Jennifer Nielsen X Inc. Mortgage Brokers Loan Market Group

established 1995;I

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$42 million turnover§


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When twenty-three-yearold home-loan queen Jennifer Nielsen went to the bank in 1982 for her first mortgage, she co- applied for the money with a single female friend who also wanted to secure an asset before a husband.

'I don't know if the bank manager thought we were lesbians, but I recall he thought it very odd,' Nielsen recalls with amusement. 'Now, it is very common for friends to buy property together.'

The unconventional loan application was accepted, and the block of land she and her friend bought was Nielsen's first step towards making $1 million from shrewd property trades in the lucrative Brisbane and Sydney markets. 'I love to buy and sell real estate and I've done well out of it, especially in Queensland. But Kenny Rogers, in the song The Gambler, had it right—you never count your money when you're sitting at the table.'

Having experienced the satisfaction—and financial benefits—of putting her money into bricks and mortar, the chief executive of X Inc Mortgage Brokers is helping others to do the same in a complex lending environment now overshadowed by credit-crunch anxiety.

Despite the uncertainty, X Inc—which effectively doubled its market presence by merging with Ray White Mortgages last year—is employing up to thirty new brokers a month. Nielsen and her business partners John Kolenda and Dean Rush- ton aim to make theirs the biggest mortgage broker in Australia by 2010. 'We want to have a mortgage broker attached to every real estate office in the country,' she says.

So how did she make the leap from young home-buyer to mortgage magnate? 'It's tempting to believe that success is due to individual brilliance or a magic formula,' Nielsen says.

'In reality, it comes down to hard work and, in our case, identifying a gap in the market. We wanted the white-collar market—the AB demographic. We made a difference for them. Now, it's far more acceptable for those

people to go to a ^ It's tempting to believe

broker for a loan.' that success is due to

л і , individual brilliance or a

And in tough

. magic formula. In reality, it

times such a service comes down to hard work is all the more wel- and, in our case, identifying come. 'People need a gap in the market. ^ to talk to someone

like a broker to understand the finance options and what is likely to happen, because it's confusing. They are turning to mortgage brokers for objective advice.'

She sounds as if she's been in finance all her life. But Nielsen's first jobs could hardly have been further away from that world. She worked as a cook and deckhand on a tiger-prawn trawler in the waters between Cairns and Groote Eylandt. Then she was a regional sales manager for Yellow Pages. Both jobs, however, taught her how to run a business and inspire other people. 'On the trawler, I learned about teamwork. I can't claim it was as bad as the Deadliest Catch TV show or anything, but there were situations where, if someone didn't do their thing, the boat could literally sink. At Yellow Pages I was a benevolent dictator, but I learned to listen. I had no choice.'

Nielsen went on to become a recruitment consultant and worked closely with Kolenda and Rushton, executives at the time with Aussie Home Loans. In 2004, they asked her to join them in setting up X Inc. She trusted their knowledge enough to concentrate on learning. 'Their competence took enormous pressure off me,' Nielsen acknowledges. 'It's much harder learning a new industry at the top than from the bottom. It changes your leadership style because the people around you know more than you.'

Nielsen applies the lesson she learned on the prawn trawler to the fast-paced world of finance.

There's a captain, but when you are riding the waves it's all hands on deck. 'We have built our brand on limited funds,' she says. 'We were taken to court [by Aussie Home Loans for poaching staff] when we were less than two minutes old, and a major bank wouldn't work with us until that case was resolved.' Now it seems to be plain sailing, but the same principle of equality continues: 'I have an open-plan office. I personally return calls. I think having a personal assistant is a luxury rather than a necessity. And when you surround yourself with assistants, they are between you and the real world.' Nielsen shares a PA with three other managers.

Having a child has also changed Nielsen's man-agement style. Commuting between Brisbane and Sydney, she travels with her four-year-old son and a nanny, who cares for him in the flat above her Surry Hills office in Sydney. The experience has made her deeply sympathetic towards employees who also have young children. 'I scheduled my Caesarean, then I couldn't control it [child rearing] any more! When a staff member has a child-care issue, I now say, "Bring them into the office." If that had happened before, I'd have been mentally counting the lost productivity through gritted teeth. Now I know. The biggest challenge has been to balance my business life with my young son and my husband—who runs a global business of his own. I love my family, and I honestly believe balance is important.'

Kerrie Davies

golden rules

Stay close to the people who are close to your customers.

Treat every customer as if he or she is the last one you will ever get.

Keep all your key intellectual property in-house. Don't outsource it.

Be aware of, and stay on top of, what your competitors are doing.

Believe above all else that there is a solution to everything.


In October of 2007, X-Inc merged with real estate chain RayWhite Group's Electronic Mortgage Organisation Channels of Australasia Pty Ltd (eMOCA), comprising Ray White Financial Services, Loan Market and REA Home Loans, to create a $13 billion loan book.

Nielsen headed the new entity, commonly known as the Loan Market Group, but stepped down in January of 2009 to focus on developing Ray White's online marketing strategy. She is currently head of online marketing for the Ray White Group. 1.

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Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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