Sir Richard Branson’s local mortgage offering through Virgin Money Australia was built on thorough research of the Australian home loan market and identifying what borrowers really want.
Prior to entering the Australian mortgage market in May, Virgin Money Australia conducted some pivotal research by surveying customer attitudes. The survey provided the global brand with insight into what influences a borrower’s choice of lender. The majority of respondents said that the desire to “feel valued” and to be seen “more than a number” was far more important than price and rate.
Virgin Group chair and founder Sir Richard Branson, who visited Sydney for the launch of Virgin Money’s new mortgage offering, credits the brand’s customer-centric focus for its longevity.
“Unless you’re customer-centric, you might be able to create something wonderful, but you’re not going to survive,” he said. “It’s about getting every little detail right.”
Virgin Money Australia’s head of distribution, Adrian Cunningham, said this attitude made the group’s decision to distribute through the third-party channel “a given”.
“Our research told us customers would value the opportunity for a Virgin Money home loan face-to-face,” Mr Cunningham said.
“There are good synergies between the service provided by mortgage brokers and Virgin Money’s commitment to simplifying money and delivering a great customer experience,” he said.
Virgin Money Australia, which is wholly owned by Bank of Queensland, went live with NextGen.net’s electronic lodgement service ApplyOnline earlier this year.
“For us it’s about going to where the strength is and making it as easy as possible, so NextGen.Net was it,” Mr Cunningham said.
“One of the first things we looked at in terms of process and an operation model was how we receive loans. Brokers are familiar with the ApplyOnline platform and our principle is ‘keep things beautifully simple’ for everyone. So it made sense to use the platform that brokers are most familiar with,” he said.
NextGen.Net sales executive Greg Phillips said Virgin Money’s focus has always been to provide “best-in-class solutions” for the broker channel to drive efficiencies at the point of sales and reduce operational costs in the mortgage markets, a focus that the technology provider could understand.
“Upfront, Adrian made it known that they were looking for a technology partners, not just a technology solution,” Mr Phillips said.
Virgin’s Mr Cunningham says the lender is now actively working with NextGen.Net to improve the broker experience, ensuring brokers capture the right information and minimise the amount of times they have to go back to the borrower before a loan is settled.
Virgin Money Australia’s home loan is distributed exclusively through PLAN Australia.