other brokers and adapt them into our business,” Alissa said.
“Nathan from Birdie Wealth (who has four kids of his own) was actually the one that taught us the importance of getting clients to book into your calendar and fit in with your time schedule as opposed to the other way around.”
That practice has been critical to making the business work as the pair set their days around school hours and don’t do ad hoc appointments and say their customers have never questioned it.
The opportunity to add value and guide people through one of the biggest financial decisions of their life is what appeals most to working in broking for the pair, but they also love the opportunity to solve complex financial transactions for clients.
“We tend to not get a lot of vanilla transactions so you really do feel like you can make a difference when you get someone who comes to you with an outside the square kind of transaction, who can’t just walk into the bank,” Alissa said.
Two Birds One Loan celebrates its fifth birthday in November and for Elouise and Alissa it is a great opportunity to reflect upon just how far they’ve both come.
“Five years is a really big deal to us because we can remember sitting in our lounge room in our active wear with our laptops and our babies at our feet and thinking where do we want to be in five years,” Elouise said.
“We really do feel though in the past couple of months that we really have found the sweet spot around work life balance and the team, and we feel that we achieved, what we wanted to achieve when we set out” Alissa added.
But their five-year anniversary hasn’t come without lots of hard work, many leaps of faith and many tough lessons learnt along the way.
“The first two years was really hard – but you just have to keep pushing through, which is hard because you are not really seeing a return for a long time,” Alissa said.
“Bringing on staff members was also another really big leap of faith for us, and we probably should have done that earlier – that’s the other thing – it’s really hard to let go of the control and I think we are still learning that” Elouise added.
So, what advice do they have for other working parents and new to industry brokers?
“You need to be organised, you need to outsource as much as you possibly can and you need to be strict with your time in the business and at home,” Elouise said.
“You also have to lean on your family and your friends when you need them and ask for help. Asking for help is a key thing – don’t try and do everything on your own,” Alissa added.
The one regret they both have, however, is not starting their broking business earlier.
“My advice is do it, sooner rather than later,” Alissa said.
“I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it until I had the kids, and I was forced to pivot my career into something with ultimate flexibility. If we can inspire women to make this leap in their 20’s – they will be flying by their mid 30’s. It is truly the best job in the world for a mother.”
Two Birds One Loan is a textbook case for bringing more female brokers into the mortgage and finance industry and the value that diverse brokers add for their customers.
“We get a lot of young families – that’s the type of client we attract but certain races only want to deal with a broker who understands their specific needs, their religion or might live in the area. We attract a certain type of clientele because of who we are, so every broker will find that,” Alissa said.
And as they approach their five-year anniversary in business, what do they believe has been Two Birds One Loan’s secret to success?
“Be genuine, and be good at what you do,” Alissa said.
“We are very thorough and customer service is at the heart of what we do. We aim to give every customer a genuinely market-leading experience.”
For Elouise, their business success has been no secret.
“We have worked really hard to get our business to where it is now, but we couldn’t have done it without the guidance and advice from other brokers, small business owners and our mentor Nancy Youssef,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it will help you grow and develop your business quicker.”
“We are very proud of what we have built, and we share our story openly in the hope inspire other women. It is possible to have a thriving successful career in balance with life as a mother. It is not always easy but the opportunities for women in our industry are there. It is very fulfilling to be able to have the best of both worlds,” Alissa concluded.
Champions of Diversity is brought to you by Teachers Mutual Bank Ltd and is part of MFAA's Opportunities for Women initiative. Find out more about the initiative and read the 2022 report.