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Director and senior lending specialist at Connected Finance George Mihalopoulos jumped the fence from banking to broking after watching an interview with an industry heavy weight that solidified his calling.
MPA spoke with the Illawarra broker about the moment he decided to leave a well-paid career to set up shop as a broker as well as a refinance that caused him weeks of pain.
Entering the dream-making business
After toying with the idea for a good ten years, Mihalopoulos made the transition from banking to broking in 2016.
“During my banking career I’d always been in either lending roles or a leadership role and I wanted something to combine the two.”
While leaving a well-paid secure position with super and annual leave is a difficult choice for most people, he was given a final push in the right direction after hearing the industry described as “the dream-making business” during an interview with Mark Bouris in the days of Wizard Home Loans.
It was then he started to understand why other colleagues had made the switch themselves.
“It stuck with me that there were clear benefits in moving over to the broker space and not being limited by the one lender and having options for your clients.”
“Being in this dream making business, I could truly be in a position where I’m providing the correct help and the right choices for clients that meets their needs and goals as opposed to purely just the one option with the previous lenders that I’ve worked with.”
Being able to start his own business was another benefit that greatly appealed to Mihalopoulos.
“It really came back to me how hard and fast I wanted to hit this.”
“As a business owner, if I’m working for myself until two o’clock in the morning or whatever it might be, I know it’s all for me, my business, my family, my staff.”
Setting up from scratch
While the transition came with several benefits, it also came with a major challenge – the need to set up the right systems and processes from scratch.
“When I first came into the space, I knew how to lend, I knew how to speak to clients and build a rapport, trust and convert leads.”
“But I really knew nothing about the process in the broker space and what that looked like.”
“Whether it was for a first home buyer, investor or a medical professional, I wanted to come up with a process that really delivered an exceptional service to every customer.”
He says there was a lot of trial and error involved but eventually he set up the right process in order to deliver on those expectations.
“Now we’ve certainly got the system, the tools, the process from the first phone call, interview, email, doc sign ups, settlements and after settlement care to ensure we’re dealing with delivering that great experience.”
An epic stack
The most memorable lending scenario he encountered in his time was the one that caused him the most pain – literally.
“I was completing a refinance for a client and part of that refinance was providing some additional funds to repair and build some new stairs at the front of their property.”
“When I’d got to the client’s home to complete the document sign up, I had the worst fall down these old stairs.”
“I couldn’t get up – I had to literally yell out to the clients.”
After the clients helped him inside and iced his injured ankle the three went ahead with the doc sign up, knowing all too well how necessary the finance was.
“After completing the document sign up I went to get up and I literally could not stand. The client had to piggy back me to my car.”
After a trip to the doctors and some scans, Mihalopoulos discovered he had a hairline fracture and multiple tears in the tendons of his ankle.
“I was out of action for three or four weeks.”
“That definitely stands out as one of the most memorable lending scenarios – and those clients are quite close as well cause we definitely bonded on a different level.”
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