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AUGUST 2013 ISSUE 10.16

$4.95 POST APPROVED PP255003/06906



Stop the blame game

Adelaide Bank’s head of lending says lenders should get together to make processes simpler for brokers


delaide Bank head of lending, Damian Percy, has a bone to pick with other lenders: when discussing issues with productivity in the mortgage industry, Percy believes many are all too quick to pin the blame on brokers. FULL STORY PAGE 14

+ NEWS A look at what’s been making headlines P4 MARKET TALK

METRO ROUND-UP Cameron Kusher breaks down the capital city markets P20 WORKSHOP

STRUGGLING TO STAY AFLOAT Why throwing new brokers in the deep end is sure to end in disaster P22 SPOTLIGHT


One CEO argues paying new brokers a salary could breed complacency P26 PEOPLE

TEEING OFF FOR CHARITY A look at Deposit Power’s annual golf day P28






July mortgage settlements

“I think what I can bring to the role [of MFAA president] is a diverse number of experiences and backgrounds” P8

10.99% 14.94% 39.55% 2.74% 3.61% 28.16%


Basic variable rate

Line of credit

Standard variable rate

Introductory rate

Ongoing discount

Fixed rate Source: Mortgage Choice

$30bn* *The recently announced size of the Federal Budget deficit

Source: Roy Morgan Research



“We need to ensure that competition and economic growth is maintained and not suppressed under the new Government” P13

Very comfortable – 35%


Somewhat comfortable – 22%

“Although [home] values are broadly once again rising, it doesn’t mean there aren’t future headwinds for the market”


Neither – 15% Somewhat uncomfortable – 16% Very uncomfortable – 12%


*The proportion of non-homeowners who say owning a home is ‘unrealistic’ Source: Genworth

How Aussies feel about their personal debt



“We train how many thousands of people a year, and only 10% of that will become really good brokers” P22

Source: ME Bank


ING Direct renews broker focus ■ Non-major lender ING Direct has announced it

is changing its mortgage distribution strategy and will be concentrating more on selling loans through brokers and direct channels, rather than through its white label business. At a press conference late last week, ING Direct Australia chief executive, Vaughn Richtor, said the decision was being driven by a desire to see more customers view the bank as their primary financial institution. “In the past our challenge was to build a client base in Australia. Today the opportunity is to grow our primary client numbers.” ING Direct has seen its share of the mortgage market fall from around A$38bn down to A$36bn in the year to June. Richtor said the lender is “still focused on growth”, however this is more focused on the number of products held by its 1.4m customer base. “After launching superannuation last year, we now have four main product streams to offer customers (savings, transactional banking, home loans, super). We want to become our customers’ primary bank.” He said ING Direct continues to grow its branded mortgages distributed through the broker and direct channels, but is becoming ‘more selective’ with white label mortgage manager business partners. “We continue to have strong partners in the white label space but are focused on partners who can help us develop primary bank relationships with our customers,” said Richtor. In terms of what the bank believes it can offer its broker partners, ING head of broker distribution, Mark Woolnough, said they’ve structured their team to give brokers better access to desk-bound and road-based staff. “We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback on this approach and we’ve seen the positive impact ourselves. ING DIRECT values feedback from the broker network, and we have been proactively initiating change for the better.”

Richard Wilkins to MC Australian Mortgage Awards ■ Australia’s number one entertainment

personality, Richard Wilkins, has been confirmed to host this year’s Australian Mortgage Awards. Wilkins will bring a new and unique approach to the role of MC. He has a national profile appropriate to the level of the event as the Australian Mortgage Awards continues to thrive on the support and involvement of the industry’s best. A familiar face on Australian television, Wilkins has had a long career in the entertainment industry, and celebrated a milestone 25 years with Channel Nine last year. The industry is now waiting to hear who will be named a finalist following another record number of nominations. The winners will be revealed on 18 October when the Australian Mortgage Awards are held at The Star for the first time. We look forward to seeing you there.

FIVE FACTS ABOUT RICHARD WILKINS 1. Richard was born in New Zealand 2. His autobiography, Black Ties, Red Carpets, Green Rooms, reached #1 status within three months of being released 3. Reporting live on the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson in June 2009, Wilkins erroneously reported the death of actor Jeff Goldblum on Today. Later in the program, this was verified as a hoax 4. He was the host of Australia’s original MTV series 5. In May 2012, Wilkins started on smoothfm. He is currently the host of weekend mornings (10am-12pm) on smoothfm 91.5 in Melbourne and smooth 95.3 in Sydney

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AFG offers reward for false ‘for sale’ claim perpetrator

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA MAJOR LENDER FORKS OVER HALF-ABILLION IN TOXIC MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT One of the US’ largest banks will shell out more than half-a-billion dollars in a settlement with investors over toxic mortgage assets. A federal district court has finalised a settlement that will see Citigroup pay shareholders $590m over securities backed by sub-prime mortgages. Plaintiffs in the class action alleged that the bank misled investors on sub-prime securities, and that shareholders who bought Citigroup stock between 26 February 2007 and 18 April 2008 paid an inflated price. Judge Sidney Stein said the settlement represented a good outcome for investors, as it avoided the risk of taking the case to trial. “Although the $590m recovery is a fraction of the damages that might have been won at trial, it is substantial and reasonable in light of the risks faced if the action proceeded to trial,” Stein said in his ruling.


A disgraced Canadian mortgage broker in the province of New Brunswick has now been ordered to repay his victims $600,000 and banned from the investment industry for life, an encouraging sign for tougher regulations in the mortgage industry, said the president of the East Coast brokers’ association. Locked up for the past 10 months, William Watson Priest – a mortgage broker in Nackawic – was sentenced to three years in September of 2012 after pleading guilty to nine counts of fraud. “Though is it unfortunate such events took place, we believe it will help to expedite the regulatory process not only for New Brunswick but for all Canadian provinces that lack this,” said Janet McKeough, president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of Atlantic Canada. “Higher standards and increased consumer protection are necessary and positive for our industry.”

