How To Protect Your Practice

How to protect your practice in a rising Interest Rates environment. 

On the 3rd of May 2022 the RBA finally increased the cash rate by 25 basis points to 0.35%.  Let’s get a little perspective here – Interest Rates in Australia averaged 3.89 percent from 1990 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 17.50 percent in January of 1990 and a record low of 0.10 percent in November of 2020.

This was the first rate hike since November 2010.  I am not a betting man, but an educated guess tells me this is just the beginning. We can expect many more interest rate increases over the next 12-24 months as the Government tries to get on top of inflation.

The official inflation rate is 5.1% but anyone who buys food, houses, cars or petrol (i.e. everyone) knows the real inflation rate is much higher.

In an inflationary environment the cost of living rises way faster than wages meaning the money you have simply buys you less and sadly many people can’t afford the basics of life like food and shelter. Something must be done to slow down inflation. So, interest rates look set to rise.

What can you do in the face of rising interest rates to distinguish yourself?

Have an informed view – clients, particularly older clients, or investors relying on income, are going to be concerned.  This is going to be a front-of-mind topic.  Many will call you as their trusted advisor.  After all, you deal with money don’t you? Therefore, they will look to you for insight and guidance (note, not that naughty word “advice”, but rather guidance and reassurance).  Take time to read and gather some insights that resonated with you which you can share.  Very few of my readers are economists – and even economists get it wrong more often than not!  The important thing is to have a position and long after that is forgotten, you will be remembered for your considered approach and understanding manner.

Mortgages and loans are likely to get more expensive. – so, if you are a finance broker, refinancing existing loans to save customers an easy 1% will no longer be part of the playbook. But, locking a variable exposure to fixed at the right time may be a smart and very defensive play, or even a part into different duration fixed products can cushion the blow.  Start to scour the market for lenders who offer fixed rate offerings that may not have moved. Our rates have not yet, but they probably will from July when the full impact of borrowing costs are passed on by the primary funders, so you may even be able to move quickly in some cases.

If you are a planner, or work with a planner or accountant, take stock of how much interest rate cover your client has.  It may be that they are ahead on payments and have plenty of headroom, and simply quantifying this will give the priceless reassurance that is required that they can ride this through a series of increases.

What will it mean for your practice, brokerage or business? Deal flow will likely slow and you will need to accelerate new client prospecting because existing clients may be locked-in or only refinanced in the past couple of years.  If property prices stagnate or possibly reduce, then the average size of loans may shrink and commensurately so will your commissions and fees if you have assets under management.  So, time to start tightening the belt.  The banquet table is not as plentiful, and the feeding frenzy is going to ease up.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

As in all areas of life, the cream will rise to the top and the advisors and brokers who are smart and committed to adapting to rising interest rates will do well.

If you’re looking to profit from rising interest rates, here’s what you can do:

Early movers will get a jump on the rest and increase their volume over the next 6-12 months meaning they’ll make up for lower refinancing volume down the track. Plus, you’ll build loyalty with your clients meaning they’ll stick around for longer.

Acquire more new customers than ever before. Right now, interest rates are on everyone’s mind and clients are shopping around. This is the perfect time to increase your marketing. You don’t only need to grow “organically”.  Some will see the change in monetary policy as the time to call it quits and having ridden the downward cycle, they will dismount from their ponies and sell.  Here could be that golden opportunity to make sensible offers to acquire books and with them more new customers than ever before.

Invest in your own future now – you may be able to borrow money today while it’s still relatively cheap and particularly before the SME backed Government loans are set to expire on 30 June. The specialist fixed rate loans we offer are still available for brokers, advisors and planners looking to purchase trail books or hire more staff. An investment in your business now while money is cheap will stand you in good stead as interest rates rise and rise, because you can create a little war chest to go shopping.

Top Mortgage Brokers have systems in place to action the above with ease. For them it’s like switching sails on a sailing boat. The downwind sail is packed away and now it’s time to ‘tack’ their way through the headwind.

If any of the above feels like a challenge for you that’s ok, you can learn how to implement systems that make your business profitable in both declining and rising interest rates.

