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Reflections on 2020
Lending to small businesses
What advisers learned from an unprecedented year.
With banks tightening up, what are the options?
Up front 04
MORTGAGE LINK CONFERENCE
PEPPER SPONSORED CONTENT
Big banks v the small and non-banks.
Growth for Mortgage Link in 2020 in spite of the year that was.
Astute file audits begin; SHARE CEO hails Newpark mortgage business; NZFSG-Kepa merger finalised; Advisers unconvinced by DTIs.
SALES AND MARKETING
Full licensing provisions – what you need to know.
NZ housing breaks records, but some are calling for changes.
Pepper Money talk flexible lending solutions and real-life help for advisers and their clients.
Marc Oliver retires from ASB; Penny Burgess returns to ANZ; and more.
The market boom continues – we break down the facts.
Rachana Dave on building a business and meeting Jacinda.
Paul Watkins on mastering online marketing.
Steve Wright on cover for non-Pharmacfunded drugs.
UP FRONT • EDITORIAL
Big banks v the small and nonbanks
Head office and Advertising 1448A Hinemoa Street, Rotorua PO Box 2011, Rotorua P: 07 349 1920 F: 07 349 1926 E: email@example.com
Daniel Dunkley, Daniel Smith, David Greenslade, Michelle Sargeant, Paul Watkins, Steve Wright
’ve been around the mortgage advice space for a couple of decades now and recently I witnessed something unsettling. Over the years I’ve sat in on many conferences, and been able to attend sessions, even if some were under the Chatham House Rule. Last month, for the first time, I was chucked out of the panel session with main banks. Interestingly it appears it was just one bank that opposed my attendance (a blue one). What is unsettling is how there is a changing behaviour amongst the big banks to being open with the market and advisers about what they are doing. Another example is around an issue one adviser wanted to talk to the media about. The head of third party distribution at one bank told this adviser if he talked to the media about this issue then he would have his accreditation removed. This sort of behaviour, along with poor turnaround times and inconsistent lending decisions, is souring the relationship between advisers and the big banks. It is one of the reasons why the nonbank sector is seeing growth. Indeed of all the non-banks I have spoken to recently they have all reported record volumes. Sure, they are still small compared to what the big banks do, but they are out there doing good things. Added to that the small banks, all locally owned, I may say, are getting as much support from advisers as they can handle, and good on them. By the time you read this it will be less than 100 days until the licensing regime comes into play.
Talk about a wild, crazy ride to the finish line. We’ve seen SHARE acquire Newpark and NZ Financial Services Group soak up Kepa. Who is next? I’d hate to speculate and would never have picked Newpark and SHARE getting together. The two groups are oil and water. How it plays out is going to be one of the great shows to watch. What is worrying is that many advisers (across all disciplines) have yet to make decisions on how they will operate after March 15. If it wasn’t for Covid pushing back the start date of the new regime I would hate to speculate what sort of mess we would have had at the start of next year. For those who haven’t made decisions it would be wise to sort these things out before Christmas as time is running out. While this is not a particularly cheery note to end on; if you have not decided to get a transitional licence or join a FAP then you cannot write business. All of us here at TMM wish you and your families a great and safe Christmas. We have enjoyed bringing you the news and thank those firms who have supported TMM. Without them there would be no magazine.
TMM is published by Tarawera Publishing Ltd (TPL). TPL also publishes online money management magazine Good Returns www.goodreturns.co.nz and ASSET magazine.
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UP FRONT • MORTGAGE LINK CONFERENCE
Mortgage Link Conference
First row (left to right) MC Glen Sharkey. Mortgage Link and Insurance Link directors with Ian Jones. Second row (left to right) Special guest speaker – Ian Jones. Individual Mortgage Adviser of the Year (Non Branded): Ryan Kim. Individual Mortgage Adviser of the Year (Branded): Michael Walters. 06
Third row (left to right) EverBright Finance team with their awards.
UP FRONT • MORTGAGE LINK CONFERENCE
Growth for Mortgage Link in 2020 Mortgage Link managing director Josh Bronkhorst says the company has had a year of growth which is a pleasing achievement considering Covid-19 and all the other market disruptions during 2020. “The year of growth has been quite a surprise,” he says. While there is consolidation happening amongst the mortgage groups with SHARE buying Newpark and NZ Financial Services Group picking up Kepa, Mortgage Link has been growing its numbers. Bronkhorst says the group has more than 150 advisers. This is quite a change from six years ago when the group had just 25 advisers. He told delegates at its recent conference that Mortgage Link isn’t looking to be
the biggest group, rather it aims “to be New Zealand’s preferred financial advice provider group”. The group is founded on “family values and good outcomes for clients”. “We don’t do sales we do journeys with customers.” The volume of business has continued to grow and change in its mix. October was its best ever for volumes. This year the group will have written about $1.3 billion worth of home loans. He says the mix has changed with more applications going to non-bank lenders and some of the big banks seeing significant drops in volumes. Six years ago 97% of business would have gone to the main banks and that number is now down to around 80%.
Mortgage Link has its own FAP and around 80% of members will come under this. Most of these will be authorised bodies (aka non-licensed FAPs) and there will be financial advisers under the bodies. He says, “It’s a huge job becoming a financial advice provider.” “If (an adviser) does something wrong we are in the gun.” Bronkhorst says he is “pretty excited about the future”. The business has gone through change and is now the Link Financial Group. Under the group there is Mortgage Link, Insurance Link, Adviser Link, FG Link and Invest Link. He hopes that Mortgage Link will soon have its own white label lending product. ✚
UP FRONT • TMMONLINE.NZ/NEWS
Astute file audit promising Astute has started auditing mortgage adviser files and is pleased with what it has found so far. Chief executive Sarah Johnston says the key issue is around record keeping and making sure advisers write down notes around what they are doing. “I’ve not found anything that would make me resign,” she says. She says part of the audit process is to understand the rationale of why an adviser has picked a particular lender for a deal. “We don’t dictate where business goes,” she says. Rather advisers have to demonstrate they went through a process and can prove their decision. The auditing is being taken seriously and all the results are presented to Astute’s board. The group currently has 120 advisers. “We currently process two to four audits per day, meaning that each
month we have processed 40-60 [audits],” she says. “We can increase this number at any time but we are using this time to help our advisers to upskill their record keeping and use of GEM. “Each adviser gets an email with their results, and a follow up phone call with our GEM trainer to see if any further assistance or explanation can be given.” Johnston says advisers need to go through a bit of a mindset change and move from “compliance to commitment”. “[Mortgage advice is] a profession not a job.” “We believe the conduct regime we are entering into is not about ‘simply going through the motions’ or just meeting the minimum requirements.
“It is our commitment to our advisers that led [to] us taking the leadership in going for our own transitional financial advice provider licence and inviting advisers to be authorised bodies under our licence so that together we create that culture of commitment for our clients. “By fostering a culture of commitment where everyone is willing to do what needs to be done, and they do it no matter what it takes, will see us coming up with new ways to achieve results better, cheaper, and faster for our clients. We believe this is the best way to demonstrate ‘clients first’.” Advisers cannot lose sight of the requirement to put clients first, she says.
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UP FRONT • TMMONLINE.NZ/NEWS
SHARE CEO hails Newpark mortgage business SHARE chief executive Tony Dench said the growth of Newpark Home Loans was a major driver behind its acquisition of the Newpark Group. SHARE has completed its acquisition of the Newpark Group aggregation business from former shareholders including Darren Gannon, with the business transferred to a new company, Newpark 2020. Dench said the “fast-growing” Newpark Home Loans was complementary for SHARE, which was looking to build out its mortgage proposition: “We had built a comprehensive mortgage process, but didn’t have a large number of mortgage advisers.” “Our philosophy has always been about looking after all of a client’s
requirements, from KiwiSaver, wider investments, insurance, and mortgages,” Dench told TMM. “We needed to grow our mortgage business and this deal allows us to scale up very quickly. Newpark Home Loans has grown significantly over the past two years.” Dench said SHARE wants to build “longterm relationships” with clients, looking after all of their financial needs. He added advisers would have a wider network to refer deals after the merger. Insurance advisers could choose to refer mortgage business to Newpark Home Loans, and Newpark members could refer business to SHARE if they wanted to. Advisers won’t be encouraged to branch out into new business lines if they don’t want to, he added.
NZFSG-Kepa finalise merger
did not give formal approval for the acquisition of Kepa. Rather, NZFSG informally notified the Commission of the transaction, and the Commission indicated that they did not intend to consider the acquisition further at this time,” NZFSG chief executive Brendon Smith said. “All of our Kepa staff have accepted positions with NZFSG and started with the new group on November 2. I will continue to run Kepa as CEO while we merge the two companies over the coming months with additional responsibility now as head of strategy for the wider NZFSG Group.”
Neal added: “Lee Rudolph, who established and grew Kepa General from scratch has successfully acquired the rights to the Kepa General client base and will continue to run that business.” The merger combines Kepa’s network of 400 advisers with the 1,200 plus network of NZFSG and Loan Market. NZFSG said Kepa’s general insurance arm will remain with Kepa’s holding company Kepa Financial Services (KFS). The assets will be divested in the coming months and KFS will be wound down.