■ Mortgage aggregator AFG has once again been forced to tackle false reports that they’re for sale. However, despite offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can name the person – or group of people – responsible, general manager, sales and operations, Mark Hewitt, told Australian Broker the aggregator is still in the dark as to where the rumours are coming from. “We don’t know who’s responsible, we’ve just been having our partners come to us saying that they’re hearing rumours and that’s concerning and creates a lack of stability which we want to refute.” AFG faced similar issues in March last year, when managing director, Brett McKeon, laid the blame for the rumours at the feet of unnamed aggregator competitors, which he accused of “grasping at straws” in competition with AFG. Anyone with information regarding the origin of these rumours is urged to call McKeon directly on (08) 9420 7888. FAST FACT


The size of the award being offered by AFB MD, Brett McKeon, for the identification of the person(s) involved in spreading false ‘for sale’ rumours about the company

BIG FOUR SATISFACTION RATES REACH 18-YEAR HIGHS ■ Major bank customer satisfaction rates have reached an 18-year high, largely

thanks to home loan customers, according to Roy Morgan research. In June 2013, consumer satisfaction with the big four banks increased to 79.5%, up from 76.0% in June 2012. Roy Morgan said the improvement of 3.5% was largely due to a 5.5% increase in the satisfaction level of the big four’s home loan customers, which the group said “was to be expected” given the number of declines in the official cash rate over this period. Despite the drop in the home loan rate over the year, however, it is somewhat surprising that the home loan customers of each of the major banks have lower levels of satisfaction compared to non-home loan customers. “The satisfaction with banks among their personal customers is at historically high levels and is obviously a result of a concerted effort to improve, combined with low interest rates,” said Roy Morgan industry communications director, Norman Morris.

ASIC concerns lead to YBR licensing restructure ■ ASIC concerns have

prompted Yellow Brick Road (YBR) to change the way it authorises companies and individuals to offer loan advice through branches operated under its Australian credit licence. YBR has directly authorised more than 100 individuals working in its branches as credit representatives. However, ASIC said the national credit licensing framework also required YBR to authorise the companies which operate the branches because the companies also act as intermediaries between the licensee and the consumer. The regulator says YBR has been cooperative in responding to the issue and said it’s important for all credit licensees to carefully consider how each party they deal with is authorised or licensed.

AUSSIE JOHN HONOURED ■ Aussie Home Loans founder

John Symond has been awarded the 2013 Gold Harold Humanitarian at the sixth annual Gold Harold Awards, in Sydney, for his ongoing philanthropic interest in children’s causes and charities. An Aussie spokesperson said the Gold Harold Awards are hosted by Life Education, the largest non-government provider of health education to children and young people in Australia. “It recognises and honours individuals and organisations who have contributed in a meaningful way to the healthy development of Australia’s children.” Symond said he was “humbled” by the award. “I…applaud the work of the tireless team at Life Education whose programs tie in perfectly with my philosophy that no child should be disadvantaged through no fault of their own,” he said. “It was from this simple belief that I decided to focus a significant part of my philanthropic efforts on helping children. To be recognised for this work is an unexpected bonus.”



MFAA announces new president

FBAA CONFERENCE SPEAKERS REVEALED ■ The FBAA has named a handful of key note speakers confirmed for their

innovative free conference on 8 November at Sea World in Queensland. FBAA conference organiser, Leah Renwick, said the event was purposely scheduled on a Friday so that brokers and other attendees might be encouraged to bring their families and enjoy some vacation time on the Gold Coast. Key speakers are to include Teamcorp director, Tony Wilson, David Carson from Compliance One and Greg Rodgers from law firm Rodgers Barns & Green, as well as others which are still being confirmed. “[Wilson’s] doing ‘truly motivated teams’,” said Renwick. “So he’s basically coming in and getting people to understand their teams, high performance, the cost of it physically and business-wise…because a lot of brokers forget that they need work/life balance! “David Carson will basically be there to educate brokers on compliance and to help companies become compliant,” she added, while Greg Rodgers will be discussing compliance issues from a legal perspective. “Greg Rodgers is talking about compliance and the law, breeches of the code, new privacy changes and responsible credit reporting changes coming into effect next year – it’s just going to cause a mess! Greg’s basically going through the legal compliance side of things. If there’s a breech and you’re not under the right ACL… he’s coming in to advise the best practice for fixing that. He’s given up his day for free, which is pretty amazing.”

■ The MFAA has



The number of brokers expelled by the MFAA in 2012/13, a 50% decrease on the previous year Source: MFAA

Real estate group launches finance arm ■ RE/MAX Australia has recently launched Australian Property

Finance (APF), its new finance arm, following the June announcement of a RE/MAX Australia and Vow Financial joint venture. Under the joint venture, finance brokers will trade as APF and work with the RE/MAX agents to write a full range of financial services for home buyers. Newly appointed CEO, Nathan Swain, APF is not relying solely on the Vow Financial network for finance brokers and is keen to recruit experienced brokers from elsewhere. APF services span insurance, wealth creation, legals and leasing. Finance brokers will advise new and refinancing borrowers on commercial, residential and personal loans. There are plans to have at least a dozen APF finance brokers aligned with RE/MAX franchises by the end of the year. Tim Brown, CEO of Vow Financial, said the benefits of the joint venture are two-fold. “Firstly, RE/MAX franchises are predominately based in Queensland and this is an area that Vow really wants to grow into. In addition, the joint venture will provide brokers with a new source of business leads.”

announced Tim Brown, current CEO of Vow Financial, as its new president-elect. Brown, who officially takes over the role at the MFAA’s AGM in November, told Australian Broker he’s looking forward to the opportunity. “I know the role has its TIM BROWN challenges, but I’m committed to the industry and I want to do everything possible to see it grow and evolve.” Brown has worked as a broker himself in the past, as well as in the lending business and as head of an aggregator – experiences which he believes will serve him well in his new role. “I’ve been in the industry for a long time – probably too long, actually, that’s why I’ve got the grey hair! But I think it was a point in my life where I thought it was time to give back to the industry and I really felt that I could make a difference. “I’ve been a broker… I’ve been a lender, so I’ve seen the lenders’ perspective. I’ve also been an aggregator. So I think what I can bring to the role is a diverse number of experiences and backgrounds. Also, I’ve lived up and down the east coast of Australia [and] I’ve traversed most of the countryside, so not only can I bring the experience, but I can also bring the demographic and geographic knowledge as well. So hopefully that will hold me in good stead as the years go.”




