“There has not been a single day where I wish I were still working for a bank …. I wish I'd made the decision a day, week, month, a year earlier, in hindsight.”
He’d been considering the well-trodden path from banker to broker but the self-proclaimed ‘planner’ wanted his entry to be exactly as he envisaged.
Mr Toome said it was critical to have a brains trust spanning corporate and personal support when making the transition.
He used ex-bankers he’d worked with who’d set up effective brokerage models as sounding boards.
“I took time out to go and sit with brokers in their offices to watch what they were doing and listen to how they did their job,” he said. “I wanted to see how it was different from what I was doing in a branch, for a bank.
“And then I had Loan Market State Director Steve Pettitt. He has an incredibly hands-on approach and every how-to, why, where and what is always answered with Steve and (SA Loan Market Administrator) Holly Hammond.
“There's a lot of structured stuff through Loan Market, as well, for business owners … operating rhythms, return on investments, what each staff member should be generating etc. Right from the start, I had people I could ask for help and support.
“I looked at a lot of different aggregator models, and I came to LMG for their Partner service plan for a reason: because that support was proven from broker, after broker, after broker.
“We've had it as well, and we've leveraged every piece of it that we've ever needed.”
Having just notched the business’ second-anniversary last month, the current lead volume has the trio working in the business at capacity.
His business plan - which he spent developing for the last two years of his bank career - included administrative support from day one.
“I had a full-time customer service manager with me, and about four months in, we started plugging in some extra broker support, firstly in a part-time capacity and then full-time,” he said.
He hoped to settle $20m inside his first 12 months. He’d earmarked the figure to help him cover the costs of employing full-time support and fitting out a shopfront, having set up in a lovely old church building in the middle of Port Lincoln.
Prime exposure in town was definitely helpful, but the main thing that drove foot traffic through the front door was his reputation as a solutions-based lender.
Customers knew he was great when at the bank, but now he was working with a panel of over 60 lenders.
“We took on absolutely every customer that we could find: tiny little loans through to the complex stuff,” he said. “Some of it was to my detriment with the hours you put into deals, but I was like, ‘Well, this might help them find a home, so let's go on that adventure’.”
Over-servicing clients does eventually return with interest, he said. Often, it’s in the form of Google Reviews, which Mr Toome had set up from day one.
“You help someone and they're happy to tell other people. Over the last two years, we've collected where everyone came from. We found that 90% are referrals from another client - it's just incredible. So, you just need that first client, and you’re on your way.”
In a short time, the trusted relationships that Mr Toome has developed with clients have led to asset and commercial finance, diversifying his revenue streams and building a smarter business.
“The second 12 months has just been full-on with inquiries - more leads than we can virtually handle,” he said.
“In the first 12 months, we really pigeonholed ourselves with just home loans. Anyone that wanted a car loan, a boat loan, a caravan loan, I just didn't look at it.
“But over that first 12 months, it became so apparent that I’m not just home loans anymore. I had to broaden my horizons.”
He’s been blown away by the demand for car and other asset finance loans.
“We’ve done a luxury Riviera motor yacht, business lending and commercial. The complexity of peoples’ needs has blown our minds. And as soon as you've helped someone with something else, they'll tell someone else.
“No matter what version it is of yourself, you've gotta believe in your customer value proposition. And all it takes is one loan. You need that one person to back you and give you a chance. And from that one customer will come the next one and the next one. The referral piece in this game is absolutely incredible.”
Check out LMG's recent webinar with Steve here.