If you want to discuss how you can prepare for rising interest rates, reach out to our Head of Sales & Business Development Daniel Cordukes for a confidential discussion, you can reach him at danielc@trailblazerfinance.com.au.

Good luck,
Jeff

Jeff Zulman is the Founder and Managing Director of Trailblazer Finance, a specialist financial services lender offering business loans, valuations and M&A buy/sell advice, specifically tailored for Mortgage Brokers.

Start with why: Launching the TT Foundation

All great organisations start by answering the fundamental question, ‘Why?’.

At TrailBlazer Finance we provide specialised cashflow lending solutions to recurring revenue-based businesses, harnessing the value of reliable, stable and predictable cashflow.

While there is no shortage of businesses that understand the value in what we do, chances are, hearing our elevator pitch isn’t going to leave you personally inspired to “change the world” either.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t passionate about cashflow lending, we are, however our ‘Why’ runs much deeper…

At Trailblazer, we have tried to create a company culture of giving back.

Not only does the team engage in self-led social workdays each year – that finish with a WhatsApp frenzy of happy selfies and stories at the end of each day, but we’ve been supporting a number of charities since our inception. Our major partners in this area have been ‘Room To Read’ a non-profit organisation, and the ‘Humpty Dumpty Foundation’.

To further our mission, we are excited to announce the launch of the TT Foundation.

This charitable arm of TrailBlazer Finance has been set up as a vehicle to drive our impact further, allowing us to give even more to the causes that we support. Going forward, 100% of the Discharge Fees paid by clients at the maturity of their loans will be credited to the TT Foundation and distributed to a range of Australian registered charities, where we want to help to make a difference.

This significant milestone in TrailBlazer Finance’s timeline adds an equally great, tangible commitment to our ‘why’.

To kick things off we made the TT foundation’s first donation of $10,000 to the ‘Humpty Dumpty Foundation’. This has since seen the purchase of medical equipment that is already supporting babies in need at Bankstown Hospital (NSW).

We are honoured to be able to combine our passion for cash flow finance with our passion for giving back, and are looking forward to watching the foundation grow in impact over the years to come.

If you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to e-mail us at TrailBlazer Finance or call us on 1300 139 003 for a discrete conversation and insight. 

Viruses and Valuations: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the value of your trail book?

Look at the trials and tribulations faced by the mortgage broking industry over the last decade. Should we be surprised if the pandemic has had an impact on the most valuable asset your business has, and which you have grown over its life? Absolutely not.

As a company that has bought, sold, valued, and lent against thousands of trail books, we have eagerly (and anxiously) sat in front row seats observing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted trail book valuations over the past year, and here is some of what we’ve seen:

What climbs with COVID-19 cases? Arrears rates

Read More

Seven drivers of trail book value

Understanding the drivers and what they mean for your brokerage

For the mortgage broking fraternity, like most industries, 2020 continues to present a litany of challenges that colour the future with a particular shade of uncertainty that appeals to only the most hardened opportunists.

If we get down to it, how are the smartest and most adaptable mortgage brokerages adjusting to the myriad challenges being presented? And where are the opportunities to turn these challenges into upside and create additional value in your business?

Navigating the valley of death

One thing we have learnt from businesses who have teetered on the precipice and successfully navigated through the valley of death and out the other side, is they often emerged far stronger – and done so by embracing change not just once, but again and again.  Think Lego, Apple, Disney and Amazon. Each has used setbacks as catalysts for innovation, reinvention and disruption.

Mortgage brokers have also had to overcome their share of market shifting adversity over the last decade – be it threats to trail, regulation cuts, a Royal Commission and an ever-heavier compliance and educational burden. So those that are still standing have already had their resolve tested and proven their resilience. COVID-fuelled recession is just another round of fire, albeit an unprecedentedly heavy one.

Where is the value?

So far, we have not seen any notable negative impact on the value of trail book and mortgage brokerages from the current COVID-19 market maelstrom. But there has been a clear split in the pack with an increase in brokers leaving the industry. As a result, we’ve seen an uptick in stronger brokers approaching us for larger loans to fund book purchases as they sniff out opportunities.