Advisers remain opposed to DTIs. One told TMM Online they would be “just another exercise for the broker to undertake for the customer, lender and the Reserve Bank”. Mortgage People's Martin Thomas said DTIs would be difficult to implement in Auckland. He said they were “probably impractical in Auckland with median house prices over $1,000,000. If you’re borrowing $800,000 it assumes an income of $133,000 – that will cut most FHBs out of the market, if the banks cap DTI at 6 times.” Andy Phillipson of The Mortgage Shop said debt servicing ratios, used years ago, were “far more accurate”, and “far more reliable”. He isn't a fan of DTIs as they “can easily come to grief as soon as [the] borrower goes to a finance company and takes on more debt”. “In my role now, I am doing a lot of ‘financial repairs’ for clients. Despite fighting hard to get a home loan
for them, it is not uncommon for a borrower to return 6-12 months later with $40-$80k of new outside debt that I then have to consolidate or tidy up,” he said. Ian Webb of NewBuild Residential Construction Lending said DTIs could be a better tool than LVRs, but should not be implemented alongside LVRs. “I don’t agree there should be both LVR and DSR/DTI restrictions, unless they completely exempt regulation over a person’s primary residence, and also residential construction for any purpose, as shortage of supply is the main reason for the problem in the first instance.” He called on the government and regulators to “free up supply of land, and speed up consents, then any restrictions on consumers would not be required at all. We should stop dampening and restricting demand and instead be focussed on the supply side to resolve this issue.” ✚
NZFSG's merger with Kepa, first reported by TMM Online, has received regulatory approval and closed on October 30 as planned, according to the group's chief executive Brendon Neal. The two groups sought approval from the Overseas Investment Office and NZ Commerce Commission for their tie-up. The NZ Commerce Commission
Advisers unconvinced by DTIs Mortgage advisers are unconvinced that the Reserve Bank's plan to introduce debt-to-income ratios will reduce risk and fix the housing market. The RBNZ governor Adrian Orr confirmed the central bank wants to introduce controversial debt-to-income ratios to curb excessive lending, and reduce the risks of going into default if they lose income. Orr said the Reserve Bank would “dust off” plans on DTIs, after weighing them up seriously in the past. It comes amid rising pressure on the Reserve Bank to try and cool the housing market, after lowering interest rates, introducing a funding for lending programme, and scrapping LVRs in May.
Dench said Newpark members would be given the same choices over structure, governance and CRM they had before. “We will give Newpark members everything they had in the past, but they will have more options. It’s our intention to open the Newpark licence to have advisers go under that if they want, or for advisers to have their own FAP if they choose. “CRM again is not a compulsion, but we’ll offer access to SHARE’s Xplan, which I think is tremendous,” he added. Asked whether the new group would be strong enough to take on the big names in the market, Dench said his business offered something different to advisers. “It’s more about providing choice than taking on the competition,” he added.
UP FRONT • PEOPLE
Loan Market names new CEO Loan Market has hired a senior figure from ANZ as its new chief executive, replacing industry veteran Brian Greer who is stepping down from his role. Amanda Savill will take on the top job, the adviser business said. Savill most recently worked for ANZ as head of its retail branch network in the North Shore, Auckland. She will start on November 23. She has worked in the financial services sector for more than 20 years in a number of roles, including head of general insurance at ANZ. Loan Market's appointment comes months after Greer confirmed he would step down from his role to spend more time in Dunedin. Executive chairman Sam White said Savill was “an outstanding addition to the group”. “She keeps the customer front-ofmind in everything she does, while her Executive MBA and National Certificate in Financial Services will allow her to implement our vision on the ground. “Her interest and background in corporate innovation and technology, in particular, will be an excellent asset for the group as we reinvent the broker offering through digital engagement.” White thanked Greer for his tenure in the top job. “Brian has laid a tremendous platform from which Amanda can take the group. [He] has made the transition as seamless as possible. We foresee continued growth and innovation ahead.”
New Development Manager at Mortgage Lab 010
ANZ re-appoints Penny Burgess as broker boss Penny Burgess is to return to an adviserfacing role at ANZ New Zealand as part of changes at the nation's biggest lender. ANZ has confirmed Burgess' appointment as general manager, specialist distribution and insurance. Under the new title, Burgess will look after the mortgage adviser and mobile mortgage manager channels at ANZ. The bank said Burgess would also lead ANZ's insurance partnerships. News of Burgess' appointment was well received in the adviser industry. One experienced broker said the news was "great for advisers" who deal with ANZ. Burgess has been with ANZ for almost 20 years, holding a variety of senior level roles. She has been involved with a number of industry task forces such as the NZ Bankers' Association where she chaired the compliance committee and was involved with the initial Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act changes. According to her LinkedIn page, Burgess has previously been head of specialist distribution, a regional manager, and programme manager. Burgess was also head of the lending services centre at ANZ National Bank, and holds a bachelor of commerce degree from Victoria University of Wellington, and a GAICD from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
The Mortgage Lab has promoted current adviser Brett Davies, to learning and development manager for the company.
Big bank broker boss retires The head of third party distribution at one of the big four banks has decided to retire after years in the role. After a 40 year career at ASB Marc Oliver has announced his resignation from the bank. Oliver has headed up third party distribution at the bank for around 15 years, taking over from one of the founders of mortgage broker distribution, Tom Roberts. Oliver leaves the role in three weeks’ time and ASB have advertised internally for a replacement. Over the years he has attended dozens of mortgage adviser group conferences and made his final appearance at the recent Mortgage Link conference in Wellington. In a short speech at the conference dinner Oliver said there was no specific reason why he decided to leave the role other than that it felt like the right time to move on. He said it has been "an amazing ride" with lots of highs and lows. Over the next six months he doesn't plan to do much, other than to spend time at his bach at Waihi Beach. He plans to return to the work force in the future, but in what role is undecided. Oliver finishes up on December 4.
Brett will be training new and existing advisers, facilitate workshopping difficult deals between other Mortgage Lab advisers and maintaining the company's internal bank-policy comparison software. Currently, Mortgage Lab has 19 advisers nationwide. Mortgage Lab said Brett is “highly respected by the BDMs and his appointment is another step towards achieving the highest level of applicationquality in the coming compliance regime”.
Double hire at Avanti
Avanti has taken on two new hires Jean Teariki enters a new role with Avanti Finance as finance executive in the property team. “Jean has been a part of our topups team for many years and has demonstrated an excellent understanding of both the lending environment and the needs of our introducers in her tenure here. We are very excited to welcome her to the property lending team,” the company said.
Matt Thomas also joins Avanti Finance as the Auckland representative of the business development management team. “Some advisers will already know Matt, as he has transitioned from our business finance team to join our growing property team. His experience and knowledge of the adviser space places him in a strong position to assist our introducers,” Avanti Finance said.
Mike Pero Mortgages makes new hires
Mike Pero Mortgages has welcomed a new network sales manager. Eric Williams becomes network sales manager for the northern region. Formerly at BNZ, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with 25 years in the banking and finance industry. MPM said: “The MPM network is growing fast – with 102 advisers and counting. Eric’s expertise in building and fostering networks is invaluable to support our advisers on the path to success. “Eric loves working with business owners and is passionate about mentoring and coaching advisers to reach their business growth potential. “Having the knowledge about ongoing industry changes enables me to help advisers adhere to regulations while focusing on achieving growth.”
Mike Pero Mortgages has also drafted in a number of new advisers. Waihi franchise owner, Jacob Annals welcomes Bernardita Covos Cox to Waihi. MPM said: “Fluent in Spanish, French and English, Bernardita is a strong communicator and is inspired by helping people reach their financial dreams.”
Joining Timothy Ross' team in Tauranga is new mortgage adviser Helen Fraser. MPM said: “With 30 years’ experience in banking and finance, Helen’s vast knowledge and passion has helped many Kiwis achieve their financial goals. When not at work, Helen is enjoying everything the Tauranga region has to offer.”
Wellington franchise owner Zebunisso Alimova is joined by new insurance adviser Elena Silaeva. Prior to joining the Mike Pero team, Silaeva worked at Tower Insurance and is “passionate about providing customer-focused solutions”, the company said.
Jumping on board John Robinson’s team in Auckland is new mortgage adviser Amy Vu. Before joining Mike Pero, Vu worked in real estate and brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to the home buying process. Originally from Vietnam, she has lived in New Zealand for 10 years and in her spare time enjoys practising yoga. ✚
UP FRONT • REGULATION
Full licence provisions: what you need to know The FMA has finally released standard conditions for a full FAP licence. But what are the fishhooks? BY DANIEL SMITH
s March 15 grows closer, many advisers across the financial services industry are scrambling to get ready for what may well be the most significant industry shakeup in a generation. The latest and most important update over the past few months has been the release of the FMA’s full licence provisions. After much industry consulting, the FMA has finally released the standard conditions that financial advice providers (FAP) must adhere to in order to achieve a full licence. The final standard conditions for a full FAP licence include three separate classes of financial advice service, as well as seven sections which the standard conditions will cover.
