In the hot seat: John Contarino

by Antony Field15 Nov 2021

In 2017, John Contarino started his own brokerage, Mobile Finance Broker, in Atherton, a small rural town in Far North Queensland. Now he’s celebrating winning Broker of the Year Regional at the 2021 Australian Mortgage Awards.

Q: Winning Regional Broker of the Year at the AMAs is a huge achievement. What was your reaction?
A:
My first reaction was total disbelief. I actually shed a tear. I still can’t believe that a broker in a small regional rural town could take out a national award... and at my age! Winning Broker of the Year – Regional 2021 is truly the pinnacle of my 42 years in finance. I worked in residential and commercial lending at three major banks over 38 years and then went out on my own as a broker four years ago. It truly was a major achievement being based in the Atherton Tablelands and being chosen from a record number of broker nominations from all over Australia. I would never have won without my wonderful team of colleagues and loyal clients. Becoming a mortgage broker was the best career decision. I love what I do, helping people with their loans.  

Q: What drives you to succeed as a mortgage broker in a small rural town?
A:
With bank services decreasing in Atherton, providing an extremely high level of professional and ethical service to my clients is what drives me to be successful. When it comes to applying for a home loan, clients don’t want to talk to someone thousands of kilometres away via video link. They want “good old-fashioned face-to-face service” – this is my business slogan; it’s on all my advertising. I’m fuelled by the positive feedback I receive from my clients – posts such as “Congratulations John! A very well-deserved accolade for you and your fabulous team. Here’s to many more years helping locals bring their dreams to reality”. I am also driven by the satisfaction I derive from assisting my clients to purchase their homes, especially first home buyers.

Q: What are the property market trends in your area, and what loan growth have you seen?
A:
Atherton Tablelands is just like any other regional area in Australia – it’s gone ballistic. Real estate agents are desperate for listings as they have run out of stock. Property prices continue to increase almost daily, especially two- to 20-acre blocks. At Mobile Finance Broker, lending growth has risen 21%, driven by the COVID-19 phenomenon – people wanting to move into regional areas – and federal government incentives.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
A:
It was from one of my regional managers when I worked in a bank: keep in regular contact with your customers; if you haven’t spoken to them for more than three months, then they’re not your customer.

Q: What are your goals for the future?
A:
To grow my business, I want to engage another broker. I’m looking for a younger, ethical, results- and customer satisfaction-driven person whose long-term plan would be to take over the business when I retire.