We have identified seven drivers of trail book value and what you need to look at when buying a book or preparing your own business for sale at the optimal value:

1. Seasoning. This is the length of time individual loans have been on the book. The longer they’ve been in your book, the higher the value.

2. Underlying run off. This looks at how quickly the book is losing loans. Focus on embedding those relationships.

3. Arrears and clawbacks. Frequency with which clients slip into arrears or loans are clawed back. A potential challenge in the current market.

4. Growth in underlying loans. Growth in the number and value of those loans. Hold tight to the loans you do have.

5. Growth in trail. A growing trail book is a valuable asset, particularly in a time of uncertainty. Tap into gaps in the market.

6. Not all loans are equally valuable. A properly structured investment loan, for example, could be a more valuable asset than a residential loan. Write loans where you haven’t previously.

7. Underlying spread of lenders, borrowers and products. Focus on the mix and diversity. Concentration risk is a negative.

And a dollop of better, smarter, faster will not go astray

Innovation is not necessarily about scrum masters and setting the world on fire. It can be as simple as getting the basics right. If you look hard enough, there are quick wins out there both from a resilience and value-building perspective. Check out our five tips to help prepare your business for what comes after COVID-19.

Take two minutes to get a sense of your trail book value

Check out our free trail book valuation calculator to get a sense of the value range for your trail book today.

You can also download our valuations flyer for further information.

Banking Royal Commission: Is the sky falling for mortgage brokers?

Within hours of the Hayne Royal commission’s final report being handed down, I was inundated with calls from clients and interested parties, all of the mortgage brokers. Although their words were different, there was a common theme: “Should I be worried? What has happened to the value of my trail book?”, they asked uneasily.

With the Commission recommending the abolition of trail commission on new loans – and the sitting Liberal Government pledging they will enact this recommendation from July 2020 – it’s no surprise that mortgage brokers are concerned. But brokers needn’t panic.

Brokers can take comfort in the knowledge that our valuation methodologies have always focused on the value of the trail in force; with no presumption of the new trail being earned after the valuation date. At times that conservatism may have seemed draconian; now it feels justified. As long as the existing trail is ‘grandfathered’, it continues to exist and therefore remains a source of value and at this time no changes have been made to valuations algorithms.

But what multiple will people pay for that trail? That is a question of supply and demand. Market forces always trump theoretical valuations. In the rising bull-market we experienced over the past few years, books often changed hands at premiums to valuation. This is no different from what we’ve seen in the property market. If there is panic selling or a rush to exit, books may trade at a lower price for a while.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the Commission’s recommendations are just that: recommendations. Until the Senate passes new laws, their commendations are not binding; politicians can change their stance depending on constituent pressure (think Malcolm Turnbull and climate change); and with elections looming we don’t even know which party will be in power, let alone what will be traded, as politicians wrangle to be elected.

In the meantime, as long as funding lines don’t dry up, it’s business as usual. We continue to receive calls and emails from brokers seeking guidance, funding and exit options and buying opportunities. Brokers are resilient beasts (they have no choice!) so I expect that most will adapt rather than succumb.

I’m proud to share that only today we issued an agreement to acquire a book at a valuation agreed last year– so we are standing our ground and supporting brokers as they face the changes and transitions likely to arise out of the Royal Commission.

2019 is likely to be a challenging and scary time for many in our industry. And Australia may – depending on political manoeuvres – join most other countries in not paying trail commissions to brokers. While this could become our sad reality, it is not the end of the road for well-resourced and well-capitalised brokers. On the contrary, those brokers who are able to adapt are likely to flourish, as struggling participants exit, or are absorbed into larger groups, and the market thins out. Those with the means and the will to persevere will not only survive but very likely emerge larger and stronger.

Unlike the fictional Chicken Little who created hysteria with her scaremongering -“The sky is falling!” – I am confident that the Hayne Commission’s findings do not spell the end of the broking industry for all.

Whether you’re a mortgage broker, financial planner, rent roll business owner, accountant or other cashflow business, we can understand and support your specific business goals and needs.

Contact us

Suite 401, Level 4, 59-75 Grafton Street, Bondi Junction NSW 2022

1300 139 003

info@trailblazerfinance.com.au