The seven standard conditions for a full licence
‘We were extremely pleased to see the omission of professional indemnity insurance from the final full licensing conditions’ _ Katrina Shanks
1. Record-keeping 2. Internal complaints process 3. Regulatory returns 4. Outsourcing 5. Business continuity 6. Technology systems 7. Notification of material changes One notable omission from the conditions is professional indemnity insurance. The FMA media release says that “Professional indemnity insurance cover remains an important decision for each financial advice provider to consider, taking into account their own particular circumstances, and accordingly, the FMA decided not to include professional indemnity insurance as a standard condition.” Katrina Shanks, CEO of Financial Advice New Zealand, said “We were extremely pleased to see the omission 012
of professional indemnity insurance from the final full licensing conditions. There was a lot of consultation with the industry around this point. The FMA listened to the concerns of the industry and as a result, have removed PI from the final conditions. “One of the big reasons for removal was the change in the market, as well as the uncertainty around the availability and affordability of PI. This was one of the key things that we advocated on behalf of advisers for as a part of our submission process. “Financial Advice NZ have worked really collaboratively with the FMA on these full licensing conditions and we appreciate the consultation process which they put in place.” The three different financial advice provider classes have changed from “A, B and C” to “1, 2 and 3”. The classes
mean financial advice provider applicants can apply for the licence that best suits their circumstances, whether they are a sole adviser business, engage multiple advisers or authorised bodies, or operate a business that has nominated representatives. John Botica, FMA director of market engagement, said the consultation received a healthy response from the industry, with 55 written responses. “Standard conditions play an important role in setting the bar for the businesses the FMA licenses. The consultation helped to ensure the standard conditions will be fit for purpose and we were pleased to see the industry was broadly very supportive of them,” Botica said. The FMA continues to process transitional licence applications, leading up to the commencement of the new financial advice regime. Anyone who still intends to apply for a transitional licence is encouraged to do so before the summer break to ensure their application can be processed before March 15, 2021. Shanks says that the full licensing conditions bring with them “a lot of new requirements which many advisers have not had to consider before. Advisers are going to have to look very carefully at those final standard conditions. To help them through this process Financial Advice NZ and the FMA are running a joint-launch of the final standard conditions guidance in Christchurch on November 17.” Murray Weatherston, principal of Financial Focus, has commented that in the full licence provisions “there are a few things that I think will prove to be fishhooks”. “The first one is record keeping. Now while everyone thinks they keep good records, these provisions are asking for ‘records relating to how you or any person engaged by you has complied with the financial advice duties’.
‘I would imagine that large numbers of advisers who are going to be licensed have not even looked at these [conditions]’ _ Murray Weatherston
So in this new regime advisers are not only going to have to be careful when they give advice, but they are going to have to carefully document how they took into account, in any particular piece of advice, the laws and regulations. “This is going to mean that once someone has given advice, they are going to have to sit down and spend hours writing notes in case the FMA comes calling. This is going to cost anyone who has a licence a truckload of money, and the regulators won’t like me saying this, but there is only one place these costs are going to fall, and that is on the clients.”
Compounding these fears of a skyrocketing cost of advice is Weatherston’s concern that many advisers don’t realise just how much these changes are going to affect their industry. “I would imagine that large numbers of advisers who are going to be licensed have not even looked at these [conditions]. Most people who do read them might think ‘oh this is all pretty simple’, but when you get into the nittygritty and you are faced by a monitoring visit, I think a fair number of advisers are going to be found to be wanting.” Another fundamental shift March 15 is going to bring is changes to the disclosure regulations. These changes will see the end of the written disclosure document as after March 15 disclosure content must be presented to the client in a way that the client can understand and at a time where the information is relevant. At an FSC “Get In Shape” conference dedicated to bringing the industry up to speed on the new disclosure regulations, David Greenslade of Strategi Group said that the new disclosure regulations will be “a big leap forward for some businesses”. Greenslade added that some RFA advisers would not be used to talking about their own remuneration, but that the regulations were clear that it will be “on you to disclose the value that you add to a portfolio. This includes disclosing how much you are getting paid”.
Mark Banicevich from Partners Life clarified: “You don’t have to disclose your salary to clients, but you do have to disclose your commission. Also, you must disclose your individual reliability history, whether you had any bankruptcy or warnings from the regulator.”
The four stages of disclosure in the new regulations 1. At all times on the company website, for which the FAP is responsible. 2. When the scope of financial advice is known, for which the adviser is responsible. 3. When financial advice is given, for which the adviser is responsible. 4. When there is a complaint, for which FAP and adviser are responsible. It may seem that the multiple stages and murky separation of responsibility could have some advisers scratching their heads. But Banicevich said that while the industry was “saying what you had to disclose, it isn’t saying how you have to disclose it”. Greenslade adds that there is “huge flexibility with how you facilitate disclosure. Whatever way you can think of communicating it you can do it. “Disclosures shouldn’t be something hidden away at the bottom of the website. Wherever a client is likely to land on the website the disclosure should be there.” ✚
UP FRONT • PROPERTY NEWS
NZ property bounces back New Zealand’s housing market has gone from strength-to-strength over the past few months, but there are growing calls to cool the market, reports TMM and Landlords.co.nz. BY DANIEL DUNKLEY AND DANIEL SMITH
he surprise and amazement at the housing market gave way to frustration in November, amid growing calls for the government and Reserve Bank to keep a lid on record prices. The market keeps climbing, but LVR rules are due to be reintroduced, and the government is exploring an extended bright-line test. Agents and advisers remain as busy as ever, with many planning to reverse staff cuts and add new faces as the market drives activity. As summer approaches, most bank economists predict steady rises into 2021. Low interest rates, the Funding for Lending Programme, and the lack of supply is driving sky-high prices. Potential headwinds are on the way for investors following a surge in landlord buy-to-let activity since the pandemic.
Evidence mounts for NZ property market rebound There is growing evidence of a strong bounce-back in the residential property market, according to CoreLogic. It says profit-making resales of houses have increased nationally to 96.8%. On a median national resale basis that is a gain of $229,000. These figures are up from $220,000 nationally in the second quarter of 2020, and not far short of the record peak of $233,000 at the start of the year. Median resale loss, or “pain”, also improved the latest quarter, from $22,500 to $20,000. That was the smallest median resale loss in two years. CoreLogic’s Pain and Gain Report, compares resales to the original purchase price. The national trend of strong property “gain” and minimal “pain” was replicated in most of the main centres, consistent with the broad rebound CoreLogic has also seen for sales activity and property values. In Hamilton and Wellington, about 99% of resales in the latest quarter were made above the original purchase price, with Tauranga and Dunedin at 98%. Auckland and Christchurch also showed improvements in the third quarter. Auckland’s share of property resales made for a slight gross profit rise from 94.6% in quarter two to 95%, while Christchurch rose from 90.9% to 92.4%. CoreLogic senior property economist, Kelvin Davidson says, “This report really confirms what we know is going on in the housing market more generally. “Prices have rebounded strongly from Covid-19 and are continuing the upwards trend they had before the pandemic hit.” “Overall, it’s been remarkable how quickly the sentiment in the property market has turned from pessimism back in April and May to more confidence now. Low mortgage rates and the tight supply/demand balance are feeding into renewed growth in property values that we’re seeing in our resales data.
“There’s also no evidence that any particular part of the country is really suffering. The lack of any real regional variation highlights that things are pretty strong across the country.” Houses made the biggest gains with 97.3% of house resales made at a gross profit which is pretty much as high as that figure has been since mid to late 2007, he says. For apartments, 86.1% of resales were made above the original purchase price. Davidson predicts this positive trend will continue in the final quarter of 2020. “On the back of low mortgage rates, I expect to see further growth in house prices and buyers competing for limited stock. Any resellers will likely have good demand, and some could continue to see multiple offers for their property, and sell for a solid gain. “However, if we see unemployment rise in the fourth quarter led by the absence of inbound overseas tourism over summer, landlords might have a higher risk of vacancy in rental properties. If this flows through to investment property resales, investor property performance could slip a little. It’s unlikely to be major, but something to keep an eye on,” Davidson said.
Is a bright-line test extension imminent? Speculation is mounting that the government will extend the bright-line test beyond five years, capturing a greater number of investment properties for taxation. While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out a traditional capital gains tax on investment properties during her time in charge, the Labour Government is exploring ways to take the heat out of the investment market following a record year. There's a growing belief that Finance Minister Grant Robertson will ask the Treasury about an extension to the bright-line test. Robertson has confirmed he has asked Treasury to review the effectiveness of the current model. The bright-line test currently requires people who sell investment properties within five years of buying them to pay income tax on capital gains. The brightline was introduced by National at two years, and extended by the coalition in 2018 to five years. Tax advisers say the IRD is likely to up the ante in its enforcement of the bright-line test. They also note there are provisions in existing legislation for greater taxation of any property sales made within ten years, under section 14B of the Income Tax Act. The scrutiny on the bright-line test comes after recent IRD figures showed a lack of compliance and enforcement. Recent Inland Revenue figures found that a quarter of investors subject to the
bright-line test did not pay the tax that applied. Of the 1,701 property sales it applied to in 2019, just 1,285 owners paid the necessary tax, according to the figures. An extension of the bright-line test is supported by the Green Party and opposed by National, which has called it a capital gains tax by stealth. The debate points to greater scrutiny on landlords’ activities as house prices continue to rise across the country.