ABA blasts deposit levy

Non-majors grabbing market share

■ The Australian Bankers’

■ More than one in four home loans processed last month were for non-major lenders,

Association (ABA) continues to argue that the establishment of the bank savings levy is “unnecessary” and will have an “adverse impact on banks’ depositors”. However, proponents argue the so-called ‘Financial Stability Fund’ is fair and serves as a precautionary protection for bank customers. Steven Münchenberg, CEO of the ABA, said the banking industry wants to see the Federal Government reconsider its decision and would like to see the Coalition rule out the fund should it win the election in September. “At a minimum, this fund should not be introduced unless it is considered as part of a broad ranging inquiry into the financial services sector,” said Münchenberg. The ABA also believes that taxing savers to create a fund is unnecessary. “The Australian banking system is very safe. This was proven during the global financial crisis, when our banking sector coped well with the strains of that very difficult period, unlike banks overseas which failed or had to be bailed out by their governments… In Australia, no depositor has suffered from a bank failure since the 1890s.”


according to AFG. This is the highest figure recorded since the broker group began reporting competitor trends in 2010. The latest AFG Mortgage Index, published yesterday, shows that non-major lenders have increased their collective share of home loans from 20.7% in March to 26.4% in July. “This figure may seem unexceptional by international standards,” said Mark Hewitt, general manager of Sales and Operations. “But in Australia, more than 90% of all home loans are with only four lenders and their subsidiaries. “To be seeing competition at this level is encouraging because it offers greater choice and helps keep rates down, both of which are good news for borrowers.” Non-major lenders have grown market share among borrowers looking to refinance and among investors, while maintaining their stronger market share among first homebuyers. AFG processed over $3.4bn worth of mortgages last month – an increase of 25% over July 2012. July is traditionally a quieter month for mortgages than August and last month’s strong figure reflects reports of active property markets over the winter. However, there is no sign of overheating in the mortgage data. The average new home loan last month was $401k, the same figure as last December – and LVRs remain steady on 68%. Fixed home loans comprised 29% of all home loans processed by AFG, not far off the all-time high of 30.7% recorded in April this year. – MARK HEWITT




Non-majors 31.8%


Non-majors 28.1%


Non-majors 75.2%

■ A former mortgage broker has pleaded guilty to six

charges, including making false statements and providing false documents to lenders to secure approvals for home loans totalling almost $7.5m. Hee Seng Lee, 58, of Dural NSW, submitted the loan applications between April 2006 and March 2011. The 12 applications related to loans ranging from $160,000 to $1.5m and included applications that were in his name. The false statements related to the income and/ or employment of the applicant and the false documents included payslips, taxation returns and notices of assessment purportedly issued by the ATO. At the time of the offences, Lee was a director of A&H Vision Mortgage Group Pty Ltd which traded as H Lee’s Finance Co and Loan Care & Co. ASIC cancelled A&H Vision’s Australian Credit Licence on 3 January 2012.

Majors 68.2%

Majors 71.9%

Majors 24.8% Source: AFG




As the federal election approaches, industry associations are not shy about making their opinions known


he federal election is fast approaching, and the mortgage industry is ramping up its lobbying efforts accordingly. Amid the drone of political attack ads and party stump speeches, mortgage associations and housing lobbies are trying to make themselves heard. Not content with meekly calling for issues to be addressed, both the MFAA and the HIA have issued a list of demands.


The MFAA says it has issued a list of election demands to the Labor Party, the Greens and the Coalition. These include a call for the new federal government to launch an enquiry into the finance sector, with particular focus on the growing dominance of the major lenders, which the MFAA says is leading to the departure of small and innovative lenders from the market. In particular, the association takes umbrage with the “ill-conceived” ban on exit fees, which it claims has ultimately strengthened the position of major banks while hurting smaller players. While the group also expresses its continued support for the NCCP, it says it is concerned that there “seems to be an undercurrent of more and more legislation to further regulate a now well-regulated” sector. “We are concerned that future attempts to regulate the providers (lenders) and recommenders

(brokers) of finance for small business will simply make it more difficult for small businesses to access finance,” reads the submission. Small-business finance is also an area of concern that the association has highlighted. FBAA president Peter White recently warned brokers to remain vigilant, suggesting the regulation of business finance could be pushed through by future governments. The MFAA has formally sought an assurance from the Liberal, Labor and Green parties that a new government “would not seek to regulate small business finance”, and asked that proposals to regulate investment and private lending be similarly shelved. Moreover, the MFAA has asked that mortgage brokers be given a reprieve after the raft of regulation over the past few years. It has asked that any further NCCP amendments to regulate the industry should not be entertained until at least 2016. The association also took aim at further tightening in respect of other “banned” terms under the NCCP, including the words ‘independent’, impartial’, ‘unbiased’ and ‘free’, which it claims is having unintended negative consequences for the industry. “We believe that businesses are being unduly stultified in their operations and promotions by the extended-by-interpretation banning of the use of certain words under the NCCP,” says the MFAA. “We will follow up our submissions with each of the major parties during the election campaign, as we need to ensure that competition and economic growth is maintained and not suppressed under the new government,” MFAA CEO Phil Naylor says.


The HIA has put forward its own list of demands, and has called for housing to be at the top of the


WHAT THE MFAA WANTS Assurance that small-business lending won’t be brought under the NCCP Shelving of proposals to regulate investment and private lending Easing of restrictions on terms like ‘independent’, ‘unbiased’ and ‘impartial’ Greater oversight of EDR schemes to ensure they aren’t biased towards consumers A ‘root and branch’ enquiry into the finance sector

WHAT THE HIA WANTS Reform of the taxation system, including the removal of ‘inefficient’ taxes on new housing Reduction of ‘red’ and ‘green’ tape Improved funding mechanisms for residential-related infrastructure Better access to finance for home buyers and builders Modernisation of the industrial relations system

agenda, regardless of who wins power. “Residential building is one of the few sectors in a position to generate substantial economic activity in the wake of the mining boom,” says HIA managing director Shane Goodwin. “New home building has a significant multiplier effect that drives activity throughout the wider economy.” Goodwin says that, with a 1% productivity increase in new home building – either through cutting “red tape” or modernising the taxation system – the wider economy would benefit by around $1b.


