The Next Big Thing (The Adviser)
INTERVIEW BY/ James Mitchell – The Adviser Magazine
At 26, George Samios appears to have found a winning formula for what looks set to become the next big thing in broking. The Adviser discovers the secret to his success.
THE OWNER of My Address Finance ‘or Madd Finance, as it is commonly known’ is a charmer. His positivity is infectious and quite possibly one of the key ingredients in his up-and-coming business, which wrote more than $85 million in home loans last financial year: not bad for a broker three years into his career.
In March, Madd Finance was one of only two brokerages to take home multiple awards at the Better Business Awards in Brisbane, with George Samios and his mother, Helen Zeremes, winning the Rising Star and Best Loan Administrator awards, respectively.
But it was at the Australian Broking Awards last year where George’s savvy saw him bag comic legend Vince Sorrenti as a client and subsequent referrer.
I was nominated as a finalist for Broker of the Year, George says. I didn’t think I had a chance of winning because I was only 25. Anyway, we flew down to Sydney. I just really wanted to go down and talk to other brokers. We didn’t win any awards, but I did manage to have a chat with Vince.
George asked the Australian comedy veteran who was MC at The Adviser’s event who his broker was. He said he didn’t have one, George says. So I asked him what his rates were. He told me and they weren’t good at all. I got his business card, followed him up and did business with him. I saved him a load of money and he’s a very happy client. He did a testimonial for our website.
Now on a first-name basis with Vince and catching up with him on a regular basis, both men both found they shared a positive attitude and good sense of humour. It was during one of their chats when George came up with an idea.
I asked him if he’d do a commercial for us, George says. He was more than happy to get involved and be an ambassador for Madd because he knows what we are about.
We like having fun and making the experience easy and hassle-free for our customers.
If you haven’t already seen it, you’re seriously missing out. The professionally produced ad features Vince in a zombie apocolypse’ sequence, which ends with the comedian plugging the company with beautiful irony in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style: Madd finance is one of Australia’s most awarded mortgage brokers, he says, as George looks on with glee. They do home loans, boat loans, even helicopters! Brilliant.
The full one-minute ad was aired on national television when Vince recently appeared on Channel Ten’s morning show.
As George explains: He texted me going, brother, record Channel Ten ‘I’ve just given you a plug!’ The entire one-minute commercial was aired on Channel Ten.
Having Vince Sorrenti fly your flag is pretty special, but it just goes to show the types of customers George attracts.
Most of his clients are successful people: doctors, lawyers, surgeons. This is the type of person that gravitates towards the young broker.
You can attract like-minded people who are positive, happy and want to get ahead, he says.
I deal with these people and I get stuff done really fast, they’re really impressed and they refer their friends and family. So now my referrers are all positive people.
I know brokers who are the complete opposite their clients are all negative, aggressive, annoying, all low-doc loans and this and that. I’ve never been attracted to that type of client. We just do the right thing. I think if you do the right thing, you attract the right people.
A passion for property
George became a broker three years ago, but when he was 18 he started a career as a real estate agent working for LJ Hooker South Brisbane. “I loved it”, he says. “My passion is property. I educate people on property all the time. A lot of my referrers are real estate agents.”
He was a good agent, an award-winning agent, and a hard worker. His mother, Helen, was a mobile lender with 20 years’ experience in finance. She is the reason George moved into mortgages.
So at 20 years of age, George left LJ Hooker to work for Bankwest.
“My mother said George, you work so hard as a real estate agent, I reckon you’d be great as a lender” he explains. “She said you get a salary, commission, a car and a phone and some stability. I wanted to buy a property, but the banks were giving me grief for being a real estate agent paid on commission. So I thought If I can work for the bank, I can get a cheap loan’.”
As an agent George enjoyed helping people find or sell properties, but as a lender he found even greater satisfaction helping his clients buy their own home.
I felt I was helping them out more “I was more fulfilled and still working with property.”
During his two years as an agent with LJ Hooker, George says he learnt a lot about sales, organisation and work ethic.
The experience formed a solid foundation to launch his career in finance. Being commission-based also had its upside when he moved into a salaried job with Bankwest.
“When I went to the bank, I was working my arse off because that’s what I had to do as an agent working for commission,” he says. “Within six to 12 months I was the bank’s number-one lender.”
While he enjoyed helping clients buy property as a banker, there was one frustration: when he encountered a customer he couldn’t help, there were no other options. After all, working for a bank means working with one lender’s policy.
“The reason I became a broker is because I was always referring someone to a broker if I couldn’t help them not necessarily because they were a bad customer, but just because the bank had its policy,” he says.
“As a broker I have every bank at my disposal and can take every customer to the best bank 100 per cent, every time.”
When you work at one bank you can only do one deal, George says. When a client would ask me ‘Is this the best deal?’ I’d say, well I don’t really know. This honesty cuts to the heart the mortgage broking proposition George was compelled to give borrowers a choice.
He initially considered joining Aussie or entering into a franchise agreement with a large branded group, but after a few meetings with them he started feeling as if he was just joining another company, starting another job. I wanted to be the master of my own success, my own destiny, he says. I like doing things my way, which is the right way.
I decided I would create a brokerage based on positive culture and a good attitude. That’s why I called us MADD. We like to do things differently.
The group’s customer satisfaction is about 95 per cent. They do surveys after each deal has settled. Now in its third year of business, the brokerage has built up a bulletproof referral network.
I started out by myself, George explains. After six months I put on a part timer.
Everyone was telling me, ‘George, you’re working too hard, you need to hire someone’. It was almost harder to put on someone than to start the company. But now I realise that without help, it wouldn’t have worked. Also, in the early days, setting up good procedures and policies within the business was fundamental.
George now employs a PA and a credit analyst. He says there have been times in the past few years when he has had up to five staff, but he believes a broker can be far more successful with a leaner team. “Now I can concentrate on writing loans,” he says.
“We will do over $100 million this financial year and there is no stress. At the start I was working crazy hours, but now I work nine-to-five, five days a week. That’s it. You need to look after yourself – training, bike-riding, tennis. You need to keep your head clear and stay positive. If you’re stressed you get negative, and if you’re negative you lose focus. You always need to know why you are working to help people, to build your business.
George’s mum, Helen, started working for her son two years ago. As he explains, he added her to his team he could afford her. She was a mobile lender with a bank before coming to work for me. When she came on board things changed a lot.
When you get someone who has been in the finance industry for 20 years on your side, helping you, educating you, and genuinely caring about the business, that changes the whole game. If everyone could have a mum in their business, they’d be set.
After only three years in the business, George wants to expand and has long-term goals to become a branded franchise group. We’re going from a 43 square meter office to 110 square meters, he says.
I’ve got every intention of growing and bringing on brokers, but I will only do that once MADD is 100 per cent transparent and every customer receives the same level of service. I’ve built these systems and procedures so everyone knows what’s going on.
“MADD will become an Aussie in a couple of years. I got into it to do that. I didn’t get into this to be a one-man band. That’s why I’m spending this money on advertising and doing the right things and creating raving fans.”
In the meantime, MADD has been growing its fan base. “Our brand is becoming really well known in Queensland,” George says. “Like, really well known.”
The phone rings non-stop now because I’ve built this brand that everyone knows, if they want a loan, to go to MADD.
Why? It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s fun “we do so much more than everyone else.”