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John Symond Aussie Home loans

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established 1992; 1000 employees; about $1 billion worth of home loan applications each month

Considering the infamous indulgences of his $50 million Point Piper pad, one enters the city office of 'Aussie' John Symond expecting big things.

Surely there'll be a basketball-court- sized desk, hewn from the salvaged deck of the Endeavour, a wall-sized plasma screen and a ceiling plastered with $100 bills. In fact, the decor 2. is more functional than flashy, and the occupant a self-confessed workaholic who says his mind is so hyperactive he gets barely four hours of fitful sleep a night.

Sitting in his office, Symond could be any chief executive except when he discusses money. A one-time debt of $5 million is mentioned with a dismissive flick of the wrist that suggests the sum is a mere trifle. Given that Symond's now worth more than $500 million, it is. As for his first million dollars, he has trouble recalling precisely when he passed that minor milestone. 'I was a young articled clerk for a law firm, but at the same time I was learning the ropes about property from my uncle and father.

I bought and sold properties and would have made my first million when I was in my late twenties,' Symond says. 'That was a lot of money back then. I invested it back in real estate. But I lost most of that first million on property, too. I remember investing in building some units and there was a recession. But you learn from your mistakes.'

Symond's biggest ever error was entering a joint venture with the State Bank of South Australia. 'It was the late 1980s, when interest rates were hitting 20 per cent. I just never thought, being naive, that a government-owned bank could go belly up,' he recalls. The memory clearly still riles him. That experience fired a dislike of the major banks that would inspire Symond in 1992 to set up Aussie Home Loans, which changed the way money was lent in this country.

With his 'arse on fire', creditors at the door and bankruptcy looming, Symond decided to fight back. 'It was just total devastation,' he says. 'My greatest motivation was having a three-year-old and a seven-year-old and not wanting them to be denied an education. I hated the thought of them saying: "Oh, yeah, my dad went bankrupt." So that wasn't an option.

'And I was so incensed by the way the banks, the big banks, were treating thousands upon thousands of Australians who had got themselves in strife through no

real fault of their My greatest motivation own. So I worked was having a three-year- out a deal with my old and a seven-year-old creditors, giving me and not wanting them to be three years to pay denied an education. back about $5 million.' An ordinary salary clearly wasn't going to be large enough to make those payments, so Symond set up his own financial institution, undercut the big banks, filmed some now notorious ads and made a fortune. 'People say, "Why did you do your own ads?" Well, at the time I

couldn't afford to hire any real talent,' Symond explains. 'It taught me the importance of marketing yourself, because people will listen to you.'

In 2008, Symond sold 33 per cent of Aussie to Commonwealth Bank and used funding from the bank to buy rival Wizard Home Loans. That development was as much of a surprise to him as it was to everybody else. 'If you had said to me

С People say, "Why did you do your own ads?" Well, at the time I couldn't afford to hire any real talent. J

a year ago that I'd have appointed a CEO to take on the day-to-day running of the business and gone into a partnership with a big bank, I'd have said, "What are you smoking, mate? You must be mad!" But I learned a long time ago that the best way of predicting the future is to create it—and that means being proactive and not being afraid to change.'

Symond's face, and voice, on those ads helped him establish a bond of trust with the public, he believes: 'I can't walk fifty paces without people walking up and asking for advice, and they feel very comfortable in doing that,' he says. 'And I always stop and talk, whether it's the garbo or the policeman or whoever.' Symond believes his working-class roots are the key to his everyman

appeal, and he gives his parents—who owned fruit shops where he worked as a boy—much of the credit for his success.

'My greatest role models were my mum and dad. They didn't have a lot of formal education, but I learned more from them than I did from eleven schools and two universities,' he says.

'I thank my lucky stars that I grew up working class because it means that I can relate well to mums and dads in suburbia. If you're born into a privileged situation, you really don't know what makes people tick.'

While the long property boom filled his coffers, Symond says he's appalled by house prices. 'Houses are just too expensive, and the dream of home ownership is becoming a nightmare for many people. Governments are milking the golden goose dry with all their various taxes, and the way we're going it's not going to be possible for younger people to own their own homes. That will have serious consequences for our economy,' Symond warns.

Money isn't a panacea, he says, 'but it does help when you're going shopping'. He likes to spend his spare cash on boats, cars, watches, contemporary Australian art and his spectacular house that overlooks the Sydney Opera House, the largest private residence in Australia. 'I do like to shop. My staff know not to let me have any spare time because if I do, I'll go and buy a watch or something. I really like watches,' he says.

And all the time My greatest role models his mind is racing.

were my mum and dad. 'It's very hard for

They didn't have a lot . • . і і

me to just relax and

of formal education,

turn off, but I find but I learned more from '

them than I did from being on the water eleven schools and two whether in a din- universities.} ghy or a bigger boat, really helps. And I'm lucky, because I've got a nice boat and a beautiful home on the water. Every day I pinch myself and think how very fortunate I've been.'

But he also feels he's achieved something worthwhile. Looking back, 'The big breakthrough was when, after we'd been undercutting the big banks for a while, they turned around and dropped their home-loan interest rates by almost 3 per cent,' he says. 'I know that put money in the pockets of millions of Australians. And that makes me proud.'

Stephen Corby

golden rules

1. You must look after your staff. I've always believed that your No. 1 customers are the

people who work with you. If they don't trust you, if they don't believe in you, they're not going to be loyal to you.

Show strong leadership, and people will follow you.

Concentrate on your core business and cut out all unnecessary expenses.

Don't be afraid of partnerships if they're necessary.

Talk to positive, successful people and ask them how they got there.

Learn from your mistakes and embrace change. And be brave. There are opportunities even in recessions.

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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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