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MFAA Prosper : Mortgage and Finance Brief 09
The 30-something owners of Victorian brokerage Loan Studio are making mortgage and finance an attractive proposition to Gen Y. Words Carla Grossetti F orget beige carpet, manila folders and grey office furniture. Think polished concrete floors, iPads, leather ottomans and funky signage made from recycled cardboard. Although the Loan Studio is the new kid on the block in Victoria, its contemporar y office space is the antithesis of the stark and serious interiors so often associated with the finance sector. In fact, the fake grass cutting a swathe through the open-plan area seems more ‘Miami in the 1970s’ than a staid space from which to discuss the mortgage market. But in terms of reflecting the fuss-free attitudes of its 30 -something founders, the business is right on-brand. So says Loan Studio director Colin Sheppard who has turned the old-fashioned brokering business model on its head in order to focus on a younger demographic. “Our business is unlike any other brokerage in the country for many reasons, but especially because we have a huge focus on Gen Y,” the 32 year old says. “Many of our systems and processes are tailored to sav v y young buyers and investors because so much of this market is unappreciated. “The way we engage our clients is different. A lot of the big banks are out there trying to capture the cream deals at the high end and ver y few people are trying to guide and advise young buyers how to get themselves into a position to build wealth.” The Loan Studio was founded by Sheppard and Sonia Rohlf, both former brokers at Choice Home Loans in Berw ick. Although Rohlf’s official title is Chief Operating Officer, Sheppard says the company is less concerned with “titles, corporate speak and jargon” and more interested in using a language that a younger audience can relate to. The approach seems to be paying off, with the brokerage celebrating some $100 million in applications since opening its doors in Januar y 2011. “Sonia and I started up the Loan Studio because we wanted to build a business that partners with a client not only for their first home, but for all their financial needs. We want to be viewed by our clients as trusted advisers and be the first people they think of when they consider buying a property, setting up their insurance or even getting a new car,” he says. As well as targeting first-home owners, Loan Studio specialises in land and construction finance, one-move changeover/relocation loans, investor/foreign investor purchases and advice on how to structure finance to minimise costs. The company is also planning to launch a mentoring program to encourage younger people to enter the industry. Sheppard says the company’s point of difference is not simply because it has a blog and a presence on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but because it understands precisely how to use them. “Finance is generally viewed as a boring topic. We are tr ying to inject a bit of life into it. You’ve got to make it accessible to people and use the media they relate to,” he says. “There are nine of us on the team and the average age is 30. We all own multiple properties so we understand what it takes to buy or build a house and have an investment portfolio, so we know how to hold our client’s hand during that process,” says Sheppard. He says the Loan Studio is not just interested in targeting the younger generation in the here and now, but wants to retain that clientele in the long term. “What we are doingis not a gimmick. We are not big fans of stuff y, bureaucratic approaches when it comes to being responsive to the needs of our clients. Our communications and documentation are supplemented by text and email, because that is our clients’ preferred method of communication,” he says. Mor tgage & Finance brief | 47 Business profile
Mortgage and Finance Brief 08
Mortgage and Finance Brief 10