Taking the time to get to know clients and asking the right questions to get a good understanding of their full financial picture, is one of the things that EK Mortgage founding Director Eric Dong credits with building a loyal customer base.

Eric estimates that approximately 95 per cent of his business now comes from customer referrals.

He says having a curiosity to ask the right questions and being focused on getting the best possible outcome for clients, is the key to his business success. He has a meticulous approach to detail which has only sharpened as lending conditions have tightened during COVID-19 and it is benefiting his customers.

“I try to be very patient for my client, I take the time to go through everything with my client – and know what they are doing and find out what’s their full financial picture – I still remember every client’s financial situation and that’s my secret,” he said.

“I take the time to fully understand them and see what is achievable for them and that’s why I get a lot of referrals.”

Brisbane-based EK Mortgage provides residential and commercial lending, asset finance, personal lending and general insurance services. Eric says the diversity of his product offering is one of the reasons why he gets a lot of repeat business from existing clients.

Often clients will approach him with a specific need in mind, but once he understands their full financial picture, Eric says he is able to offer them additional financial products that they may have not realised they could access. He believes that the true diversity of the mortgage and commercial finance industry is realised when brokers are able to unlock the diversity of client’s financial needs.

“We have already taken time to understand the customer’s whole picture of the financial situation. It is quite easy to introduce something else to the customer and also it is a win-win situation because the customer gets some benefit and we can also find new ways of growing revenue,” Eric said.

Eric came to Australia from Wuhan in the Hubei Province of China as a foreign student in early 2000 and his knack for numbers originally saw him study accounting.

But graduating from University in 2008, he hit the headwinds of the Global Financial Crisis and when employment was hard to find, he continued on with his studies, eventually completing both a Master of Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Financial Planning and Services. This path eventually led him into finance broking and his only regret is that he didn’t start in the industry sooner.

Eric considers himself one of the first generation of younger culturally diverse brokers working in the mortgage and finance industry and says that although speaking Chinese has given him an advantage in attracting clients from Chinese communities, his ability to build relationships of trust with customers, regardless of background, is critical to gaining new business, especially in the current environment where he is focusing his efforts on helping small businesses and low-doc loan clients secure funding.

“Initially what we saw was customers would return every two years but as the trust has grown the frequency of repeat business from clients has increased to in some cases every few months,” he said.

He also believes that being open to differences of perspectives and new ideas from his team which includes three brokers and one office administrative staff member, is critical to being able to navigate the disruption that COVID-19 has created in financial markets.

“Right now, we are still a small broking business – but case by case we try different things and try hard to have something for different client needs.”

That includes working with other brokers and looking at different platforms to bring business to market and ultimately building up a “one-stop” shop for his clients which is part of the legacy he wishes to create with his business.

Achieving that legacy will no doubt be driven by his demonstrated ability to embrace difference and build trust with his clients and his determination to find new opportunities that best support their financial needs.