A digital lender has appointed its first national manager for broker distribution to help develop its broker offering and mortgage product set to launch next year.
Digital lender 86 400, a wholly owned entity of payments solution business Cuscal, has appointed George Srbinovski, AFG’s senior recruitment and portfolio manager NSW/ACT, as its national manager of broker distribution.
While the lender is yet to officially launch (86 400 is expecting to be launched in the first quarter of 2019, after it is granted a full banking licence), CEO Robert Bell has told The Adviser that it has appointed a national manager for broker distribution to help develop and deliver its broker strategy and build a broker-friendly mortgage product.
Building on his comments regarding the criticality of the broker channel made earlier this year, Mr Bell told The Adviser: “Our intention and our plan is to launch mortgages within about three to six months from launching the actual bank. So, our first priority is transactions and savings accounts, closely followed by mortgages.
“Our strategy, from day one, is to distribute mortgages through brokers. When we look back at banking in the last 10 years, we think the single biggest driver at this point (in terms of competition) has been mortgage brokers in Australia and the growing role they've played. They are now writing more than 50 per cent of mortgages in Australia, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon."
Speaking about Mr Srbinovski's appointment, Mr Bell said: “You might ask why we have employed George now, seeing as it is three to six months before we actually have a product in market. But, for us, it is really important that we have someone experienced in that channel working with us now to make sure that we’re doing all the things in our product build to make sure that the product we launch works in the marketplace.
“Having George on board early is really important for engaging with aggregators, but I think the most important role he is playing in this early stage is bringing the broker voice to our product build,” he said.
The CEO of the digital lender noted that while the company was “very technology-driven”, the reason people go to brokers is “to deal with someone face to face that they can trust” and who can “guide them through a complex process”.
“Australians are still quite cautious in terms of appropriately dealing with what is probably the biggest financial decision of their life, buying a home or taking out a new loan or refinancing,” Mr Bell told The Adviser.
“So, our view is that the more face-to-face time we can give a broker to spend with their customers, that is less time spent doing paperwork, which is good for their business and good for the quality of advice that they can give.”
According to the neo-lender’s CEO, the lender is therefore concentrating on offering a smooth digital experience for brokers so that it “makes the fulfilment of a loan as easy as possible for the customer, through a broker.”
He elaborated: “Having a broker spending hours trawling through paper-based statements to work out an accurate picture of expenses is not really a good use of a brokers’ time. Technology can do that.
“We’re aiming to be a digital bank, and so therefore we need to make sure that we provide a service to brokers that is very digitally led,” Mr Bell concluded.
The appointment of Mr Srbinovski has expanded the 86 400 team to more than 80 people. Its board of directors includes Akiko Jackson (former Westpac, Shinsei Bank in Japan, CommBank advisor) and Belinda Cooney (Macquarie, PwC and Macquarie Group).
[Related: New digital bank to offer home loans]