Just under a decade ago, Leonie and David Jackson were working full-time, Leonie as a primary school teacher, and David in IT. The decision to invest in property changed their life, providing financial stability and piquing their interest in business ownership.
Inspired by Money Secrets of the Rich by John Burley, Leonie and David decided to invest in property to build financial stability.
“The way to get off the treadmill of life that we were in was to get involved in property,” says Leonie. They began buying in 2002, while juggling their full-time jobs. By 2003, Leonie had quit her full-time role as a teacher to solely focus on building their property portfolio.
To assist in this, Leonie and David became fully-accredited mortgage brokers.
“If we were able to understand the finance industry and how that operated, that would assist us in growing our property business,” explains Leonie.
It wasn’t until February 2004 that David joined his wife in the business.
David explains that Great Aussie Dream’s current state was simply an evolution of their formative property investing days.
“We grew out of our property business. As we acquired more properties and finance got more complex, we found it really hard to get anyone to help us so we saw there was an opportunity there to provide more of a strategic and supportive project in financing. It was purely as a result of that.
“We created it around what we wanted out of a broker, as a property investor,” he says.
“Most of our business focus was financing our properties ourselves,” agrees Leonie. “The business back then was focusing on just building a great foundation for ourselves and our business from a property point-of-view.”
Only in the last two years has growth been their primary focus.
“We’ve probably done the most amount of growth in the last two years, which, ironically, some people say is the worst two years if you’ve wanted to grow a business. We’ve seen it as an opportunity,” says Leonie.
We are the customers
Since the business’ growth, Leonie and David have found that their range of clientele is diverse and have adapted their offerings to suit. For instance, Leonie notes that while a lot of their customers are seasoned property buyers, there has been a recent surge in younger inexperienced buyers.
“We’ve got a lot of professional investors on board… but at the same time, we’ve got this amazing database of 18 to 20 years-olds who are buying property,” she says. To better service the influx of younger buyers, Great Aussie Dream has included a buyers’ agency arm to their service offerings.
David notes, despite operating in Glenmore Park in the Penrith region of Sydney, the number of customers from their region is surprisingly sparse.
“We actually have amazingly few people from Penrith as our clients,” he says. “The geographic spread of our client base is Australia-wide and international as well.”
“We’ve got clients in Hong Kong, Queensland, Victoria… so we’re quite diverse,” adds Leonie.
So how has Great Aussie Dream expanded beyond its geographical location? David explains that it stems from their passion for property.
“It comes mainly because we are active property investors and because we’ve set up a business with what a property investor needs from finance in mind. We’ve just attracted that type of business,” he explains.
Entrenching themselves in the industry has caused them to become experts in the field, something to which the customers flock.
“We’ve personally bought more than 60 properties ourselves,” says David. “We have been and still are very active property investors.”
This passion for the industry is the core of their success. Having been a customer, David and Leonie are in tune with the needs of the average property investor. It is this affinity with their customers, which allows them to seek out the best way to provide service.
“When a client comes to us because they want to buy their first home, we know how to get them started. We set them up with a roadmap of what they can go on to do,” says Leonie.
Throughout their years in business, they have had some amazing success stories. One client, for example, approached Great Aussie Dream a few years ago, seeking finance for their first home. Still renting and with four kids, the couple would have had trouble imagining that three years later they would own their own home and have a property portfolio worth over $1.5 million. This is what makes their business so rewarding, says Leonie and David.
“Our goal is for our clients to create wealth through property,” says Leonie. “It’s not a simple transaction, a single relationship. It’s about offering more to our clients.”
The choice of business name serves to reinforce their aim.
“It all goes back to what the Australian affinity with property is. Just about every Australian wants to own their own home and it seemed like Great Aussie Dream encapsulated everything we wanted for ourselves and our clients,” says David. “Rather than just looking at the loan as a transaction, we look at it as the beginning of a journey where we’re looking for them to achieve their ultimate goals. That is what Great Aussie Dream, by its very definition, actually means.”
Family and teamwork
It is Leonie and David’s passion and drive that has pushed Great Aussie Dream to be ahead of the game. However, it is their different approaches to business, which have made their business unique.
Leonie, on the one hand, describes herself as driven and determined, with a penchant for dreaming big.
“From a business perspective, it’s important to aim big, drive big, think big,” says Leonie. A self-confessed, obsessive goal writer, Leonie believes that it is crucial to constantly write goals to keep you motivated, even when the key to achieving them is unknown.
“I wrote a goal back in 2004 that I wanted to meet Donald Trump,” she says. Proving that dreams can work in mysterious ways, six weeks later while holidaying in New York City, David and Leonie had a chance encounter with the world-famous businessman.
“I met Donald Trump!” she says.
If Leonie is the business’ heart, then David is undoubtedly the head of the operation.
“I’m a person of integrity so if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Their differences are what make the duo such a formidable force in business.
“Honestly, we make a really good team,” says Leonie. “We’ve been married 26 years so we work very well together and understand each other and where we’re coming from.”