Time to stop the finger-pointing on housing New Zealand needs a bipartisan housing accord to fix the nation's skyrocketing prices and supply problems, according to economists at ASB. Senior Economist Mark Smith believes changes are “well overdue”, and policy experts and politicians need to come together to fix the decades-long housing market problem. In ASB's latest economic weekly, Smith argues for an end to finger pointing, as the Labour Government, Green Party and National continue to trade blows over the nation's affordability crisis. “The needs of the country need to come first, rather than using housing as a political football and an avenue for point scoring,” Smith says. It comes as the government publicly called on the Reserve Bank to cool the housing market and add price inflation to its remit. The RBNZ has already backtracked on scrapping LVRs, and is poised to reintroduce them in March. Smith argues NZ needs to stop putting the housing crisis in the “too hard” basket. “The blame game needs to stop, and group and self-interest needs to be parked. A housing accord is well overdue, to bring together politicians, policymakers and experts to discuss what could be done. Recommendations from this will need to have bite rather [than being] consigned into the too-hard basket by central and local government.” NZ needs a “multi-faceted and coordinated policy approach” to tackle the housing issue, covering both demand and supply-side aspects. “Proposed moves to add house prices in the [Reserve Bank’s] monetary policy remit may not add much in practice according to the RBNZ but they will promote transparency and a more considered view on how the housing market impacts the monetary policy outlook. “Re-imposing the loan-to value ratio (LVR) restrictions from next March looks to be long overdue and it is good to see banks play their part in reining in some of the riskier lending. The RBNZ should also be prepared to further expand its policy toolkit to help rein in demand,” Smith adds. ✚ WWW.TMMONLINE.NZ
FEATURES • HOUSING COMMENTARY
Property boom continues The economic drivers for further growth all look strong, and the latest round of data supports this likelihood, writes Daniel Smith. BY DANIEL SMITH
hat a year 2020 has been. When Covid-19 hit our shores, and New Zealand definitively shut up shop in late March, the doom and gloom merchants were out in force, predicting a vertiginous drop in house prices. The nation was shut off from the rest of the world, and a slide downwards seemed likely. But it seems that it takes more than a pandemic to keep Kiwis down, especially when it comes to housing. With New Zealanders returning home by the thousands, a loosening up of LVRs, and people who still had jobs looking for places to spend money in lieu of overseas holidays, the housing market has been running red hot.
While some pundits predict a slight slowdown once the Reserve Bank reinstates LVR restrictions earlier than announced (March rather than May 2021), which will affect higher-risk investors with equity lower than 30%, economists don’t foresee a housing correction in the next few years.
Prices still on the up The upward trajectory that we have seen over recent months has consolidated into record-breaking highs up and down the country. Data from Realestate.co.nz shows all-time high average asking prices in six regions. Year-on-year, the national average asking price also increased by 12.4% to $772,288.
‘The last time we saw sales volumes of this magnitude was back in May 2016 when the market was very strong’ _ Bindi Norwell This price hike was not just focused in the main centres, with data showing all-time average asking price highs in six regions: Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Manawatu/Whanganui. Cause for
‘I have a firm conviction that house prices are going to rise. And that is largely because of low interest rates’ _ Dominick Stephens
celebration for investors across the North Island. Topping the leader board in October was Auckland where the average asking price was $1,015,383. Vanessa Taylor, spokesperson for Realestate.co.nz said: “We have seen a lot of international interest in Auckland recently and this could be pushing up prices and encouraging property owners to sell.” CoreLogic credits this rise from strength to strength to the support mechanisms put in place by the government and banks, while the RBNZ’s intervention (temporary removal of loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions) now appears to be boosting demand and therefore contributing to the uplift in value growth.
Huge increase in sales volumes House prices weren’t the only records being broken last month, with the number of residential properties sold in October across New Zealand increasing by 25%. This is the highest number of properties sold in 53 months (since May 2016) and the highest October sales count in 14 years. In Auckland, the number of properties sold in October increased by 50.9% year-on-year, the highest October sales volume since October 2003. Only one region, Nelson, saw an annual decrease in sales volumes with the number of properties sold in October falling by just one property from 102 in October 2019 to 101 this October. Wellington’s sales volumes remained flat at 750 properties sold. REINZ CEO Bindi Norwell described the housing market as, “extremely buoyant at the moment, with more than 8,800 properties sold around the country. The last time we saw sales volumes of this magnitude was back in May 2016 when the market was very strong, and prices were rising across many parts of the country.”
Future rises forecast For Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens, it’s encouraging to see his predictions of a housing boom become reality. “We did predict the heat of the market. Low interest rates do have a very predictable effect on the market and the market has heated up just as we expected. In fact, it has probably gone even further.” July’s forecast of an 8% house price increase has now been left in the dust, with their latest forecast looking at a 13% increase for 2021. Stephens believes that any forecasting that predicts a drop in prices in the short term is mistaken. “I have a firm conviction that house prices are going to rise. And that is largely because of low interest rates.” The other factor that Stephens thinks could contribute to a boom is the possibility that come 2021, net migration and economic confidence could be in recovery. This prediction combined with the known factor of low interest rates has contributed to this positive outlook for the housing market. But for those foreseeing infinite smooth sailing, Stephens has a warning. “The cloud on the horizon is an eventual increase in interest rates. Now I am not expecting that to happen any time soon, but when it does you can expect house prices to fall.”
A word of caution CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall says that while he was optimistic that property investment returns would remain strong under Covid-19 he had no idea that they would be this strong. “We knew that things were looking much better for the economy than we had expected early on, but not to this degree.” Goodall previously said that low interest rates, access to credit and renewed confidence were the key drivers of the property boom, and while he still thinks they are key, he also believes that LVR restrictions will come into play. “Now there is a lot more discussion about the LVR restrictions coming back, which is going to tighten up available credit. I think it’s fair to say that the upcoming removal of the LVR has had a strong influence on this upswing. This is mainly because it has brought a lot of transactions forward, people want to get in while the limits are still not in place.” ✚
What’s driving house prices? UP REINZ HOUSE SALES
October sales nationwide were the highest for an October in 14 years, while Auckland saw the highest annual increase in sales for 67 months. Year-on-year, sales were up by 25% nationwide and by 50.1% in Auckland.
BUILDING CONSENTS Consents issuance nationwide remains at historically high levels: September consents were up by 3.5% year-on-year. Economists say consent issuance has shown continued resilience.
MORTGAGE APPROVALS Reserve Bank data shows mortgage lending overall reached a record high for an October as the market continued its lockdown recovery. Lending to investors was up both on September and year-on-year.
RENTS Stats NZ’s stock measure shows October’s rents were up by 0.2% on September and by 3.2% year-onyear. Trade Me Property’s October data had the national median rent up by 4.0% year-on-year.
DOWN INTEREST RATES
Rates continue to go down, with the Government announcement of a Funding for Lending programme likely to see short-term rates drop even further.
OCR The Reserve Bank held the OCR at its Covid-19 prompted record low of 0.25% in October.
IMMIGRATION Net migration from April to September 2020 was very low due to border restrictions. Despite this, Stats NZ’s provisional estimates for the year ended September 2020 show annual net migration at 67,700. WWW.TMMONLINE.NZ
Reflections on 2020 A pandemic, working from home, a housing boom and lender turmoil. We ask some of the industryâ€™s leading figures about their experience of 2020. BY DANIEL DUNKLEY 018
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...” wrote Charles Dickens in his classic 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, and in many ways, the famous British writer’s words are just as apt for the mortgage adviser profession in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic, viewed at first as another local threat to Asia, spread rapidly across the globe in the first quarter, reaching New Zealand in February as the global death toll soared. Few would have predicted that the entire nation would go into lockdown quarantine in March, causing the economy to grind to a halt for six weeks to deal with the threat. The Covid lockdown caused the biggest economic fall in New Zealand’s history, with GDP crashing by record numbers in the three months to June. However, the nation bounced back quickly, with Reserve Bank and government support
giving the NZ property market an unexpected boost. But the property market has defied gravity since the pandemic – hitting record levels. And the median Auckland property value is at $1 million for the first time. Many advisers are busier than ever amid one of the worst financial crises in history. Despite the dire economic numbers, mortgage lending reached a record October level this year, and advisers report a frenzy of interest from investors and first home buyers. Advisers are noting record settlements, a record number of deals, new sources of deals from overseas Kiwis heading home and desperate first home buyers with a fear of missing out. Investors also made a big comeback in 2020 following the decision to scrap loan to value ratio restrictions, adding to the workload for advisers and bringing in an unexpectedly bumper year.
