Your failsafe guide to hiring support staff

Picture this, your business is growing. You’ve got a constant flow of leads, you’re maintaining referral partnerships, nurturing prospective clients and servicing existing ones. But you’ve become so busy that you can’t physically manage everything that comes with being busy, without compromising on service to each client.

In comes your saving grace, someone who does all the ‘little things’ that are actually the most important part of the gig. In comes your new support person.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is. But just how easy is it to find this person?

For many brokers, hiring a support person is the first step to building a more efficient and profitable business. But how do you get started?

Before you start searching

Being busy can be overwhelming, but before you make a decision to hire someone, you need to make sure you and your business are actually ready for them. There’s nothing worse than making a commitment to someone only to have to let them go months later because you can’t actually afford them.

First step, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Use the below Engage Staff Checklist to see if you are ready.

Are you ready to grow checklist

Answer Yes or No to the following?

  • Ability to clearly communicate what you want from someone?
  • Confidence in your ability to give feedback and communicate effectively?
  • Confidence in the process that you’ve built?
  • Your processes written down with easy to follow instructions?
  • The belief that you can both manage volume with the right resources in place?

Did you answer yes to all of these? Then time to move to the next step in hiring! If no, considering slowing down the process.

Is your business ready?

Next up, your business. Is your business ready for this next step? Not sure? Here are some key questions to get you thinking.

  • Identify what stage you’re at in your business. Have you reached your maximum output as a solo broker and need another set of hands, or, is there opportunity to maximise efficiencies and continue going at it alone?
  • Know your numbers. As brokers, we know a lot about other people’s finances, but not so much about ours! Make sure you really understand your business financials; what are your overheads? What capital do you need to hire someone? And, how much will additional staff really change your P&L?
  • Identify the roles needed in your business for growth. Is it a support person you need to manage the administrative side of the job? Or do you need a loan writer to get more leads? Where is the gap in your business and what kind of role would fill it?

So you think you’re ready to hire someone

If you and your business are ready to take the plunge, the next challenge is actually finding the right person. There are many variables in play, including the skills and experience level you need in a support person. Keeping in mind that the different levels will also require different salary packages.

Different skill levels in support people (based on Loan Market standards)

Level 1: New to industry Level 2: 0-2 years in industry Level 3: 2-5+ years in industry
  • Assists others in the office
  • Greets clients
  • Chases documents
  • Collects mail
  • Confirms and follows-up appointments
  • Assist with office marketing
  • Managers monthly reporting and whiteboards
  • Data entry
  • Raises pricing requests
  • Orders valuations
  • Competent in Compliance and NCCP requirements
  • Base salary – award wage
  • Can run a team meeting
  • Is able to search for solutions for the broker and use initiative
  • Can effectively implement new process and see it through
  • Can successfully organise an information night/event
  • Can manage files and has 70% 1 touch files
  • Can effectively manage more than 30 files at a time
  • Can use a servicing calculator for 4 different banks
  • Knows 8 lender policies and systems well
  • Confidence in sitting in a meeting with broker
  • Can complete solo document signing with clients
  • Understands asset finance and the process, and can successfully identify potential clients
  • Can run a team meeting
  • Manages 2 or more people underneath them
  • Can confidently manage the office when broker is on leave
  • Shows and initiative and can implement change
  • Knows policy – confident in more than 8 lenders
  • Can run pre-annual review meetings and help broker assess situations
  • High quality broker submissions with excellent clients notes
  • Can manage post client communication
  • Has their certificate 4 in Mortgage Broking
  • Can pre-vet all meetings confidently

The level of support person you choose will be determined by what your business needs are. If you can still manage part of the process, and simply need someone for data entry, you won’t need a seasoned professional that has worked in the industry for 5+ years, and vice versa.

Finding the perfect fit.

Once you’re ready to start looking for someone, you should do some market research as well as your own initiative to reach out to industry contacts. Usually, the best people come from personal recommendations from others. Here’s how you can get started.

  • Employment websites including Seek and Indeed. Note that you will have to pay to promote your job listing, and will then need to assess resumes and conduct interviews yourself. If you are conducting interviews yourself, contact me for an interview guide.
  • Speak to industry connections to see what their experience has been like hiring a support person, and ask if they have any suitable applicants. My team works through this process with brokers and helps them find candidates.
  • Recruitment agencies. While you may have to pay a fee for their service, recruiters generally have candidates ready to go, that they can match to your business. For your best shot, use a recruitment agency that specialise in banking and finance recruitment.

Once you’ve found the right person, it’s time to get them onboard.

The legal stuff

Contractor vs Employee

By law, if you operate a business and engage a worker, you’re responsible for determining whether they’re an employee or contractor. To find out if your worker should be engaged as an employee or contractor the ABR have an employee/contractor decision tool which you can use here.

Now for the really fun stuff. As much as your new support person has to meet your criteria, you too have to meet standard legal requirements as an employer.

Your obligations as an employer

  • Wages and entitlements; are you across the national minimum wage and the National Employment Standards?
  • Tax collection. Employers must meet tax obligations, including PAYG withholding and super.
    See more about tax collection here
  • Record keeping
  • Payslips must be given to an employee within 1 working day of pay day, even if an employee is on leave.
  • Consider Visa restrictions
  • Workers compensation
  • See more about super for employers here
  • Workplace Health and Safety
  • Termination

You can find information on the above topics on the Fair Work website here.

Onboarding a support staff member can be tricky when you’re going at it alone, but regardless, every team member should receive the following on their first day or prior.

  • Job description
  • Employment contract (award and no award)
  • New starter form
  • Performance management review form
  • Fair Work policy
  • Fair Work information statement
  • Meeting and one-on-ones with staff

Now that they’re on the team, don’t lose them.

Support staff are your greatest asset, don’t underestimate the importance of giving them their own growth opportunities. The more you upskill your support people, the more you can delegate to them, freeing up your time and giving them a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re working under an aggregator, seek out any training and support they provide for support staff. For me and my team at Loan Market, we make it a priority to help brokers build thriving business. With this, comes fully built learning and training systems to get support staff onboarded. On top of this, we’ve created a digital community for our close to 250 Customer Service Managers (CSMs) to connect, share ideas and learn from each other on best practices.

If you need a hand getting started with hiring support staff, we’d be happy to help. Reach out!

PUBLISHED September 27th, 2019 IN Stories and insights

Andrea McNaughton

Andrea is Loan Market’s Executive Director of Network Success. Starting her career in real estate over 20-years ago, she has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge within the real estate and finance industries. Andrea's love for a challenge and restlessness for growth have made her an undeniable force of leadership within the Loan Market Group.