“Australia is currently building around 25,000 homes per year less than a decade ago, which is not only putting the brakes on job creation in the sector but placing upward pressure on housing prices. Housing affordability is consistently being nominated as one of the top few issues on the minds of voters, and there is clearly a great deal of angst amongst Australians about how the current and future generations will be able to afford a home.”



Damian Percy:

Stop the blame game Adelaide Bank’s head of lending says lenders should get together to make processes simpler for brokers




here are a lot of lenders who are very vocal about the importance of productivity from brokers…[but] I think one of the issues is the level of efficiency and productivity across the sector. I personally get a little irritated with people continuing to claim that productivity and efficiency in our sector is exclusively a broker issue. “We have 25 lenders who, as yet, seem incapable of getting together and agreeing to relatively standard procedures which could actually reduce the complexity both for brokers and for lenders – and for insurers’ valuers.” Percy believes a “systemic shift” is taking place around lending growth in Australia. He also doesn’t expect a return to the pre-GFC glory days of double-digit credit growth – but, in a way, that may not be such a bad thing. “The big issue is this kind of systemic shift around the rate of growth of the market that we’re in. If you go to the pre-GFC period, when the broker market evolved, you had credit growth almost always in the double-digits and up to 20%. So the market was growing at a prodigious rate… Obviously, that’s changed.” He says many people believe the GFC was a temporary hiccup; that, for a brief period, people were being more conservative, but that they’ll quickly ‘giddy-up’ and return to the borrowing levels seen previously. However, he believes the borrowing we saw in the decade leading up to the GFC was the aberration, and that what we’re seeing now is a far more modest and ongoing approach to credit appetite. “This new normal, where instead of credit growth growing at 15%, it’s growing at 5% – that means that there’s a smaller pie [for brokers] in relative terms. So the whole ‘new normal’ is, I think, a systemic shift over the last five or six years and will probably last for another five or six. I certainly don’t see Australians en masse fronting up in six weeks’ time and saying they’re happy to get back to the aggressive approach we saw pre-GFC. People are paying down their debts and seem to be quite enjoying the feeling.”


In essence, he says, this shift means that, yes, brokers need to be more efficient and more active in going out and meeting clients, but the onus should not be on brokers alone. “In the context of a pie that’s not growing as fast, and in the context of consumers who are better educated, we are all better off if we can strip cost complexity and the risk of error out of the system as a whole, rather than continuing to focus on just trying to drive cost complexity errors out of our little piece of it.” Percy believes this is quite possibly one of the greatest opportunities missed over the past few years in the mortgage sector. “There’s simply not enough standardisation at the front end, and I think that’s where the great productivity gains can come from. The various parties in the industry need to think more broadly and more collectively than they have up until now.” He adds that brokers currently have to deal with 25 lenders conducting business in 25 different ways, and for no apparent reason. “There is more complexity, there is more regulation, and yet relatively simple things that probably aren’t a great competitive differentiator between lenders remain different for no other reason than an individual lender thinking their slightly different version of the world is better than a competitor’s – and it’s silly.” Percy urges critics to consider other sectors, such as those in the UK and the US, where there’s enough commonality around the front end for brokers to be “reasonably confident” that a particular approach for lender A will work for lender B. “That simplicity removes cost for everybody. I think that’s crucial for keeping the economics of this sector sound.” As for his own employer, Percy says Adelaide Bank is “quite happy” to align itself with industry practice, so long as there is such a thing. “It reduces error, and that’s good for everybody. At the moment, largely because there is such slow credit growth, there’s not a great appetite for


lenders to try and work in that collegiate way. Everybody’s got big machines to feed. But I’d like to think, over time, the economics of the situation [will make] lenders realise there are efficiencies for everybody and it won’t lessen the competition if we start doing things that work for everybody.” For the time being, he says, all Adelaide Bank can do as a business is continue to make the case that “complexity is our enemy; variation is our enemy”. “It’s the great paradox, isn’t it? Everybody agrees. It’s like public transport; everybody agrees that public transport is a great thing, but everybody wants to drive their own car. This isn’t rocket science, and it need not be as complex as it is. Consumers are paying for it, and it makes the rest of our lives more difficult. For those of us, like me, who would much prefer performing a task in six steps rather than in 16, it’s frustrating that, as an industry, we haven’t gotten our heads around it yet.” In essence, says Percy, one issue has highlighted another: slow credit growth means time must be spent more effectively. “We have this new normal of consumers who are comfortable with lower levels of debt than they have been historically, and that’s quite a change for us as a market. That creates pressure; that creates the need for us as an industry to make sure that we’re not wasting time. And I think that this is a great opportunity for us to eliminate unnecessary cost and complexity, if we can work better together.”



Broking in the ’burbs A former contestant on The Apprentice finds broking to be his true calling


ellow Brick Road (YBR) Willoughby franchise manager Blake Chandler took a slightly more glamorous route into broking than most – he started out as a contestant on Mark Bouris’s The Apprentice before realising his true calling. “I was one of the first contestants on The Apprentice. I met Mark through this really unique experience, and [when I decided to become a broker] it made sense to go through someone I knew and trusted when I started my own broking business.” Chandler says he’s always had a passion for property, having purchased his first house at age 21, and that it was really only a matter of time before he left his job as a call centre manager and started up his branch of YBR. “I’ve always loved property and investing in property. I got my first property at 21 and I’ve now got a portfolio of eight. After about 10 years – I had a friend who happened to work for Key Media at the time – it was like a

light bulb went off. Imagine being able to help people for a living? I enjoy property and I enjoy investing, so it was a natural decision.” Chandler, who’s lived in Willoughby for much of his life, says he enjoys the suburb and its location relatively close to Sydney’s CBD. “There are lots of families starting out here. It’s in the ‘burbs’, but it’s close to town and there’s plenty of public transport and lots of schools for the kids.” Despite the fact that Willoughby has a large Chinese population, Chandler says he’s opted not to specifically target that market for fear of not being able to follow through. “I specifically haven’t tried, because for me there’s no use targeting another group unless you have a full plan. You could advertise to them, but do you have a person who would be able to speak Mandarin when they come in? If someone’s reading a Chinese ad, are they going to speak to me? I don’t think we should jump in … for me, people

PEOPLE NEED TO SPEND A BIT OF TIME ON THE BIG PICTURE – BLAKE CHANDLER need to spend a bit of time on the big picture.” When it came to starting his own broking business, Chandler had it tougher than most, though you wouldn’t know it from his enthusiastic attitude. “I’ve got my fourth little baby on the way in December. It’s going to be heads down and into it and don’t give up, but if someone does it with three and a bit kids, you can do it too!”



