In March, Melbourne non-bank commercial lender Equity-One was acquired by Westlawn Finance Limited.
Located in northern NSW, Westlawn has nine branches that provides a range of financial service including personal loans, mortgage broking, business loans, and insurance broking.
Equity-One managing director Dean Koutsoumidis (pictured) said it was business as usual since the acquisition had been finalised.
“When we met with the directors of Westlawn and their parent company COG [a finance broker aggregator and equipment leasing business for SMEs], the synergies between our businesses were instantly apparent,” Koutsoumidis said.
“Essentially, life is the same as before the acquisition with no change of chef in the kitchen.”
Koutsoumidis said Equity-One wanted to continue doing what it was known for and to keep growing.
“One of our objectives is to combine the synergies of the businesses. COG has an extensive network of brokers, and we want to be able to offer our services to that brokerage and add value there,” he said.
Koutsoumidis said when the acquisition happened, he couldn’t believe how fortunate all Equity-One stakeholders including investors, broker group, service groups and advisers were.
“There was nothing negative at all,” he said.
“Without a doubt, Westlawn have put more wind in our sail and as they have been around for a long time – they know what they are doing.”
Koutsoumidis said Equity-One clients would benefit from the acquisition by the fact it was still doing much of the same thing.
“We want to lend more to our broker network who refers us work across Australia,” he said.
“To be able to expand on what we are doing and doing it well. Westlawn businesses are also well established and will sit nicely alongside Equity-One. We have been around for a long time, and we plan on sticking around for a long time.”
The managing director said its strong suit is helping clients who are not bank ready yet.
“Our sweet spot helps commercial borrowers get on with projects when the banks aren’t dancing,” he said.
“We are not planning on changing who we are or who we are relevant too. It’s important to keep relevant and current with your clients.”
Equity-One will continue to deliver on its service of efficiently settling loans for its clients, its smooth after settlement service, and how it looks after people who want to discharge a loan.
“At each touchpoint there needs to be a good customer experience, and we are constantly mindful of that. We will not rest on our laurels.”
Koutsoumidis said in the non-bank space he had seen the market mature year in and year out.
“These days there is more choice for brokers and borrowers, and we see our brokers as professionals who are aware of the marketplace and offer a variety of options to well-educated clients,” he said.
“Borrowers have high expectations and are aware of market trends. People are savvy and have information at their fingertips about who they are contemplating transacting with.”
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