The Long Road / Article

Long Road - Tales of Regional Brokers - Deb Purvis

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To an outsider, Deb Purvis sounds like she has the best job in the world.

Based in the beautiful Yorke Peninsula South Australia, Deb is a commercial broker focusing primarily on agriculture finance and assisting the many world class wineries that populate the state.

But for Deb, it’s not what her clients can do for her, but what she can do for her clients.

Priding herself on a high level of customer service, Deb has been a godsend for her agricultural partners in some cases facilitating savings worth tens of thousands of dollars per year.

For Deb, having grown up on a farm in the country, commercial broking in South Australia is a labour of love.

And with results like that, it’s safe to say her clients feel the same way about her.

MFAA: Tell us about your work and your current focus.

Deb: I am a 100% commercial broker. I specialise in agriculture, wineries, and vineyards. That is my niche market. I am based in the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, but I have clients all over the state, so I spend a fair bit of time travelling around to see them.

MFAA: Let me get this straight. Your work involves regular day trips to South Australian wineries. How did you get so lucky?

Deb: It sure does, and it’s a part of my work that I really enjoy. I grew up on a farm, worked as a rural financial counsellor for many years, and my husband is a career farm manager, so I have a long history with agriculture. I guess the winery side of it comes from growing up in the Clare Valley and having a lot of exposure to that industry. I work with clients in the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Clare Valley so I get to visit some stunning parts of South Australia.

MFAA: How would you say your work differs mainly from the city brokers and what do you enjoy most about that difference?

Deb: Agriculture is a specialised industry, so it has many unique characteristics that make it different from your average commercial lending. My road trips around SA and meeting innovative and successful farmers are what I enjoy most about being a regional broker. I am passionate about agriculture and finance, and I am currently lucky enough to work in both of these industries.

MFAA: How has the past year been for you, and what are the opportunities you are seeing as we re-emerge from the pandemic?

Deb: Initially, with agriculture, COVID-19 did not really have an impact. Obviously, there was nervousness. As time’s gone on, changes in the China market have been disruptive to some commodity markets, so clients who have been affected are watching them closely as they make future decisions. For example wineries have focused more on the domestic market as the export market and international tourism fell away. I have been involved in quite a few cellar door and function centre upgrades. Farmers are an adaptable bunch. Many of my clients even learnt how to use Zoom, which really helped me stay in contact with them.

MFAA: In terms of your offering, where is it that you really stand out?

Deb: I pride myself on my deep knowledge of agriculture and viticulture and my follow-up and ongoing support for my clients. Agriculture is ever-changing, and it doesn’t take much for a business to be disrupted. I’m conscious of that so as a broker I’m on the front foot. For instance if it hasn’t rained, and a farm’s income decreases, then there might be some need to review their finance structures. I speak to all of my clients at least quarterly, whether it’s a visit or a phone call, so I feel that’s my point of difference.

MFAA: What are your plans for this year and the future?

Deb: Continue to work in agriculture, the viticulture and winery space. It is a specialised industry that I have many years experience in, so I want to capitalise on that and continue to support farmers with their finance needs. Since I started my own business four years ago, I have achieved great results for clients. Sometimes, the savings are in the tens of thousands of dollars a year in interest. My clients see the benefits of having somebody in their corner when it comes to finance, and I’m enjoying being that person.

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