State of the cities RP Data’s Cameron Kusher takes a city-by-city look at the housing market


ver the 2012/13 financial year the national housing market was reinvigorated, mainly due to the increasingly low mortgage rate environment. Over this period, combined capital city home values increased by 3.8% compared to a -3.6% fall in values over the previous financial year. Although values are once again broadly rising, it doesn’t mean there aren’t future headwinds for the market. The housing market has responded quite positively, to date, to the low mortgage rate environment; whether the current rising values are sustainable remains to be seen. Although mortgage rates are low, the unemployment rate is edging higher as job creation slows, households continue to save at levels not seen since the late 1980s, credit growth is at close to record low levels, and economic growth is below trend. All of these factors combined – along with the declining terms of trade and a domestic economy that is transitioning away from a mining investment boom – indicate that the current resurgent conditions aren’t necessarily a safe bet. As always, the performance of the capital city housing market has been varied over the past year. Hobart was the only capital city to record a fall in values (-1.8%), with value growth at moderate levels in Adelaide (0.2%), Brisbane (0.6%) and Canberra (1.1%). On the other hand, growth in residential property values has been comparatively strong and has beaten inflation in Darwin (6.1%), Perth (6.0%), Sydney (5.6%) and Melbourne (3.4%). The sustainability of the recent recovery also appears to vary on a city-by-city basis.

BY THE NUMBERS... A look at how the capitals performed last quarter

Best-performing capital city PERTH (4.4%)


Home values have increased by 5.6% over the past year. However, values have increased at a miserly average annual rate of just 2.5% over the past 10 years. With low value growth, limited new housing construction and ongoing population growth, we would expect value growth to continue in Sydney.


The Reserve Bank felt it necessary to warn about the prospects of the city’s inner-city unit and fringe housing market earlier this year. Outside of value corrections in 2008 and 2011/12, Melbourne home values have continued to increase since 1996. With fairly sufficient new construction and average annual value growth of 8.4% over the past 15 years, the Melbourne markets current growth trajectory looks less sustainable over the coming years.

Highest rental yields: DARWIN HOUSES (6.2%)

Worst-performing capital city: ADELAIDE (-3.1%)

Lowest rental yields: MELBOURNE HOUSES (3.6%) Source: RP Data

Most expensive city: SYDNEY (median dwelling price of $570,000)

Most affordable city: HOBART (median dwelling price of $305,000)





































All capitals





Source: RP Data


Value growth over the past year has been limited, at just 0.6%. In fact, Brisbane home values currently sit at a similar level to what they were at in late 2007. The pricing gap between Brisbane and the southern capitals continues to grow, while new supply remains insufficient, suggesting the housing market’s recovery may gather momentum over the coming year.


Home value growth has led all capital cities over the past year at 6.1%, while the city enjoys the highest gross rental yields among all capital cities. Despite the surging values, as the resources sector has slowed there has been a slowdown in rental growth, and home values have actually fallen by -0.4% in 2013. The recent slowdown likely foreshadows further slowing of market conditions.


The market recovery has been moderate to date, with values up just 0.2% over the past year. A low labour force participation rate and a slowing mining and manufacturing sector will probably contain any breakout in value growth over the coming year.


The Perth housing market has been a significant benefactor of the mining boom and associated population growth. Although until recently there was very little growth in home values, rental growth was booming. As value growth has picked up over the past year, we have seen rental growth stall over the past six months. With the mining sector slowing, this may adversely affect the Perth housing market, which may in turn create headwinds for Perth home values.



Home values fell by -1.8% over the past year, and the market continues to suffer due to a low rate of population growth, flat to falling rental conditions, low economic growth, and the nation’s highest unemployment rate. None of these conditions look set to change in the short term.

Values across the nation’s capital have increased by just 1.1% over the 2012/13 financial year and rental rates have fallen. With the potential for job cuts after the federal election in the public sector, this will undoubtedly impact on demand for Canberra housing and therefore potentially lead to softer housing market conditions. Overall, low mortgage rates have facilitated the growth in home values, and most indicators suggest that interest rates will remain at similar or lower levels for at least the next 18 months. With economic growth below trend, a slowing Chinese economy, both political parties focusing on returning to surpluses, and unemployment tipped to rise, the housing market isn’t likely to respond to the lower mortgage rate environment in the way it did back in 2009. What is more likely is that a measured rate of recovery will continue, with dwelling values broadly rising in line with wages.


Drowning in the deep end New mortgage brokers are struggling with the ‘fear of being found out’ because the current system ‘throws them in the deep end’, says business author, ex-broker and National Finance Institute trainer Peter Heinrich


uch has been made of the need for young blood in mortgage broking. But even if the industry can manage to attract new talent, how can rookie brokers navigate the lending landscape without risking an early burnout? From the older system of starting as a lending assistant and being monitored for a period of 4-5 years, brokers are now going into the field with little to no support, says National Finance Institute trainer Peter Heinrich. Business owners are pushing new brokers to start writing loans with only the basic accreditations because of a reluctance to employ brokers who aren’t making good money from the outset, he says. “The number one thing that people always speak to me about is ‘How can we get them on to the field quicker?’, because the fear is that they’ve put them on, they’re paying for them, but they’re not being productive. My argument is that cutting back on that learning time is actually false economy.” In his newly revised book The Mortgage Marketing Handbook, Heinrich looks at survey responses from brokers exiting the industry. Of those who quit mortgage broking before writing their 10th loan, a leading reason for doing so was the pressure they felt to get in front of clients before they had the confidence or the knowledge to do the job well. “They’re probably getting leads, but what they do is they avoid them because they’re scared they’re going to be found out; that they’re going to get in front of a client and not be comfortable with the technology or the products so they won’t sell.” The adage of throwing new entrants into the deep end has no basis in reality, says Heinrich.


