As the coronavirus pandemic develops, mortgage brokers have been actively reaching out to clients to outline their credit options, including Next Lending Solutions’ director, Tony Caine.
Following on from warnings from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the global health crisis related to coronavirus (COVID-19) will have “very real and significant economic impacts”, significant work has been ongoing to help ensure that Australia’s financial markets “continue to operate effectively and that credit is available to households and businesses”.
From a macro level, the central bank, regulators, Treasury and lenders have been meeting to discuss measures to facilitate the continued supply of credit to households and businesses, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already unveiled multibillion-dollar stimulus injection packages to support businesses and households.
Lenders have also begun announcing assistance packages for borrowers affected by COVID-19 and the financial services industry – including brokers, financial planners and accountants – is being called on to actively contact clients to outline their financial options in this changing economic environment.
Speaking to The Adviser, the director for Next Lending Solutions, Tony Caine, unveiled how he is approaching COVID-19 conversations with clients in regards to their finances in a bid to help them service their mortgages over uncertain times.
The Sydney-based broker and financial adviser has said that he has been actively contacting clients to see if they require any credit assistance at this time and to ensure that they are in a financial stable position and can meet repayments.
For example, Mr Caine outlined that he is advising his clients of a three-step mortgage plan that could help some borrowers “weather the storm until things get back to normal”.
This plan entails: getting homes valued to understand the equity in their property and trying to access a loan redraw facility in case of a job loss, redundancy or business downturn; storing away between three to six months’ worth of mortgage repayments into an offset account; and negotiating the lowest rate possible with existing banks, or refinancing to a lower rate and access cashback offers that they can put into offset accounts.
Mr Caine elaborated: “Cash flow management has never been more important than it is now. Everyone is tightening their belts and looking at their finances. As brokers, we are in the key position to outline the different credit options available to borrowers at the moment, and can ensure that borrowers have access to financial planners or accountants for any relevant financial advice, too.
“I think it’s important we’re having these conversations with clients around their mortgage situation and the availability and opportunity of redraws and offsets at the moment, to ensure that they are able to keep their heads above water and let them know there are ways where they can protect themselves a little bit,” Mr Caine said.
“We always recommend to all of our clients that they talk to a financial adviser or an accountant and ensure that they have the right insurances in place and the cash flow that they need.
“When times are uncertain, I think people do reach out for the certainty of professional advice – and the broking industry and financial services industry are best place to provide it,” he added.
The Next Lending Solutions director added that some processing times for loans has blown out, particularly with an increasing number of lenders asking employees to work from home, which could mean that “if you are applying for finances today, you might not get that money for 40 days”.
“We all have to jump on the front foot here and get finances sorted for our clients now, because the whole industry is about to become a lot slower in approving loans. It could become the new norm where, temporarily, it takes you three or four months to obtain finance,” he said.
“There is no better time to review rates; many lenders are offering really generous cashback of between $2,000-$4,000, so if clients are already doing it tough, or are about to, having a lower rate and a cash incentive has never been more important to them.”
The Caringbah-based broker added that, given the COVID-19 crisis and the advice from Australia’s chief medical officer about the need for social distancing, his brokerage had begun holding meetings remotely, via phone and utilising technology such as Zoom meetings to video conference with clients.
“We’re trying to make it as convenient as possible,” he said. “At the moment, not many people want to go outside – they want to do it virtually, and I think that’s the way the world market is moving in general, to be honest.
“The ability to be able to share your screen with people and show them all the options and run through the finance process means it is logistically easy for me to be able to do it at my desk and talk to them via video conferencing without having to be there physically, breathing on them.”
The National Cabinet, made up of the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers, has been set up and is meeting at least weekly to address the country’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
It continues to urge all Australians to play their role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 through personal social distancing and hygiene measures.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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