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While activity has hit record levels, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the sector, with banks more difficult than ever to deal with, due to rising workloads, a lack of staff, and a flood of hardship and mortgage deferral requests. Turnaround times are worse than ever, brokers say, taking up to a month at some leading banks. In addition to the challenges, advisers have dealt with adapting to working from home, shifting to virtual client meetings, going in and out of lockdown, and dealing with the looming threat of regulation under the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act, due to kick in next March. TMM asked some of the industry’s most experienced advisers, those in the lending market, and group heads for their views on a difficult, but surprisingly successful year. Here’s what they said:
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‘We’ve allowed some of our staff to continue to work from home permanently’ _ Bruce Patten Has 2020 changed your business model for good? Advisers say the pandemic has led to significant changes in their operations, with more people working from home, more meetings conducted by video chat, and greater flexibility in dealing with clients. The changes are unlikely to be reversed into next year, and most brokers think the pandemic-enforced evolution will be lasting. NZFSG’s Bruce Patten said the crisis has “brought home to us that you can work more remotely, and use technology in a better way”. Patten’s business in Auckland was affected by both the nationwide lockdown in March and Auckland focused lockdown in August. 020
He added: “For example, we’ve allowed some of our staff to continue to work from home permanently, which comes with some challenges on the communications side, but if done correctly, it works. We ensure we meet together regularly, once a week, as you don’t want to become strangers.” Patten says the industry has been forced to embrace technology and says the shift to remote-working will suit some people more than others. “We have someone aged 60 who works from home because it suits her lifestyle, it means she doesn’t have to get in the car, and it works for her. Another worker is based far from the office, so it suits her needs. “But I don’t think working from home is for everyone,” Patten adds. “Some people need to work from the office to be more productive, and may not be suited to working from home.” Hamish Patel of Mortgages Online says the pandemic and lockdown forced him “to take a big gamble with upgrading my software systems”. “It was lucky as when we came out of lockdown I could handle more capacity as things got busy. Things have definitely changed for us; basically half of our team works from home two to three days a week. We were going to upgrade the office next year but we might not now, as we don’t need the same space.” “We’re about 60% occupancy now, so things have changed a lot. In terms of our computer systems, a lot of brokers
‘We were going to upgrade the office next year but we might not now, as we don’t need the same space’ _ Hamish Patel have moved to cloud systems, so working from home doesn’t change things a lot. It was great to be able to work remotely through lockdown and have access to our systems.” Patel says more meetings are being done through Zoom. “We’re getting the odd extra appointment. Video calls used to make up about 5% of our meetings, but now they’re about 20%. But the predominant number of clients want that face to face interaction.” For some businesses, the pandemic hasn’t changed much at all.
‘Trying to run a business with the demands of a family, and juggling those things, workloads trebled overnight’ _ Andrew Scott iLender’s Jeff Royle says his business “has always been online, and always used tech, so nothing has changed. Back in the UK, in 1999, is the first time we went non-customer facing.” “We arrived here in 2006 and started the business on the premise of being non-customer facing, as it was more efficient. We’ve used other media, and it has largely been business as normal. We’re all set up from a technical standpoint.”
“Obviously, in lockdown, with people working from home, it was pretty easy. We’ve found however since then, most of our staff prefer to come into the office for the camaraderie.” Newpark Home Loans general manager Andrew Scott says his firm has experienced positive changes during the year, “particularly the value of communication to people”. “Clients were appreciative that advisers made efforts and were in communication during the lockdown. Across the business, we were also trying to keep in touch with people as much as possible and keep people up to speed.”
How difficult has it been to operate through 2020? The strong sales figures might not tell the full story of 2020, and advisers say they have found it hard going at times. “It’s definitely been a rollercoaster,” says Patel. “During the first lockdown things seemed pretty depressing, and we all thought the world was going to end. We decided to connect with clients and build some goodwill with them, even though we weren’t earning any income at that time. It gave us something to do, and we reconnected with people. We have a stronger relationship with clients as a result.”
The sheer level of activity has been hard for some advisers to cope with, particularly with under-staffed banks. Patten says it’s been “manic so far”. “It’s been a really lumpy year, times where we’ve been really busy looking after clients. The banks are not being able to cope with the volumes. They’re not reacting fast enough to staff-up, and it’s an ongoing issue. It’s as bad as it’s ever been with turnaround times. If anything is keeping us awake at night, it’s how poor bank service is.” Newpark’s Scott describes the shift to remote working as a “seamless transition” for his business. “We just got on with it through lockdown, and our people acquitted themselves really well. We had the right tech tools available to carry on. The disruption was also good as it enabled us to focus on our priorities as a business, and it proved our systems worked. We refocused on our commitment to our membership,” he adds. Scott notes the challenges faced by advisers with young families this year. “It’s a hard job being an adviser, and a lonely job as it is. With the lockdown effect, doubly so. Trying to run a business with the demands of a family, and juggling those things, workloads trebled overnight. It was humbling to get feedback that we had supported our members.”
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‘We focus on the non-bank sector, and at times, they were saying they’d run out of money, that’s how busy things have got’ _ Jeff Royle Looking at the underlying numbers, Royle said it was “probably going to be a record year. We’ve had challenges, and we’re working probably three times as hard to get deals over the line than we did before. There’s a lot of hard work in getting these outcomes for customers. We focus on the non-bank sector, and at times, they were saying they’d run out of money, that’s how busy things have got.” But he is also frustrated at the slow turnaround times facing mortgage advisers. “Turnaround times are a joke. They’re unacceptable, and banks are too slow to react. Westpac were first out the rank getting branches to take the load, followed by ASB, but those people aren’t used to dealing with brokers.”
Is your business now more resilient than it was at the beginning of the year? Advisers believe their business is more resilient following the latest financial crisis, better equipped to deal with another downturn or emergence of Covid-19 into the community. NZFSG’s Patten says: “We’re definitely a lot more capable of weathering the storm. Under whatever circumstances that might happen now, we’re able to continue to operate. It’s good for the industry to be able to make positive changes and improve everything, and work on that business continuity plan.” Patel agrees: “I think it’s made us more resilient. Before the crisis, the Auckland market was flat, so we were having to work harder to get business. With Covid, we doubled down, and it made us think hard about what we wanted to do differently. The short, sharp shock made people change. We’re glad we didn’t try to slash the business and make cuts.” Patel believes brokers will be more resilient as a profession in 2020, as banks continue to slash branches and struggle to cope with home loan demand. 022
“Banks may be looking at the fixed cost of branches, and the fact they have to pay advisers bugger all when there’s a shutdown or downturn. They might be looking at their balance sheets and thinking this is not such a bad business model, working with brokers and paying variable costs.” Newpark’s Scott says his company is “absolutely” more resilient than at the beginning of the year. The group has completed a sale to rival adviser group SHARE ahead of the new regulatory regime. “The partnership with SHARE is just complementary, as we had a couple of pieces missing with our offering, and they had a couple of pieces missing. SHARE has the experience of running a corporatised model, effectively a licensed model, and a funding model not reliant on override income.” “We now have a whole new funding model which gives a new level of certainty for staff, who have all worked so hard this year. The merger also means we have ticked a box for succession planning for our members.”
‘We have seen unprecedented support from advisers in our first full year of operation in New Zealand’ _ Aaron Milburn Even lenders have found 2020 to be a learning curve. Aaron Milburn, NZ country head at Pepper Money, says partnering with advisers was the key to its successful year, and “largely maintaining the strategy that we had put in place from day one – to support as many Kiwi families [as possible to] achieve the dream of homeownership”. Milburn adds: “We do that by partnering with advisers, using education as a cornerstone. We want to ensure that advisers know of the solutions at Pepper, and that customers understand how important advisers are to helping them succeed. “We have seen unprecedented support from advisers in our first full year of
operation in New Zealand, celebrating month-on-month growth and growing adviser numbers. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were the first lender in both Australia and New Zealand to protect the trail of advisers from Covid affected customers, highlighting the respect and partnership that we have with our advisers. Together we have helped hundreds of Kiwi families get into homes that they simply would not have been able to otherwise. It fills me with immense pride and fuels our resolve to continue on with that work in the years to come.”
How has Covid affected your preparations for the new advisers’ regime? The implementation of Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act changes were delayed until March next year due to the pandemic. Most advisers say the virus outbreak and lockdowns have had little bearing on their preparations. Royle says “we were always going under our aggregator [NZFSG’s] FAP. Pushing it back gave us a breather. All of our staff have done their Level 5 qualifications, so from the training and competency perspective, we’re all there and ready.” “Coming from the UK, the Kiwis have no idea about regulation and compliance,” Royle adds. “Over there, it’s a 10/10, and these new regulations are 4/10. Coming from the UK, we always had a system in place to put us in a strong position for future changes.” Patten adds: “We’re all set up. We took the opportunity to get everything prepared in April when we went into lockdown, spent time looking at the new environment, and we are all ready to go.” Scott at Newpark says the delay helped his business and others in the market prepare for the seismic changes facing the sector. “Lockdown was good in a way because it was apparent that many advisers weren’t ready for the original implementation date. So it was a silver lining in some ways.” “Many advisers felt underprepared ahead of the original date. From our perspective, it gave us time to test new business models, and reinforced the gut feeling we had to examine ourselves closely and come to the conclusion of our deal with SHARE. “I think we ended with a good result,” Scott says. “If there was one other group out there that was the right fit, it was SHARE. We can bring something to the table for our advisers that we weren’t able to before, and we have a greater capability and capacity, built up over a long period of time, to support advisers. I’m certainly very positive about it, and we’re in a good place for the year ahead.” ✚
FEATURES • SME LENDING
Advisers face SME loan challenge Despite a raft of measures to kick-start SME business lending, clients have found it tough since the pandemic. How can advisers tackle the problem? BY DANIEL DUNKLEY
s Covid-19 swept across New Zealand and the government enforced its first lockdown in March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson began their efforts to rescue the economy. A massive fiscal stimulus package and monetary policy support from the Reserve Bank were designed to help individuals and small businesses through the crisis, but months on, not everyone feels like they have received support from the financial sector. In late March, the government and banks introduced a $6.25 billion business finance guarantee scheme to help small and medium sized firms through the crisis. The Crown agreed to take 80% of the risk of the loans, while banks took the remaining 20%. In November, the government extended the scheme’s interest-free period from one to two years, and extended the scheme by three years. Despite the public support for businesses, advisers say their clients have struggled to obtain business financing since the pandemic. Commercial business financing has been difficult to come by, brokers say,
despite government and Reserve Bank measures to stimulate business lending. Sole traders, and individuals borrowing against residential property, have found it easier to get a loan during the global crisis. According to many advisers and local businesses, the government’s business loan scheme has been too slow in reacting to SMEs’ needs. Accessing the scheme through the major banks, mum and dad businesses have been forced to provide detailed Covid recovery plans to their lender, and hand over forecasts based on figures at the depths of lockdown. Leading advisers say business clients are being made to jump through hoops by the banks, with lenders nervous around backing SMEs in the middle of the Covid crisis. They say lenders are asking business owners for accounts and forecasts two years ahead. Advisers said NZ’s largest bank, ANZ Group, was putting borrowers under the greatest scrutiny. Banks across the board are asking for detailed financials around the past six months, with some basing their decisions on post-lockdown trading figures.