“They say if you throw them in the deep end they’ll learn to swim – no they don’t, they drown! Whenever I’ve seen that happen people have got

to jump in and save the person, and that’s exactly the same with mortgage broking.” Heinrich recounts the story of a highly successful mortgage broker who once called him for advice on how to cope with her more than 850 clients. “She rang me up and said ‘Help! I’m drowning, I can’t keep up with it’ and I told her she needed to get a really good assistant. She said ‘Oh, I’ve had heaps of them, they’re all bloody useless’.” When he followed up her past assistants to find out what the problem was, he found three out of the four had gone on to be successful brokers in their own right – the problem was, says Heinrich, the broker wasn’t prepared to put in the time to train them. “She would come back from an interview and drop a file on the desk and say ‘fix that up’, and they had no idea what she wanted them to do.

THERE’S MORE TO BROKING THAN JUST BEING A REALLY NICE PERSON AND GOING OUT AND MEETING PEOPLE AND WRITING A HOME LOAN - P ETER HEINRICH After a while she’d end up screaming at them because they were ‘useless’, but they weren’t, they just weren’t shown what to do.” Some of the problem stems from brokers being constantly pressed for time, and some from the fact that brokers have forgotten what’s it’s like to be new, he says. “It’s never going to work if you say ‘I’m successful, I’m writing lots of loans, so should you’. You have to show them what it is that made you successful. If somebody says ‘I got by’, it was sheer


KEY TAKEAWAYS • Remember that even though you’re experienced with lending, new entrants aren’t. Tasks you take for granted may need a thorough explanation • Don’t take on new staff if you can’t devote the time to training them • New brokers who have burned out quickly often say they were put in front of clients before they had the knowledge or confidence to do their job well • A structured training approach will give new entrants a better opportunity for success than ad-hoc on-the-job training

luck, you need to take a more structured approach and actually train the people.”


The best firms are taking on new brokers and letting them work under their best brokers for a number of months, he says. “And they don’t see it as a chore, they see it as necessary. If you want that person to write a lot of loans they have to have that knowledge.” Heinrich is a firm believer that the industry needs new blood, and says the onus is on the large aggregator groups to implement a kind of apprenticeship scheme. Thankfully, a number of new initiatives are being launched to train rookie brokers in a structured environment. The MFAA’s mentoring and Diploma requirements and the FBAA’s apprenticeship program are designed to provide a clear career path for new-to-industry brokers. Heinrich says such initiatives are a step in the right direction. “A lot of people complain about the diploma, but the point that the MFAA was trying to make is there’s more to broking than just being a really nice person and going out and meeting people and writing a home loan.” Heinrich is a firm believer that the industry needs new blood, and says the onus is on the large aggregator groups to implement a kind of apprenticeship scheme. A system whereby new brokers shadow successful brokers for a short period of time, assisting with loans and earning a salary, and then are gradually phased into earning commission and writing their own loans, would support new brokers and lower failure rates, he says. “We train how many thousands of people a year, and only 10% of that will become really good brokers, and that’s a shame because they’ve got the right attitude in the first place, they just need to find someone who’s prepared to put the time into them and help them.”



Consumers resent insurance broker fees, CEO says


iven the intensity of the fee-for-service debate in the mortgage broking industry, it could be interesting to examine how consumers view fees charged by insurance brokers. The public’s negative perception of insurance brokers may be influenced by the fact that consumers resent paying fees for advice, according to a leading insurance head. This view was offered up by Zurich CEO Daniel Fogarty at the recent ANZIIF Claims Convention in Sydney, who defended brokers when a delegate criticised them for failing to provide the right cover. When the delegate asked Fogarty why brokers had a poor public image, he said: “Perhaps people don’t always trust brokers because they don’t want to pay a fee for advice.” The delegate responded that brokers did not always provide their clients with adequate cover. Fogarty admitted there had been some “PI [professional indemnity] issues” during the Brisbane floods, but added that the industry got it right most of the time”. He said the wider issue was the reputation of the entire insurance industry. “It’s the reputation of the industry, not just insurance brokers. But they are at the sales

Survey: Clients don’t understand planner independence



17% end. People don’t trust our industry until they have a claim.” The insurance industry can use the claims process to enhance its reputation and address the skills shortage, Fogarty explained. “It’s all about being prepared and knowing that our suppliers will turn up and manage the claims process. We have to make sure we have the right people at the right place at the right time. “When people take out a policy, they think about the price, but when they [have a claim], it can be a potentially life-impacting event.”

Trade credit insurance claims rose by nearly 17% in the last three months due to rising levels of overdue payments Source: National Credit Insurance

oy Morgan has discovered how unaware clients are of their financial planners’ ‘independent’ status. According to the organisation’s latest singlesource survey, clients find independence confusing, particularly when the planner is branded differently to the major fund manager that owns the planning group. For example, 51% of the clients using Financial Wisdom (owned by Commonwealth Bank) consider it to be independent, which is well ahead of the 21% who consider Commonwealth Bank-branded planners to be independent. This was the same across all the major banks. Almost half (48%) of clients perceived NAB’s Godfrey Pembroke to be independent. RetireInvest (owned by ANZ) was considered independent by 37% of clients, and Westpac’s St George was perceived as independent by 23% of clients. Planners labelled as belonging to the major banks were generally understood to be aligned, with only 7% believing Westpac planners were independent, 13% for ANZ, 15% for NAB, and 21% for Commonwealth Bank.



abor recently announced both a freeze on super changes and then an increase in the threshold below which inactive superannuation accounts are handed over to the ATO (worth $582m). The threshold will increase to $4,000 in December 2015 and $6,000 in December 2016. Shadow treasurer Senator Mathias Cormann denounced the change, saying it was on top of a similar $555m cash grab 10 months ago. “In October 2012 the government used a super cash grab as part of their dishonest campaign, claiming they would be able to deliver a budget surplus in 2012–13,” he said in a statement. “That promise is now long gone, but the government can’t help itself in going back to the superannuation pot for even more money.” Financial Services Council CEO John Brogden said the measure was unfair and out of step with recent reforms to super. “This government’s own SuperStream reforms have made it easier to bring accounts together,” he said. “It will unfairly capture the savings of many young and low incomes in particular.”



