How did you become a commercial finance broker?
My entrepreneurial drive has led me through a multifarious career, which enhanced my business acumen, life and people skills and ultimately equipped me to start my own business. The majority of my professional career has been in the ICT and Telco industry, working in top end account management and as a specialist in acquisition. I had a short and fruitful stint as a Real Estate Agent working for Ray White. This was my first introduction to finance broking, but I was well versed in the finance requirements in the ICT Industry, the seed was planted and the idea took form to start my own Finance Broking Business. My dream developed over the following several years, until finally in 2015 I took the biggest and best risk of my life. With a flair for corporate sales and innovation, I identified the specific area of asset finance that I believe had had room for progress and I immediately realised this was a great opportunity. Loanezi , founded in 2015 is my greatest achievement thus far, and I can finally say that I have found the industry I was born for.
What do you enjoy most about being a broker?
I love being an innovator in this industry, I challenge the status quo and believe that I am pioneering change in the Industry I adore. Fresh eyes and a novel approach has resulted in simple improvements and tweaks that all brings forth some necessary changes that makes life easier for our clients and ourselves. I embrace innovation that has purpose, an industry that does not embrace change in this fourth industrial revolution won’t stand the test of time. Loanezi embodies what a true Fintech is, a happy marriage between finance and technology. The concept of Loanezi was born from a need to fix process issues that had been plaguing this niche space of commercial asset sales for decades. My ICT background and love of technology and salesmanship has led me to invest heavily into building in-house expertise and IP. I am very proud of the portal we developed, a truly clever innovative piece of technology which has become the backbone of Loanezi. Building solutions that incorporate technology with process improvements really excite me, in reality the part I love most is making life easier for my clients, and for their clients.
How do you overcome challenges?
I believe overcoming challenges requires one key attribute, and that is resilience. Resilience to me is simply getting up one more time than what you get knocked down. I feel we all have a level of resilience, but it is something you can nurture into a powerful tool that makes you unstoppable. I grew up in South Africa, a country rife with controversy and turmoil. Political unrest promoted a sense of unease and urgency in the nation and all of this helps manifest into building stronger individuals. Anyone who has done business with a South African will attest to this seemly inherited similarity. Being teased at school for wearing glasses through my primary years was dreadful, but in hindsight for me it was a valuable learning curve. It taught me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and to be strong in the face of confrontation. I really got to know myself and the power of my choices and I emerged as an adult who knew who “Renee” was. More recently my resilience has been greatly tested, let nobody convince you that the life of an entrepreneur is easy, it is difficult, it’s exhausting and it is certainly not for the faint hearted. In summary I guess I overcome challenges simply by soldiering on.
What is the loan approval or client outcome you are most proud of?
One of my first loans was for a Real Estate agent who had started her own real estate, after working in the property industry for many years. She had a brand new ABN, and this is normally something border line impossible to obtain finance for. Without all the new various commercial assets she needed, this new little real estate business literally would not have been able to successfully function, and real estate being as competitive as it is, the Principal knew this was imperative to their success as a new entrant in the market. An Equipment dealer contacted me to see if I could help. A major point of difference with Loanezi is the use of a large lender panel which allows Loanezi to review a much wider matrix of business scenarios, including new ABN holders. Delivering the approval news to that client remains a fond memory.
What is your best business decision?
Becoming the founder of Loanezi is the best business decision I ever made. I completed all the studies and most of what I could whilst still working a full time job and working on the business plan and strategy. This period really tested my belief in the business plan, our gorgeous daughter was only 2 at the time and we love to spoil her to death with attention, so you can imagine there were many sleep deprived months on end. As soon as the certifications came through, and we knew that there was a realistic 50% chance of Loanezi becoming a reality, my husband and I worked out how long we could persist on the Loanezi endeavour and virtually only his income and off I went to pour in all my energy into Loanezi. God was totally on our side with the unfolding of events from there on, as we really accelerated the process wonderfully. Loanezi paid back all borrowed start-up capital and became fully self-funded within the first 6 months of operation.
What is your worst business decision?
I am not a believer in regrets, and I really only reflect backwards to capture the learnings and then move on. I except that you can’t possibly triumph over every decision and if you wait for every decision to be the perfect choice, you will procrastinate and waste too much time. Time seems to continue to be my most valuable commodity, and so I decided that instead of waiting for perfection, I will endeavour to always make the best decision I can make in the moment. Having integrity is crucial and my moral compass guides me well and so I can’t say that I greatly regret any business choices. I will however mention the decision of declining to purchase Bitcoin currency which was offered to me many years ago which will not go down as my finest hour 🙂
How do you look after your mental health in what is often a stressful job?
As a mother, wife and young woman who likes to look and feel her best, juggling life has been a mission. Being an entrepreneur on top of that list ads a whole new level of over stimulation. The consistent 80 hour weeks in my first year really challenged me mentally. On top of that my ambitious business plan goals for Loanezi were originally greeted with some scepticism and lack of true buy in by influencers who did hold some power to impact outcomes for Laonezi. I was extremely fortunate that I was one of the awardees of the CAFBA Woman in leadership scholarship, and the support I received from that accelerated leadership program actually made the world of a difference. I recall the reluctance in adding an extra task to my plate in that first year of business when I was selected as one of the winners of the scholarship, but I can truly say that without the support at that time, this success story may have been a different one. I think support, fellowship and mentorship is my key to how I look after my mental health. I also love having a diverse range of support so that you can keep an open mind, other industries, cultures, ages and taste in music. I also love to offer my support freely whenever asked.
Where do you see the future of our industry?
I believe the future of our industry is largely dependent on how quick we adapt and adopt the world of technology. The advent of and rapidly expanding digital world has changed the staid marketing and analytical approaches for the entire brokerage industry from lender right through to our end clients. Those that change quickest will be the winners in this new world of finance going forward.