‘Banks in general remain risk averse and pessimistic about the market and borrower stability, despite being encouraged to lend, and the evidence that the market has not retracted as they predicted’ _ Geoff Bawden
‘The appetite for commercial seems minimal from what I have seen’ _Craig Pope
One adviser says ANZ used the six month period after March to project finances for the next two years, a situation that did not paint a realistic picture of their client’s business. They say ANZ declined their client on that basis. “Some banks are a bit braver when it comes to business,” the adviser says. “And I took my client to BNZ.” The adviser says it “pays to shop around” in the current environment. “Just because your own bank is worried about what happened, it doesn’t mean other banks are. Some banks are definitely braver. But if you don’t have a house as security for a loan, then you’re probably in trouble.” Q Group's Geoff Bawden agrees the banks have made it hard for businesses, including sole traders. “Very few businesses were able to come out of lockdown unscathed, and they are having to demonstrate with current year financial data (generally MYOB or Xero) that turnover and profitability remains stable. That can be very difficult to prove. Banks generally are not willing to rely on previous yearend results.” Other advisers believe banks have scaled back their risk appetite since Covid: “The appetite for commercial seems minimal from what I have seen,” says Craig Pope of Wellington based Pope & Co Mortgages. Bawden agrees, and says banks were ignoring the positive signs for the NZ economy, since the elimination of the virus on our shores. “Banks in general remain risk averse and pessimistic about the market and borrower stability, despite being encouraged to lend, and the evidence that the market has not retracted as they predicted. There is now also some emerging evidence to suggest that the
long-term hit on incomes might not be as severe as originally expected.” He said banks were likely cautious as further outbreaks have, and will, happen again. “To be fair, let's acknowledge that those things could change in the blink of an eye should there be further community outbreaks of Covid-19,” Bawden adds. Not every adviser has found it difficult to get business financing. iLender’s Jeff Royle said finding business lending with security has been “pretty easy up to 80%, and with unsecured, we forward to Prospa, with good results.” “Generally the whole business sector is in pretty good shape and [has] a very positive outlook, other countries will be looking on with envy,” he adds.
‘Taking out residential security against your business mixes your business life with your personal finances, and we don’t believe business owners should have to do that’ _Adrienne Church
Prospa is one of a group of non-bank lenders to capitalise on the banks’ behaviour since the Covid crisis. Adrienne Church, the Australia-based lender’s head of New Zealand, says the lender has posted a 265% quarter-onquarter increase in loan originations in the three months to June. Church says NZ businesses are showing strong signs of resurgence, but their needs were not being met by the major banks. “Banks have pulled back on their risk appetite,” she says. “But there are some great stories out there, and companies looking for financing. We’re getting
deals from the broker channel and direct channels.” Church says many companies are looking to expand and grow, rather than get emergency financing. “People are trying to get stock in for Christmas, they want two containers instead of one, or three instead of two. There are positive signs out there and everyone wants to be up and running in the lead up to summer.” She notes a wide range of businesses, from tradies to exporters to arts businesses, are in need of financing. “We worked with an art gallery in Queenstown. Obviously they weren’t seeing a lot of tourists, so they wanted funding to take their gallery online. We were able to help them with that,” Church says. “Another business was importing paint from overseas and selling in-store, but they have had to change their business model, source locally, and set up an online distribution model. The bank wanted forecasts from them and Covid business plans, but we could provide financing.” Church says business owners can often find themselves giving up residential property security on their businesses when they don’t have to. Prospa does not take residential security on loans under $100,000, and provides financing up to $300,000 with general security agreement (GSA) guarantees. “Taking out residential security against your business mixes your business life with your personal finances, and we don’t believe business owners should have to do that.” Amid the Covid crisis, Church says more businesses should look beyond the main banks for speedy business decisions. Prospa uses its fintech to analyse realtime business data, using recent sales and income figures to make decisions within 10 minutes. In contrast, bank lending decisions linked to residential security can take days and weeks to come through. “Our credit engine looks at everything. If you’re paying your bills on time, your rent, or if you’ve got a rent reduction because of Covid, our systems analyses that to make a decision.” Following the extension of the government’s business loan guarantee scheme, Church hopes that non-banks will be included to deliver the muchneeded funds for Kiwi SMEs. Prospa is lobbying to get alternative lenders included. “Hopefully we can widen that and get the money out much faster,” Church says. “By including only banks in the scheme, it limits decision-making to lenders with a narrow risk appetite. ✚ WWW.TMMONLINE.NZ
FEATURES • SPONSORED CONTENT
Pepper Money leading the way with real life help BY MICHELLE SARGEANT
020 has been a year like no other. But it is a year we can all be proud of. What it has demonstrated is just how well the industry can come together to support one another when it’s needed the most. Advisers were busier than ever, at the forefront helping customers understand their options and looking to improve their situation, while also managing shifting credit appetites from lenders, delayed turnaround times and more people seeking solutions. This was no easy feat and is a direct reflection of the passion and effort advisers put in to helping Kiwi families achieve their goals.
With our first full year in market in New Zealand, Pepper Money sought to offer choice, flexible lending solutions and real-life help for advisers and their clients. At the peak of the pandemic, we sought to help advisers understand the financial relief options available to their customers quickly. That’s why we created the Pepper Money Financial Assistance hub from scratch – a comprehensive guide with all the information on financial relief assistance a customer may need to know, as well as a simple online form where customers experiencing hardship could apply for assistance. Pepper was also proud to lead the industry in honouring all trail payments for customers affected by the pandemic, providing much needed certainty and confidence about an adviser’s own position, while continuing to help others. Pepper also worked to maintain our market leading 24-hour turnaround times and service levels, giving advisers the certainty they needed when working with an anxious customer. With the year now coming to an end, we are determined to continue our strategy of helping real life Kiwi families and mortgage advisers succeed into 2021. Our market research has told us that almost a quarter of borrowers have been turned down for a loan in the last two years and, almost 40% of those who were rejected were not made aware that there were alternative lenders.1 We think this highlights what we have always believed – which is just how
‘Almost one quarter of borrowers have been turned down for a loan in the last two years’ _Source: Pepper Money Pulse Survey, June 2019 important the role of a mortgage adviser is to our industry. Life events like divorce, long term illness or job loss are just a fact of life, and the way people earn income is changing too. These customers might simply need a near prime or specialist solution and without the adviser channel, everyday New Zealanders would have fewer options available to them. We’ve found that borrowers who have applied for a loan through an adviser has increased over time, with 39% of customers applying through an adviser in the last 12 months. 2 Key reasons being, their ability to negotiate with lenders on their behalf, assisting them through the application process, to save them time and money, and to access a greater range of lenders. We want to make sure we continue to help advisers offer this unique service to borrowers, which is why we’ve made education a cornerstone of our offering. The Pepper Money team runs a regular series of product training sessions, PD Days and webinars throughout the year to help advisers understand the different
‘Almost 40% of those who were declined were not made aware that there were alternative lenders’ _Source: Pepper Money Pulse Survey, June 2019 solutions available to their customers. Our BDM team also share weekly “quick tips” to help advisers target and look out for new customers, including those that may be struggling to get assistance from mainstream lenders. Once advisers have an understanding of this, it’s easier for them to see that they can help more families succeed, and in turn improve their own businesses. Put simply – we want to make it easier for you and your customers. Pepper Money has put the technology into place to assist advisers in helping more Kiwi families and we are committed to supporting advisers in innovative and useful ways. This includes our end to end digital experience. Pepper’s document engine can identify the different types of documents collected by mortgage advisers, assess what information is required, then automatically extract data from the application form, driver’s licence and passport to streamline what is traditionally a very lengthy process. 2020 also saw us launch version 2.0
of our Pepper Product Selector tool – an online tool that takes the guess work out of finding the most appropriate Pepper product for an adviser’s customer. Following feedback from early adopters, Pepper Money added the ability to calculate the customer’s borrowing power before returning an indicative offer tailored to the customer’s circumstances. In less than five minutes an adviser can now: • calculate the customer’s indicative borrowing power upfront • check the customer’s credit history – with no impact to their credit score • have an indicative offer for a Pepper Money loan solution – with the product, rate, fees and repayment amount outlined. The tool can be particularly useful where a customer’s circumstances do not typically fit the banks' criteria and they are searching for an alternative solution. With these achievements in mind and knowing how resilient and unified our industry is, we’re finishing 2020 excited about the opportunities for the year ahead. We have found that advisers and customers were more open to alternative lending options this year, which bodes especially well for 2021. That’s why we are thrilled to be launching our Pepper Referral Marketing toolkit in the new year. This toolkit has been developed in response to the number of New Zealand families needing alternative lending
solutions and feedback from advisers expressing that there is a strong need for content and practical tools specifically targeting the non-conforming market. And, with our research confirming that more than 60% of new business comes from existing customer referrals, repeat customers and recommendations from professional networks, we’ll be sharing: • a series of case studies advisers can customise with their branding and leave with their referral partners as a reminder of the type of customers they can assist • a customer satisfaction survey template that helps advisers gather actionable feedback from their existing customers • ready to use content on alternative lending to help brokers create their own online content or emails. On behalf of everyone at Pepper Money, I’d like to thank you for the continued support you gave us, and your customers this year. Together, we’ve worked to help hundreds of families achieve their dream of home ownership and we consider this an incredible privilege. Advisers and borrowers are at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to invest heavily into broker education, technology and real-life solutions in 2021. ✚ Source: Pepper Money Pulse Survey, June 2019 2 Source: RFi NZ Mortgage Council Survey, April 2020 1
COLUMNS • MY BUSINESS
Dave dials-up standards Rachana Dave, boss of 0800RACHNA, tells TMM about thriving as a migrant woman in a male-dominated profession, hosting a radio show, and meeting Jacinda. BY DANIEL DUNKLEY
Tell us about your background: What prompted you to go into the mortgage advice business? I came to New Zealand as a migrant 16 years ago. Entering a profession that was maledominated, the demand of working after hours and at weekends was the most challenging for a family-oriented woman. From working in a supermarket as my first job, to becoming the first Indian woman to receive Best Mortgage Adviser at the Indian Business Awards, and 028
receiving an award from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018, it has been a challenging but rewarding journey. Working for ASB Bank for over eight years helped me to understand lending, product knowledge, credit criteria, that helped me as a mortgage adviser. I started as a mortgage adviser in July 2014 as a one-woman army, and now we are a team of 10 people.