Salaries breed laziness in young brokers, says CEO

What a difference a year makes … or not. Australian Broker reflects on the punditry, news and Amid the debate over enticing influential trends that made headlines new brokers with salaries, one 12 months ago Australian Broker Issue 9.16 industry leader says it could encourage complacency

AFG sees banner month

Last year AFG saw its strongest July in five years, which the aggregator put down to a “powerful cocktail of incentives” enticing first home buyers back to the market. The company processed $2.7bn in mortgages for the month, its biggest July since 2007. “Low interest rates, soft property prices and escalating rents create a powerful cocktail of incentives to get people into the property market,” general manager of sales and operations Mark Hewitt said at the time.

What’s happened since? This year, a “powerful cocktail of incentives” must have been even more potent, because the aggregator saw a 25% year-on-year spike to $3.4bn. But it was refinancers and property investors who led the charge in 2013, with first home buyers falling to 11.6% of the market.

Leedham takes MFAA reins

As Steve Kane resigned the presidency of the MFAA last year to focus on his role with Advantedge, incoming president Martin Leedham said he would focus on re-engaging with the association’s members. “We have to remember that this is a big organisation – we have 11,000 members – so we need to communicate with our members, and get them understanding what we do and why we do it,” he said.

What’s happened since? Member engagement remains high on the agenda as president-elect Tim Brown of Vow prepares to take on his role at the MFAA in November. Brown has said his varied professional experience will enable him to understand the challenges facing the industry. “I’ve been a broker ... I’ve been a lender, so I’ve seen the lender’s perspective. I’ve also been an aggregator. So I think what I can bring to the role is a diverse number of experiences and backgrounds.”


ffering young brokers a starting salary doesn’t work, according to Outsource Financial CEO Tanya Sale, because it encourages complacency. “Sometimes it can breed laziness … because they don’t have to do anything; they don’t have to go out and hunt for their own loans, because they know that that money’s going to be in their bank account every fortnight. This industry is known to be self-employed, and it’s known to be commission. If someone wants a salary in that lending landscape, go and work for a bank.” Sale says that when some of Outsource Financial’s affiliate groups trialled paying new brokers, the results were not productive and left employers working harder themselves, as well as being out of pocket. “A couple of our larger groups decided to go down that path to attract some newbies into the industry, and it ended in tears… What happened was, they employed someone, [paid them a] salary, even supported them on a lead-generation side, and the individual, they just didn’t have that fire in their belly. They had no desire to go out and really drive and look for new business. You know why? Because they were getting a salary. So some of our groups went back, saying, ‘OK, we’ll give you commission only, but we’ll also assist you in the lead side’. And that’s worked an absolute treat.” Finally, Sale believes wholeheartedly that the industry needs new blood, but she thinks there will be struggles to find a model that works outside of the existing one. “This industry really needs, I believe, a bit of ‘oomph’ from the new entrants side of things. Then I think: maybe a small retainer might do the trick? But you don’t want them to lose that hunger, but then you have to put targets into place. So then that falls back on the manager or the owner of that business to make sure that they’re accountable – because don’t rely on the newbie to drive it. It’s just not going to happen.”


ABA up in arms over deposit levy A levy that would protect depositors in the case of a bank collapse has been blasted by the ABA

Salaries breed laziness

Outsource Financial CEO Tanya Sale told Australian Broker that paying salaries to new brokers could breed complacency. One commenter said a hybrid model could give new entrants the best of both worlds: “Why can’t you look at a model where a retainer of say $4k a month is paid to new entrants? Each month the first $4k of up front commission is clawed back by the employer and the rest paid to the loan writer. To ensure that they have an incentive to go out and actively obtain business a realistic sales target (basically enough to claw back retainer) can be included in the employment contract. If the loan writer is successful and has established a pipeline then they can opt out and go to commission only. Likewise if performance targets are not met the employer can opt out of retainer and revert back to commission only.” Philthyo on 1/08/2013 10:45AM What do you think? Leave your comments at brokernews.


teven Münchenberg, CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association, has said the banking industry wants to see the federal government reconsider its decision to establish a levy to protect depositors, arguing that Australia hasn’t experienced a bank failure since the 1890s. Larry Terrance was kind enough to point out that Münchenberg’s timeline – while technically accurate – didn’t tell the full story. “The State Bank of Victoria would have failed if not taken over by CBA. That was not 1890.” Sydney Broker accused Münchenberg of some misplaced whinging as the banks had benefited from government guarantees in the past. “Cry me a river, Steven. The banks survived because of taxpayer backing and should be held to account. The biggest stuff up of all is that the government should have imposed conditions at the time. Not now. The banks are posting record profits on the back


Vow’s Tim Brown has been elected president of the MFAA. The industry gave Brown its vote of confidence. Janelle Rayner on 2/08/2013 10:26AM “The MFAA is in good hands. Well done Tim!”

Paul Eldridge on 2/08/2013 7:33AM “Congratulations Tim. Well deserved. I am sure you will make a great contribution.” Stephen Dinte on 1/08/2013 11:00AM “I am certain that Tim will be excellent for the MFAA. He has taken Vow forward over the last few years and will undoubtedly do the same for our association. Congratulations and best of luck to him.”

of taxpayers, have failed to pass on rate cuts to borrowers and also heavily reduced commissions to brokers.” Meanwhile, Papery yearned for the banking days of yore. “Let’s just go back to the good old days when everyone hid their money under their mattress, withdrawing from the bank as fast as a direct credit could be processed. Maybe we just need to keep up with the likes of the banking systems in, say, Greece, Cyprus the U.S.”



FBAA president Peter White warned the industry to beware of future efforts to apply the NCCP to business credit.

Casey on 30/07/2013 11:33AM “Why do government departments insist on getting involved and creating control points in areas of business they don’t even understand?” Paul on 30/07/2013 10:15AM “It simply won’t work, their one size fits all approach does not work with business applications. It will mean hours of extra paperwork for nothing and will definitely restrict credit for small businesses.”


Deposit Power hits the links


eposit Power hosted over 70 Queensland brokers and lenders at their Golf Day on 17th July at the magnificent Emerald Lakes course on the Gold Coast. Fine weather greeted players for the Ambrose event which was eventually won by the team from AFG. Highlight of the day was the hole in one by Peter Kelly from AFG at the 5th hole. Deposit Power also used the opportunity to raise funds for The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA’s cancer treatment centre by offering players a second chance hit at the 17th hole and accepting donations. “Thankfully most players needed a second or third hit to reach the green so we were able to raise much needed funds through the misfortune and generosity of the players,” advised Deposit Powers general manager Keith Levy.   In the end, participants raised $1,500 for the charity. Levy says Deposit Power has raised more than $50,000 for The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at RPA over the past three years.

