Your corner: Success from the Ground Up
(caption for the above picture: Nathan with his wife Shuchi and son Mahir)
- This is the story of an international student who came to New Zealand from India, got duped by private training establishments (PTEs) under false promises of providing quality education, and was even asked by his Indian employers to pay them money for their help in securing his residency. But that student didn’t give up; rather persevered, and rose to be named among the top five rookie mortgage brokers in the country in 2016 by the Professional Advisers Association. Importantly, his story didn’t start three-four years back, which common perception says was when the floodgates for international students were open by relaxation in rules. He landed in Christchurch on March 26, 2009.
My name is Nathan Miglani. I am a 28-years-old mortgage broker at Loan Market. I own my own home and have invested in multiple properties in Christchurch. In a nutshell, I am the guy you go to if you need to borrow money from banks for buying a house, setting up a business, re-financing or buying investment properties etc. My services are free as I get paid by the banks. And I can safely say that I am well on track to become financially independent by the time I reach 35, which has always been my professional goal. The success I have achieved is credit to the professionalism I embodied from my mentors, which is to always put my clients interest first.
But why am I telling you all this? A plug for my services? Nope. My motives will get clearer by the time I finish this.
Let’s start from the beginning.
As is happening with lots of students from India even now, I came to New Zealand in 2009 in the hope of getting quality education [diploma in business management], which was what I was promised by my immigration agent in Chandigarh [a province in northern India] and the PTE I enrolled in. To my shock and horror, the ground reality here was completely different.
The PTEs were only interested in the tuition fees we paid. And majority of students around me were also not bothered about completing their courses. Rather the focus was on earning money through part-time jobs, and somehow obtain New Zealand residency.
The situation was such that if someone like me wanted to focus on studies, the PTEs were seldom very keen. There was lots of peer pressure as well to join the band-wagon.
I too succumbed to it, and at one time, was working in takeaways, cleaning dishes, serving tables; and if had any time left, trying to complete the course I was enrolled in.
Life was simply, hell!
Not a single day passed in those two years, till 2011 – one for the business course and another under the job search visa – that I didn’t regretted coming to New Zealand. What have I done with my life, was the constant thought.
Things turned worse when owner of one of the Indian restaurants where I used to work part-time asked for thousands of dollars to help me get New Zealand residency. Later on, I learnt that this was [and still is] a common practice.
My New Zealand dream was shattered.
Then, the earthquakes happened. I still remember I was in the Eastgate Mall in Linwood serving curry when it struck. There was a lady with a baby in a pram alongside me, and I spilled the entire curry pot over me trying to cover both of them.
Needless to say, the experience was life-changing. But as they say, every challenge presents itself with many opportunities as well. The next few months gave me the chance to put things in perspective, and I decided this can't go on forever.
I decided to shift to Auckland and enrolled myself in master’s in business management. It was time for some real education!
To support myself, I was also working part-time at a Z petrol pump in the North Shore.
If there's one common thread in my story, it is that I keep meeting wonderful, successful and positive people at crucial junctures in my life. And it is to their [whom I call my mentors] credit that I have made my life in New Zealand.
The first of those was a Kiwi Harcourt’s property agent, who used to come to my petrol pump for a “cuppa” every day. As our interaction grew, he gave a lesson that has stayed with me ever since. “Nathan, people in New Zealand don't care whether you are a Kiwi, Pakistani, Indian, or from Africa, if you provide them good professional service. Always put your client’s interests first and you will never lose a customer,” he used to say.
On his encouragement that I would be good in sales, I applied for a commission-based sales job in Harvey Norman in 2012, got selected and was sent to their Moorhouse Avenue branch in Christchurch.
That job, and meeting my new boss there, Anthony Campbell, was the turning point of my life. Under his guidance, I became the top salesperson for Harvey Norman in Christchurch. He was the one who taught me the A to Z of sales.
Another person who influenced me a lot was my good friend Nathan Najib. I was renting a room at his house, and we used to talk a lot after work. Originally from Afghanistan, he runs a very successful real estate company in Christchurch. “You have to always keep pushing yourself. Aim high and higher. This will propel you to achieve more in life,” he used to say.
Life in New Zealand was getting better now.
But never the one to be satisfied with what I have achieved, I decided to try my hands at banking. As luck would have it, ANZ advertised for a home loan specialist position in Christchurch around the same time. I applied and got selected in 2013.
There I met another great influence of my life, our manager Holly Rogers. I still remember how nervous I was on the first day at my job as I knew nothing about banking.
But Holly gave me confidence, trained me, and propelled me to become the top performer in the Bank's home lending team that year.
Meanwhile, in 2014, I got married to my lovely wife Shuchi. Two months back in November 2016, our son Mahir was born completing our small family.
My New Zealand dream was finally getting somewhere.
While the ANZ job was paying well, my propensity to aim higher and grow even further struck again.
Being a home lending specialist, I was dealing with people who came to us for help in buying their homes. But there are so many other things in life that people do for which they need money. I wanted to reach that mass.
So on March 31, 2015, I quit my ANZ job, and ventured out on my own becoming a mortgage and insurance adviser.
It was a risky endeavour. Well, any business is. But bigger the risk, bigger the gain, right!
I started the business with only $20.53 in my bank account and was paying my bills using my credit cards. Then after two months, I got my first commission and have not looked back since.
In my first year in business, I was named among the top five rookie mortgage brokers in the country by the Professional Advisers Association. To add to it, I was also one of the finalists for the top mortgage broker’s category. Now as a registered financial adviser, I help home buyers negotiate the best interest rates with banks, which as a home owner myself, gives me immense satisfaction. Just recently, I negotiated a loan rate of 4.69% for one of my clients. The bank was offering him 5.44%. This year, I am looking to expand my team and hire at least two new brokers to look after the expanding business.
But as I said in the beginning, this is not a plug for my services.
I wanted to share my story with all my Kiwi friends as well as fellow migrants, to emphasise on two things.
Firstly, the international students business in New Zealand, for some years now, has become too dicey with too many bad apples. The authorities need to really step up their game on this. There has been some positive steps. Many more are needed, and urgently.
Secondly, to convey that if someone who didn't even know how to speak English properly when he landed in Christchurch eight years back, can succeed with help from some great mentors, and hard work; anyone can. It's about setting high goals, working towards them with discipline, and surrounding yourself with positive people who motivate and propel you forward.
May New Zealand turn out to be as wonderful for you as it has for me now!