How did you go about learning the business? And how did you find the process? I had a very simple, basic, and yet very effective business plan in place. I come from a family of business owners, so I had basic understanding. I had a thumb rule that in my first five years of business, I had to grow by 24% year by year. I’ve achieved that goal to-date. I strongly believe in writing my goals down. I keep a very close eye to make sure I am on track with my business plan.
Tell us about your business and why you are passionate about being an adviser. My vision is to build a top financial advising enterprise providing quality services and make a difference in the community. I educate clients on how to create a property portfolio and secure a better financial future. I help my clients confidently start their journey from
being a first home buyer to becoming the owner of multiple properties in 15 years. My business is mainly focused on residential home lending and construction loans. We ensure we protect the clients by looking after their personal insurance needs as well. The smile and satisfaction on my clients’ faces when buying their first home keeps me going and reminds me why I am in the business.
How do you approach business differently to other advisers? I have always focused on how I want to make a difference in the community. I [also] focus on giving honest advice and want to make sure I have a 15-year journey with my clients, and not a oneoff transaction. I focus on creating $3.5 million of net worth for my clients in this 15-year timeframe. My focus is to understand the client’s requirements and to provide a solution. Therefore revenue only becomes the byproduct in the business.
Is there a particular area that you specialise in? I specialise in first home buyers, construction and developer loans.
Tell us about your radio show. I have been doing a talk show to give insights on residential lending and market updates. I conduct seminars every
quarter along with professionals like real estate agents and solicitors to educate the first home buyers and investors. Also, my active involvement in womendriven community events, sponsorships, radio, print media, seminars, webinars and presence on social media helps me as an entrepreneur to empower youth and upcoming mortgage advisers.
Do you make use of social media and / or new technology in your work? Yes. I’m very active on putting videos and promotion on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and my website (www.0800rachna.co.nz). Recently my Facebook Live with 106.2 Humm FM was very popular, with thousands of viewers.
What has been the high point of your time in the business? And the low point? I have been in the business for six years. In my first year, I was part time and I still did $10 million in settlements. Each year, business has increased by 24%. In the past five years I have done more than $180 million worth of settlements. Winning the Best Mortgage Adviser award in November 2017 opened the horizon of new opportunities in my career. I’d say changing lending policies around the 2017 election were the biggest challenge in my career.
Do you have a mentor? If not, who has most inspired you in business and in life?
Is there a typical working day for you? What does it look like? A typical working day is very full on. I prefer to be in the office from 9am until 2.30pm. That time is for application assessments, communication with the banks, referral partners, staff training and talking to the clients. I believe in following a 20 point day, five days a week. · Making proactive phone calls for new business: 1 point. · Calling any referral partner or professional network: 2 points. · Appointments made out of any of the phone calls: 3 points. · Working on new applications: 4 points. · Settlements on the day: 5 points. I make sure I achieve my 20 points a day. Between 2.30 to 6pm is my time with my kids. I have client meetings after hours, or on the weekend, when they are relaxed and able to discuss their finances.
What challenges – both for yourself and for the industry – do you see ahead? Covid-19 has changed all perspectives personally and professionally. There is a lot of uncertainty for small businesses. For first home buyers, the challenges are constantly increasing house prices, as there is more demand and less supply of the stock. For the industry, challenges will be to keep up with constantly changing regulations, Lending criteria, policies and licensing requirements.
I have been very lucky to have Gopal Sreenivasan (Newpark) as my mentor. He has been one of the most successful advisers and businessmen. I have also been inspired by Mukesh Ambani (chairman and MD of Reliance Industries) for his extraordinary vision and business skills, Indra Nooyi (former CEO of PepsiCo) and our honourable Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her remarkable work in leadership as a woman.
What are your biggest long-term business goals?
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Finally, do you have some words of wisdom, or tips, for other advisers?
My dad always says the day you feel you know everything and you are successful, that day is the beginning of the downturn in your career. So never let success or glory take over you. My mentor says to be successful you need to do only basic things consistently. Therefore I just follow those two pieces of advice.
Have a good understanding of why you are in the business and what you want to achieve. Create a business plan with the ability to pivot as per market conditions. Do basic things, but consistently. Know your numbers on your fingertips. ✚
My long-term goal is business sustainability. I want to lead an exemplary life and be a role model to many other women who are willing to be a mortgage adviser. That if I could do it, they can also do it. I wish to become that support system and empower them. I hope to reach $250 million-plus settlements for my team. And become more involved in community activities.
From I am from Mumbai, India.
Family I am married and have a 15 year old daughter and 10 year old son.
Out of work interests I love dance, cooking and art.
Film/TV show Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker
Favourite book Mind Power by John Kehoe
Favourite music Any soft classical or romantic songs.
Motto I will and I can.
Photography credit: Indian Business Awards 2018. WWW.TMMONLINE.NZ
COLUMNS • SALES & MARKETING
Keep them informed You will very much be the expert in their eyes, says Paul Watkins. Use your knowledge to reach out to prospects and clients in a meaningful and human way. BY PAUL WATKINS
arketing of mortgage services has only really had one big change over the last few decades, which is the online component. Other than that (though it was a VERY BIG change), it is a case of variations on a theme when it comes to gaining and keeping clients. However, the variations on a theme require matching client and prospect’s thinking at the time. At times you need to talk to them more, at other times, less. At times, you need a different message for key segments, and at other times, a revisit to a previous message works. At times, delivering online messages can replace phone calls, at other times, the phone is king.
Marketing messages for the new normal Right now, we live in a world none of us have ever seen before. Covid has caused dramatic changes to many aspects of life. Some strange consumer behaviours are taking place. With international travel off the agenda for at least another year or two, we are buying cars and spa pools like crazy, as well as renovating our homes. At the same time, many face anxieties about their jobs or incomes, retirement is apparently being postponed, and the move to working from home has been substantial. In many cases, this will become a permanent arrangement. In the case of your service, house prices are blossoming (many think at an out of control rate), and mortgage interest rates are dropping to unheard of levels. So, what does this mean to your marketing messages? It means we live 030
‘The “trick” is to inform clients and prospects of things that clearly show you as the trusted expert’
in uncertain times and people need information. It is a time to contact them a lot, and more often than usual. Facebook traffic increased by over 80% during lockdown and it has not dropped off much since, with informational items (yes, including fake news) being the most viewed. Blatant ads for your service are passed over quickly in almost all mediums. The “trick” is to inform clients and prospects of things that clearly show you as the trusted expert. Trust in governments, government agencies, lenders, the Reserve Bank and various businesses starts to wane when things go out of whack, as they are right now. And everyone has an opinion. So, who do they listen to? The most important point here, is that people want credible guidance from credible people, aimed at them. They don’t care about global messages, such as “The housing market is hot right now” or “Interest rates are at lowest levels ever”. What they want is the “How-to” bit, which I find to be remarkably missing
in the broker emails, websites, blogs and newsletters I see. As a first home buyer, tell me the key steps to financing a house. As someone wanting a larger home, tell me the steps in refinancing, and what I should be aware of. As an investor, tell me the howto of buying my first investment property. As someone wanting to renovate, such as adding a $100,000 pool, tell me the options, like how to go about adding this to my mortgage, re-financing it into a new mortgage or other options. As a difficult-to-borrow prospect (due to background) tell me how I can still buy a house.