Mortgage Choice stumps up for charity Mortgage Choice has announced that, since October 2011, it has raised over $270,000 in support of charity partner Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Most recently, the company’s mortgage broking and financial planning franchise networks, staff and lender panel members amiably outbid each other in support of RMHC during a charity auction at the recent Mortgage Choice 2013 National Conference in Alice Springs. This fundraising event alone resulted in the company raising close to $56,000, in addition to the $217,000 already raised through a series of fundraising initiatives including state based events, franchisee and staff initiated sponsorships activities, salary sacrificing and donations per loan settled. “I am constantly overwhelmed by the community spirit and generosity of our franchisees and their teams, company staff and our business partners,” says Mortgage Choice CEO, Michael Russell. “The donation raised at this year’s National Conference is staggering and wouldn’t have been achieved if it weren’t for the additional contribution of those within our network who have donated more than funds, by offering auction items as well as their time to the cause.” Russell says the group’s total donation to date of more than $270,000 equates to nearly 2,045 nights of accommodation at a Ronald McDonald House for Australian families with a seriously ill child.


Team AFG (Don Hogden, Jason Stewart, Callum McNeill, Glenn Mills)


Team Connective (Ali Becirevic, Bryan Wiig, Adem Becirevic, John McCormack)


Team Suncorp (Michael Hall, Cameron Meteyard, Chris Jones, Bernie Sheehan)




FG recently held its annual awards luncheon at Sydney’s Doltone House. Brokers had the chance to mingle with AFG staff and their industry peers as the aggregator honoured its top performers. Photography by Simon Kerslake




Mind your lunchtime manners


o smelly food, no crumbs on the floor, and wipe up after yourself – your mother doesn’t work here! The kitchen has long been a battlefield for co-workers, but now one modern Emily Post has set down the definitive rules for workplace meals. “The well-known Boy Scout rule to leave the campsite cleaner than the way you found it can and indeed should be applied to office kitchen sinks and counters,” said Mary Mitchell, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Modern Manners Fast-Track. “Whether it’s your desk, the office refrigerator, the coffeepot, the counter, the sink, or the floor: if you spill something, clean it up. Your colleagues are not your servants; nor are you theirs.” Mitchell also suggested that it’s rude to eat in front of someone who’s not eating. So if someone interrupts your lunch, ask them to return in 10 minutes – and make sure you’re ready when they return.

MITCHELL’S GUIDE TO WORKPLACE EATING Your lunch should not smell so much that it attracts attention, negative or positive.

Don’t be a space hog, monopolising the fridge with your colossal container.

Nobody should be able to hear you chomping it either, or slurping your soup or beverage.

Microwaves are not for cooking at the office. They are only for heating food, so don’t monopolise them, and don’t walk away and leave them while something of yours is being heated.

Refrigerators need to be cleaned out every week, and food should not be stored there over the weekend.

If your office has a single-serve coffeemaker, clean up after yourself. Dispose of used containers and wipe up any drips or spills.

Whatever you bring, make sure it’s in airtight containers labelled with your name.

If you’re sharing a coffee pot, refill it if you take the last dregs, and the same rules as above apply to cleaning up.



ody language is likely the first language you ever learned, which makes it even harder to understand why so many of us fail so miserably at it. Thankfully, life coaches (yes, there is such a thing) Mark and Angel have put together some useful everyday phrases for the novice on their blog, Mark and Angel Hack Life. Here are some of our favourites: Holding objects in front of your body – A coffee cup, notebook, handbag, etc. Holding objects in front of your body indicates shyness and resistance, such that you’re hiding behind the objects in an effort to separate yourself from others. Instead of carrying objects in front of you, carry them at your side whenever possible.

Stroking your chin while looking at someone – “I’m judging you!” People frequently stroke their chin during the decision-making process. If you look at someone while you’re stroking your chin, they may assume that you’re making a judgmental decision about them. Standing too close – Most people consider the four square feet of space immediately surrounding their body to be personal space. Cross this invisible boundary with good friends and intimate mates only.

of egotism. Always try to keep your arms open and at your sides. Scratching at the backside of your head and neck – A typical sign of doubt and uncertainty. It can also be interpreted as an indication of lying. Try to keep your hands away from your head when you’re communicating with others.

Standing with your hands crossed over your genitals – This casual posture almost guarantees that you’ll lose a little respect before you even have the chance to speak a single word. People feeling nervous or unsure of themselves will unconsciously take Resting hands behind the head or on the hips – Usually a guarded stance. Quite frequently interpreted as a sign of superiority they adopt a posture that guards Picking lint off your clothes one of their most vulnerable areas: or bigheadedness. Only use these – If you pick lint off of your clothes their genitals. This stance pushes gestures when you’re in the during a conversation, especially in your shoulders forward and makes presence of close friends. conjunction with looking downwards, your entire body look smaller and most people will assume that you weaker. Again, try to keep your Crossing your arms – A sign disapprove of their ideas and/or feel of defensive resistance. Some hands at your sides and your uneasy about giving them an honest people may also interpret it as a sign shoulders back. opinion. Leave the lint alone!



AGGREGATOR / WHOLESALE BROKER Choice Home Loans 1800 188 288 Page 16 & 17 FAST 02 9233 8222 Page 32 PLAN Australia 1300 78 78 14 Page 7


Adelaide Bank 1300 791 679 au Page 9 Homeloans Ltd 13 38 39 Page 13 Liberty Financial 13 11 33 Page 3

ME Bank (03) 9708 3994 Page 19 National Australia Bank Page 5 Versara 1300 CAVEAT (228 328) Page 4


Australian First Mortgage 02 9643 4300 Page 11 Rent4Keeps 1300 76 30 20 Page 18

Mango Credit 02 9555 7073 Page 1 Quantum Credit 1300 135 212 Page 8


Deposit Power 1800 678 979 Page 15 RP Data 1300 734 318 Page 23 Trailerhomes 0417 392 132 Page 26


Interim Finance 02 9982 2222 Page 2

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