When Louisa Sanghera started broking, she told herself, and her husband, that she would just do a couple of mortgages a week for the mums at school to help with household bills. Next minute, the mums started talking, and through word of mouth, Louisa quickly found herself in high demand.
Now, the UK transplant services clients from the Central Coast down to Wollongong, across to Perth and up to Singapore and Hong Kong. Her secret, always going the extra mile, constant communication and updates, and chocolate.
With a fierce work ethic and desire to maximise all 24 hours of the day to get the job done, it’s no surprise that Louisa Sanghera of Zippy Financial has become a multi-award-winning broker with big plans for the future.
MFAA: Louisa, can you outline your professional history and how you came to start up Zippy Financial?
Louisa Sanghera of Zippy Financial (LS): I worked for NAB for 20 years in the UK as an operations manager, then had a 10-year gap where I moved to Australia, had kids, and then wanted to come back to work when my children were in school. We’d taken a mortgage for the first time in years when we moved to Sydney because of house prices, and the mortgage broker that did my mortgage suggested to me ‘why don’t you become a broker?’ I thought it seemed like a good idea at the time, because I thought I’d do a couple of mortgages a week and that will just help pay for things, and that’s all I intended to do. Then I did my first couple of mortgages for mums at school who kindly wanted to help me out and I sort of practiced on them and it just really took off from the school mums.
MFAA: From those humble beginnings what is your client mix like nowadays?
LS: We’ve got clients all over Australia and abroad - Singapore, Hong Kong, Perth, Adelaide. The majority of the business is Sydney, but I do drive and cover Newcastle to Wollongong, and it’s all through recommendation. I’m doing so much work on the Central Coast I can’t believe it. A lady just called me the other day and she said a colleague of hers in Gosford Hospital recommended me, and when she said my name another lady in the office said ‘that’s my mortgage broker'. It makes me smile because it’s just nice that happens so far from my original patch in North Sydney.
MFAA: That is incredible. How does that happen?
LS: I think it happens because I started off with just females, the mums from school, and because it’s females they do like to talk, they like to share. It’s really funny, when I got Broker of the Year I had people calling me up all the time saying ‘oh my friend says you’re Australian broker of the year’. It’s like my clients are bragging about their broker being Broker of the Year. That’s great for us because our clients are our biggest marketing tool.
MFAA: There is of course plenty of research that suggests the majority of domestic financial decision-making is done by women. Is that your experience?
LS: Absolutely, I would say it’s 98 per cent of the time with the clients we see it is the women that are the decisionmakers.
MFAA: How are you finding things in the market at the moment? What are the predominant trends for you?
LS: At the minute we are doing plenty of first home buyers, but we do have a lot of people doing significant upgrades who have decided to stay where they are because they don’t want to pay stamp duty, and do half a million dollar plus upgrades. Investors are also back now, which is interesting. The investors had really dropped off before COVID, but they are all back now because they think later this year and next year, they are going to get some bargains.
MFAA: You are a prolific award winner and many of your awards are for your customer service. What do you do that helps you stand out from the pack?
LS: A lot of brokers do work really long hours because you have to. We work seven days a week, not five days a week. I’ve got a client who emailed me at 10:30pm last Saturday night saying her existing broker had let her down desperately, her cooling off had a two-week extension already, and could I help. I spoke to her until 1am in the morning via email. Sunday I worked on the deal and did it - a very difficult low doc deal. The other broker was just taking it to regular banks, but it wasn’t a regular deal. I got her approved yesterday. She’s exchanging today.
We will do whatever it takes to get the deal done. If I have to stay up until 4am or 5am in the morning to get the deal done, I will, and the clients know that. We drive all over up until 11pm delivering documents, getting people to sign documents, interviewing people, and l'll make myself available all weekend. So we do work crazy hours but we build relationships. We don’t just shoot emails backwards and forwards to people. We send videos with messages, we get on Zoom, on the phone, text all the time. Our communication is one of the key to our successes. I always see the clients at least three times. I’m the business owner and they appreciate that.
But it’s more than that, we do other things along the way. One of my clients said to me last week that she desperately needed chocolate, so I had some chocolate delivered to her from the local petrol station. They actually delivered the chocolates to her house! We do silly things like that which people appreciate. All our clients get gifts - when they get conditionally approved, they get a candle, when they get unconditionally approved, they get Zippy branded balloons with champagne and chocolates. If we’re talking to clients, one I did recently I saw that he was a gin drinker, so we got him some gin. Another client said they desperately need a scanner, so we got them a scanner. We try and personalise things and we just go that little bit extra.
It is zippy by name, zippy by nature. A client named us zippy because our service was so fast. As I walked away she said "you need to be zippy financial" and I went "oh, I love it". So, we try and do a 24-hour turnaround on everything. At times like now we are at 48-hours, but we never go past 48 hours. We are super quick.
My husband all the times says, "and you were only going to do two mortgages a week". He comes into my office this morning and looks at my floor and says, ‘how many interviews have you got lined up?’ And I said ‘nine’. He said ‘that’s nine hours work’. And I said ‘yes?!’ He said, ‘what about your emails and your phone calls?’ I said ‘I’ll be going until midnight, I’m busy. NEXT!’
MFAA: What changes have you experienced during the past six months with COVID-19 and how have you responded to any challenges?
LS: I think the biggest challenge we’ve had is around living expenses, where we’re spending two, two and a half hours just on living expenses - really scrutinising every transaction. The issue is it’s going backwards and forwards with the client trying to nail down these living expenses and get explanations from them. They don’t like it. They find it very intrusive. We just had one the other day they were way out on their living expenses and gambling had come up. WE had to discuss gambling with this client and he actually wasn’t gambling, they just lived near the casino and they’d been eating out near the casino and it showed up as gambling.
So, you know the living expenses is a really big job now to get it right and present it right to the banks. We’re trying to do the job for the credit officers to save them a lot of work, and speed the applications up so they can get them approved. It’s a real challenge trying to get that information and keep your clients happy and not upset them to be honest.
MFAA: Louisa, if you could have one superpower to help you in your work, what would it be?
LS: To not have to sleep. It’s a waste of time sleeping. Life’s too short. I want 24 hours in the day.
MFAA: Final question, looking to the future, what are you most excited about? What have you got on the horizon?
LS: We’re going to be taking on some brokers in Brisbane and Melbourne next, so that’s a big move for me. That’s to help me with our clients in Brisbane and Melbourne, and I know we can get more business in those cities. Think big I always say.