Broker Spotlight – Gretchen Clarke

Gretchen Clarke
How did you get into the mortgage broking industry?

By accident! I finished my Bachelor degree, started my Dip-Ed and decided that being a High School teacher was not for me.

So, in early 2002 I made the move from the South Coast to Sydney and got a job at a finance company as a receptionist.  At the time, they were one of the five or six Deposit Bond providers in the city.

I got a job offer from a lovely man, Richard Lane. We got along great on the phone and he had just started up a Deposit Bond broking arm of a little boutique finance company, Vision Home Loans.

There really was no job going (we just got along well) and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to work for them but I went along to meet up with Richard and Dave Lennox.  In that meeting Dave famously asked “so you have applied for a job that doesn’t exist and you don’t know if you want it?”  I said “yes that’s right”  Dave said “then you are hired!”

I started the very next week on the 11th June 2002 and 18 years on I am still here with Vision!

What do you like most about the industry?

The thing I like most are the people that become my clients and their stories. I love the interaction and being a genuine service provider and trusted adviser.  This is a position I never take for granted.

The bulk of the customers that I have are never just one transaction, it is an ongoing relationship and helping people in a very important part of their lives; buying a home, selling a home, building a property portfolio.

Who is your favourite lender and why?

Macquarie Bank.  Because they do what they say they will do!  That’s rare.  Their systems have been tested in COVID-19 and have really measured up.  Even when the bulk of their team is offsite, they kept within the 1-3 day turnaround, where other lenders pushed out to 4-5 weeks.  To be fair, they did not have the rebates happening.  I still think their service proposition is unparalleled.  The BDM that I have is wonderful and I always feel well supported.

I feel as though I have a solution I can rapidly turnaround for a customer with great service and great rates.

Their multiple offset solution is fantastic and people enjoy their internet banking platform. It is an all-round win for the customer.

What would advice would you offer someone joining the industry?

Work in Hospitality first!  Or, in a banks Branch.  Learn how to talk to all manner of people and how to deal in diplomacy, as this will get you a long way.

Being a Mortgage Broker means you need to think on your feet, being solution oriented and always have the best interests of the customer at the front.

Customers take their home purchase very seriously and a property transaction can turn a calm customer into an emotional train wreck!  It is all important to be able to have the right combination of empathy and urgency to push through and meet the deadline.  So often, you do your best work when things really hit the wall, it is so important that the customer understands you are on their team and will come through for them.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a Mum to a 15 year old boy and a step-Mum to 3 kids (aged 11, 10 and 7 years old) so we are a busy household of 4 crazy (wonderful) kids!!!  A lot of my spare time is time with the kids; their sport and lots of cooking!

I love crochet and macramé.  I make blankets and wall hangings, there’s always 3-4 projects on the go! 

We are into African Cichlids, they are a tropical fish from Lake Malawi and we have 10 tanks in the house.  My step-son calls us “Fish Nerds” My partner and I love to travel, so we are looking forward to being able to get away and chilling out somewhere near a golf course. 

What challenges are you facing with the current climate?

Terrible turn-around times!  I know it’s to be expected during a global pandemic, but waiting 5-6 weeks for an assessment is a really terrible expectation to have to set for your customer.

The amount of preparation and care that goes into a deal, only to be told something negative by an Assessor, that you missed ticking a box, or the form you sent in is outdated by a few days, can be very frustrating. Particularly when the assessor is not leading with commonsense or care – just simply following bank policy.  I feel that some assessors are in the role, because they have a God complex – perhaps that’s a bit cynical and I just need a holiday!

If you won $10M tomorrow, what would you do?

Invest wisely so the money continues for generations!  I don’t think my lifestyle would change that drastically, I am really happy.  I would just like to know that we will be comfortable and the things we love doing, we can do more of.

If I had $10 million I would want to give money to a worthwhile cause, such as the Dandelion Support Network; where they help people who are really struggling with essential items due to a relationship breakdown and potential abuse.

Describe what you were like in high school in 3 words…

 Oh Gosh!  Cringe!

What do you enjoy most about working at Vision Property & Finance? (other than working with Helen…. of course!)

Matt and Dave!  They are the foundation of the business and we have worked together so long it is like we are family.  They are good guys to work for and with.  At their core, their belief is that if you move forward in the best way for the customer, then the numbers and the success will follow.

We are not in it for the quick buck or the quick transaction. It is about a long term connection and we have built a data-base of like-minded clients.

What is your key for success?

Just keep pushing forward!

What makes you laugh?

Everyday absurdities

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