With a well-established presence as a leading non-bank lender, Liberty Financial is set to break into the retail space with a brand new distribution channel, bringing competition and welcome support to the broking industry
CONTINUING ITS support for the mortgage broking industry and positioning itself to deliver more choice to consumers, Liberty Financial is set to launch its new retail distribution channel later this year.
The non-bank lender has built a strong reputation with brokers for nearly 15 years and today offers a range of lending products, retail investments and insurance.
The new channel will be called Liberty Network Services and is expected to inject some much needed competition back into the industry.
In many ways, the move could not have come at a better time.
The current trend is seeing more market share going to the major banks, which is not healthy and will ultimately reduce competition, which is not a good outcome for consumers, Liberty Network Services managing director Brendan O’Donnell says.
“Consumers are looking for smart solutions, choice, competition, value and a sustainable brand that recognises their needs,” he says.
“Liberty benefits from being an established, independent non bank with skilled staff and an excellent range of products and services, which many consumers find appealing.”
The Liberty Network Services retail channel will be made up of brokers who own their own business but trade as Liberty Advisers. They have the option to operate from home, an office or a store front.
“The key to success is the execution of an integrated local marketing and sales plan which in some instances may include the need to have a store front. This will depend on local market dynamics and opportunities,” Mr O’Donnell says.
“We do anticipate opening a number of stores in each state over time.”
True to its word, Liberty is actively expanding its current range of prime lending, commercial lending, investment and insurance products.
These new products will be distributed directly to consumers through a nationwide team of advisers and mobile lenders.
As part of its expansion into the retail space, Liberty will be establishing itself in the market through targeted campaigns, but maintains it has no intention of taking on the majors.
“Whilst we have no intention of competing with the major banks in terms of advertising, we will be an innovative player looking to capture market share,” Mr O’Donnell says.
The new channel will also provide opportunity for brokers to grow their share of the market.
In addition to providing new products and services, Liberty Network Services will champion the broker value proposition in the broader market, Mr O’Donnell says.
“Brokers have always been and will continue to be absolutely invaluable to Liberty,” he says.
“They are a cornerstone of the mortgage industry and play a critical role in providing consumers with choice, education and support in what is a daunting purchase for most consumers.”
As part of its offering, Liberty will be actively looking to grow the broker channel by recruiting brokers who are new to the industry.
“With broker market share currently sitting at 41 per cent we firmly believe that together the industry can grow this to 50 per cent,” Mr O’Donnell says.
Heading the Liberty Network Services team, Mr O’Donnell brings years of experience from his time in the mortgage industry.
As the former chief executive of Choice Aggregation Services, Mr O’Donnell has learnt to appreciate the real challenges facing brokers.
Liberty has made sure that its latest offering is purpose-built to provide the ‘best of all the worlds’ for brokers, Mr O’Donnell says.
“We have developed a compelling proposition that breaks down the traditional barriers to entry and exit for brokers,” he says.
“Brokers want independence, client ownership, brand support, quality leads, direct access to credit, diversification, technology that helps productivity and marketing support that makes a difference to their bottom line.”
The company has already commenced the adviser and mobile lending recruitment process ahead of the September launch date.
The retail channel will provide advisers with the option to open their own Liberty retail store if they desire, and provide all the necessary support.
In addition to offering a broad range of Liberty products, advisers will have access to products from a panel of lenders.
By establishing itself as a key player in the retail space, Liberty will ultimately add value to its existing range of specialist lending services, an area the company is looking to grow moving forward.
Launching a retail distribution channel will have knock-on benefits for Liberty.
Expanding its operations brings with it further distribution of the Liberty Financial brand, increasing awareness and creating more business for the company collectively.
“We expect to do more business with our business partners as a result of this move,” Mr O’Donnell says.
“Broadening our distribution network is a good thing for everyone affiliated with Liberty,” he says.
“The increasing awareness of Liberty in the broader market will result in more recognition and more demand for Liberty products through our brokers, aggregators and strategic alliance pavrtners.”
Greater awareness will put the spotlight on Liberty’s prime products.
While the existing product range is already competitive, it is often overlooked by the dominance of the major banks.
The advantage with Liberty is in its individual service offering and deeper understanding of customer needs.
This approach is at the heart of Liberty’s proposition, and will continue to be as the Liberty Network Services division gains momentum.
“Within Liberty we talk about ‘looking from the outside in’ to ensure that we remain customer-focused in all our dealings,” Mr O’Donnell says.
“Liberty has an entrepreneurial culture, embracing innovation and challenging the conventional,” he says.
“This enables us to adapt to market conditions and meet the changing needs of our customers.
“Our products are benefits-driven and focus not only on rate and risk but also on process and after sales service.”
“With this philosophy we will continue to remain competitive in the market.”
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