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Partner Insights with Nicki Ghazi of Valiant Finance

A quick interview with Moula Partner Nicki Ghazi of Valiant Finance about how she's using Moula to help her clients get business finance

A good broker seems to have technical skills and soft skills. What do you believe are your greatest strengths as both a lending specialist and a manager?

I’m very personable and empathetic. I aim to create purposeful relationships and foster a deeper level of understanding by having real conversations. As a manager, this allows me to better understand each team member’s needs and how to cater to these. 

I’m resilient and willing to work hard to achieve great outcomes. As a lending specialist, that also means keeping across constantly changing policies and processes. Adaptability is key as a manager, and a lender.

You were appointed to a managerial role quite early in your career. What advice do you have for others looking to follow in your footsteps?

  1. Take the initiative. Small things like relaying learnings to colleagues and working out ways to enhance performance are vital, making a big difference in the long run. Equally important, form industry relationships so you can better negotiate on behalf of your clients.
  2. Keep your focus on results. As much as it’s important to hit a company-designated target and ensure customers are getting the best finance solution, I personally set higher objectives and focus just as much on my own performance. I can do this because I enjoy what I do and share in Valiant’s vision.
  3. Remain introspective. Reflect on your performance and determine areas for improvement.
  4. Be a self-learner. Always strive to learn more irrespective of what’s expected from you. Whether that involves completing more detailed analysis of financials, or creating amortisation schedules, always go above and beyond.
  5. Don’t be limited by the status quo.

What challenges did you face when starting out as a lending specialist or have you encountered along the way?

When I started at Valiant Finance there was only one other broker in the team. For Valiant, it was the early post-seed startup stage, and as such, there wasn’t a proper on-boarding process and we didn’t initially have access to training material. Soon into the journey, I started getting exposed to all types of deals, including working capital, debtor, trade, property, and asset finance. I dived right in and initially improvised, but luckily, I learn best by ‘doing’ so this worked well for me. 

Finally, an ongoing challenge that we face as brokers is dealing with regular policy changes from lenders. There have been times when lenders have suddenly moved to exclude certain industries.

What’s your experience being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry? Why should other women consider a role in this industry?

My experience has been great as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry has been great for the most part. Although sexism still unfortunately exists, I’ve been very fortunate to work and cross paths with many forward-thinking and intelligent people. I believe that when you focus on your personal goals and doing great work, you should ultimately gain the respect of others. 

There are many reasons to join this industry. It’s an opportunity to challenge and change the status quo. We can make a real difference with more women taking senior and executive roles. More generally though, it’s a great opportunity to make a difference to SMEs across Australia, and in turn, change people’s lives.

I believe the future is bright for women in finance. The highest-paid CEO in Australia is a woman, and she holds the position at a bank. I think it can only get better from here.

How have you found working with Moula?

I’ve had an extremely positive experience with Moula. As a provider of business loans, Moula is extremely transparent, and will consider each deal on its own merits.  The team at Moula is constantly striving to improve their processes, as well as their speed from application to outcome.

What kind of clients have been a good fit for Moula?

Most clients from reputable industries have been a good fit, with the exception of home builders. Business loans for professional services including architects, dentists, doctors, accountants, lawyers, and consultants are often priced very sharply. I’ve also had great outcomes for clients from industries such as manufacturing, IT, and often retail too.

Why would you choose Moula over another lender?

Moula is very transparent with rates. With Moula, clients also have the ability to pay out early anytime without penalty and make extra payments throughout the term to further save. As brokers, we’re able to quote relatively accurately once we have received the client’s information and set expectations according to the lending criteria.

How has working with Moula impacted your business?

Moula helps me get solutions for my clients. I’m able to assist so many SMEs who have been knocked back by their bank, sometimes even last minute, to provide a quick and affordable solution. 

Working with Moula has obviously improved client satisfaction, and therefore, job satisfaction. I’ve lost count of the number of times a customer has expressed how grateful they were and that we ‘saved the day’.

What advice do you have for brokers looking to start using non-bank lenders?

Non-bank lenders are the future of SME finance. Business owners are becoming more and more reluctant to put their personal property on the line, and when they can, the facility limit will often restrict their business growth or growth plans. 

My advice is to learn the policies and niches of non-bank lenders so you can place the finance need where it fits best and retain your clients for years to come. It’s amazing how non-bank lenders can service so many good businesses the banks will not. 

Author:

All the thoughts, ideas and musings from the Moula team! Covering everything from work/life balance to general finance tips plus everything in between!

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