Lending in a fast-paced world, Dean Koutsoumidis of Equity-One still likes to keep things simple.
Who is Equity-One?
Equity-One is one of Australia’s most respected non-bank SME commercial property lenders. With more than two decades of experience, Equity-One focuses on providing property funding for borrowers whose commercial banks are not being…commercial.
What type of funding do you provide?
Our focus has essentially remained unchanged, that is, providing property funding solutions that are simple and relevant to its clients.
We offer first and second mortgage loans, typically for 12-month terms. While our interest rates are fixed, the loans can be paid out anytime, just as you can with a variable rate loan, with no break costs. Our products offer a solution for short-term needs, without the short-term pricing usually associated with similar contracts in the space. Loan servicing can be satisfied in a number of ways, all of which are “light doc.”
What is your experience in the SME finance sector?
Lending to SMEs is the only thing we do, so we are proud of our experience in this area. Over the years, the conversation we have with our brokers, and respective borrowers, has not changed. Despite the industry having evolved, and the speed with which business is done has changed, some things have remained the same: the conversation with our clients. I come from a financial planning background, however, I soon discovered the world of non-bank lending, or private lending, as it was commonly dubbed.
How do you work with brokers?
Most of the borrowers are referred to Equity-One via brokers, so customer service and the experience for borrowers are equally important as that of the brokers that represent them. We all know that good outcomes reflect squarely on the broker, and vice versa, so we focus on ensuring the transactions are as simple and seamless as possible at all touchpoints. Our broker network is highly valued because it is they who are the face of the borrower at the point the transaction is introduced. Great relationships with brokers equals great opportunities.
What would your ideal client look like?
Our borrower profile would typically be “bank quality, but not bank ready”. Most common scenarios are when borrowers have good relationships with their bank, but for one reason or another, the bank doesn’t want to come to the party. That’s when we get our dancing shoes on.
What features do your loans have that separate them from others on the market?
I guess it’s the service. When you call us, you will speak to the people who make the decisions. It’s old-fashioned, but just as important today as it was when we started. From a feature perspective, the fact that borrowers can love us and leave us any time they want is very important. While we would love to retain our borrowers for as long as possible, we understand that that is not our purpose.
How quickly can you turn around a deal?
Fast, of course. We provide quotes/terms sheets on the day. Also, once we receive an application, approvals are emailed that day, too. Finally, mortgage documents are prepared within 24–48 hours and can be signed electronically (in most states).
What type of demand are you seeing for commercial loans at the moment?
We are seeing a steady flow of quality inquiry. Naturally, interest rates are one of the main concerns of borrowers currently, particularly for those coming out of fixed rates that were set 12–24 months ago. We are available to our clients to help work through their credit options.
Do you expect this to increase/decrease?
It comes in ebbs and flows as the market goes through its cycles. We have seen several new non-bank participants come in recent years, but as the landscape matures, there may be a period of consolidation, too. Our focus will be on doing what we are good at and ensuring we are relevant to our clients.
What advice would you give to a broker looking to begin offering commercial finance?
It all starts with a conversation. When engaging with your borrower, the magic happens in the listening. Just having a conversation and listening to what they want, whether you can procure it for them or not, will make you stand out from many other brokers. The relationship is very important. From the funding side, a small selection of majors and a few non-banks should serve most of your clients’ requirements. So keep it simple and have good lenders around you who you can lean on for assistance. We encourage our brokers to workshop scenarios with us, to see if outcomes can be achieved. If you’re a new broker, don’t hesitate to ask for this help from your lender. It’s what we are here for.
Credit to The Adviser Magazine
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