Be specific Every item of communication you send must be aimed at a very specific group. Generalised communications have little to no impact, as they are not aimed at anyone. Worse, you won’t show up in searches within Google if you don’t. If I searched for, “Can I apply for a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal if my partner has previously owned a home, but I haven’t?” Who shows up at the top? Do this, and see what comes up. It’s not a broker, but a lender. Why? Because that lender understands how people search and has taken the time to write a piece addressing this specific concern. How do you know what to write? Google can tell you. When you search for a phrase, Google will offer suggestions under the title “people also search for”, and this is the clue. Look at them, ask yourself who most likely asked the question (first home buyer, mature buyers, etc) and then write a blog, newsletter or social media post
that specifically addresses this. Here are some examples of real and popular searches: “Can I use my KiwiSaver to buy into my partner’s house?”; “How long do you have to live in your first home with KiwiSaver?”; “Buying a house with a partner NZ”; “HomeStart grant”; “KiwiSaver first home withdrawal rules”; “KiwiSaver first home FAQ”; “Buying a house without your partner”. I know you could write answers to these with your eyes closed, as you answer these sorts of questions all day. So, when people search for these phrases (most searches are now phrases or complete sentences and not just individual words), do you show up? Does it lead directly to a page or blog article on your website that addresses the question? If not, then get writing.
Make it human People deal with people, and coming back to how we now live in uncertain times, trust has become the most critical factor in choice of service provider. Therefore, the next consideration is to make it human, which I have written about in previous articles. To do this, consider video (YouTube now outranks TVNZ 1 in viewership) of yourself, or writing as you speak. Avoid jargon at all costs and just like the Mitre 10 “Easy As” video library, look to explain in words of one syllable, how to get the money they are after and what to consider. Ideas can include “behind-the-scenes” looks at how lenders consider each loan application for that group of buyers; perhaps share your feelings (yes human emotions) about the housing and lending markets; or offer case studies of real
‘Sharing bad with good is a massively effective way to gain trust, as you are being honest, and it offers a lesson’
clients (names and some numbers changed). Include emotional terms, such as “I am a little concerned about how many people …” and “My feeling about the situation facing many home buyers is …” and “I just saw a young couple who … I was unable to help them as they had not done ...” Sharing bad with good is a massively effective way to gain trust, as you are being honest, and it offers a lesson. You are not perfect and can never give every enquirer what they want – say so! What I have tried to convey in this article is the need for trust building in uncertain times. You do this by not being a faceless machine. You empathise and put yourself in the shoes of the specific prospect you wish to gain the attention of. Information not ads is the only thing that works now in the current weird world we live in and the clue to what to say is in the Google searches. ✚ Paul Watkins writes blog content and newsletters for financial advisers.
COLUMNS â€¢ INSURANCE
How do you fund drugs not paid for by the government? Most clients are unaware that insurance can cover unexpected medical bills, writes Steve Wright. BY STEVE WRIGHT 032
Unambiguously Committed to Independent Advisers
’m driving on a beautiful day and five minutes later I am both sad and frustrated. Sad because I’m listening to another young mother caller on talkback radio desperate because Pharmac does not fund the very expensive cancer drugs she has been recommended. Frustrated because the radio host is asking in agonising tones, “What is the solution?” At the same time, I reckon there are many insurance advisers tuning in and shouting “health insurance”! at their radios. The question is, are they right? Unless you have access to lots of surplus cash and are prepared to spend it on unfunded drugs, it seems to me the answer is “yes”: insurance is a solution for many, maybe even most Kiwis.
Health insurance Health insurance is probably the most important type of insurance for protecting against unfunded drug treatments, as long as the right product is chosen. There are health insurance products available that don’t cover drugs not funded by Pharmac, either at all or sufficiently to cover a possible six-figure expense. The right health insurance will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for drugs and keep paying this every year as is medically necessary, as long as the treatment and the condition is covered by the policy. It is worthwhile remembering that health insurance, just like all insurance, only pays for benefits (mostly medical treatment with health insurance) covered under the policy wording. Health insurance does not pay for all medical treatments. You will probably be covered for treatments and drugs for conditions like cancer, cardiac conditions and a whole lot of other non-acute
problems requiring hospitalisation or surgery, but what about people with congenital or chronic conditions? Chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) are sometimes excluded generally by health insurance, meaning no medical treatment for it will be covered. Even those policies that don’t generally exclude MS are unlikely to pay significant amounts because treatment for MS does not typically include surgery or hospitalisation. So, while policies that do not generally exclude a chronic condition like MS may still pay for specialist visits and diagnostic test costs, they are unlikely to pay for expensive unfunded drugs.
‘Health insurance is probably the most important type of insurance for protecting against unfunded drug treatments, as long as the right product is chosen’ Trauma cover Where does it leave us then if unfunded drugs for conditions like MS are not covered by health insurance? Hopefully you are mouthing “trauma cover” while reading this. In some cases, where health insurance is not a solution, a big transfer of cash into your bank account (and it may need to be a big amount of cash, six figures at least) from a trauma cover policy can help fund your drugs. Naturally, if there is an income at risk due to inability to work as a result of your medical condition, this must be protected too, with income cover or mortgage repayment cover. I mentioned congenital conditions earlier. It is important to understand how “congenital condition” is defined in the
‘Whatever the definition, “congenital conditions” are generally excluded from both health and trauma insurance, so there are instances where insurance won’t be an answer’ policy, some policies don’t consider every condition present at birth “congenital” and will only exclude congenital conditions if these are discovered within four months of birth. Whatever the definition, “congenital conditions” are generally excluded from both health and trauma insurance, so there are instances where insurance won’t be an answer. Insurance may not be the perfect solution, but it does represent our best shot at protecting a great many people from the unaffordable costs of some drugs if we get the mix of insurance types right and select the right provider’s products. Trauma cover and health insurance are very complementary. Together these two products provide us with the best defence against the costs of unfunded drugs and dramatically increase the likelihood that it will be an insurance company paying for drugs not funded by government, not you or your family. I find it hard to believe the radio host has never heard of insurance as a possible solution to the lack of drug funding by the government. What a lost opportunity to raise the possibility of insurance as a solution to all those not wanting to rely on the government for something so important. ✚ Steve Wright has qualifications in Law, Economics, Tax and Financial Planning and is General Manager Product at Partners Life.
The TOP 10 stories on www.tmmonline.nz A lot has happened in the market since the last edition of the magazine. Here are the most-read industry stories from tmmonline. 01 HOW LOW COULD MORTGAGE RATES GO? With the Reserve Bank poised to offer more support to the economy, ASB economists predict home loan rates will plummet further into the new year.
02 NEWPARK SOLD TO A SURPRISE BUYER SHARE NZ has sealed a surprise takeover of rival Newpark Group, marking the latest phase of consolidation in the adviser industry.
03 LVR LIMITS WILL RETURN FOR INVESTORS: ALEXANDER The odds of LVR restrictions returning for investors next year are “fairly high” due to the strength of the residential property market, according to economist Tony Alexander.
04 ASB USING DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIOS ASB Bank has introduced debt to income ratios as a secondary test of borrowers’ income, as lenders change their processes after Covid-19.
05 HIGH LVR INVESTOR LENDING UP 134% Investors have taken advantage of relaxed loan to value ratio restrictions to borrow 134% more on high LVR terms, analysis from ASB reveals.
06 COMMENT: IS A POST-ELECTION MARKET SURGE LIKELY? Will the 2020 post-election period see the usual effect on housing, or will it be another anomaly, asks REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell.
07 LVR LIMITS SET TO RETURN
The Reserve Bank plans to reintroduce loan to value ratio restrictions on mortgage borrowers from March next year following a surge in the housing market.
08 ANZ RE-APPOINTS PENNY BURGESS AS BROKER BOSS Penny Burgess is to return to an adviserfacing role at ANZ New Zealand as part of changes at the nation’s biggest lender.
09 CONCERNS OVER NZFSG-KEPA DEAL Advisers have expressed concerns that a combined NZFSG-Kepa group would exert too much control over the New Zealand adviser market.
10 FRUSTRATION OVER HOME LOAN PROCESSING Mortgage advisers say their turnaround times continue to be much slower than direct home loan applications, leading to frustration across the industry.
TMM Online also has all the latest mortgage rates and changes. www.tmmonline.nz
To keep up with all the news make sure you check www.tmmonline.nz regularly. Or you can get the news and rates update sent to you each day by signing up to the TMM email newsletter.
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