The major aggregator believes that its latest platform will allow a greater number of mortgage brokers to seize opportunities in the SME and commercial lending space.
AFG grew its commercial loan book by 14 per cent to $7.2 billion over the six months to December 2017. Much of the growth was driven by a 6 per cent increase in sub-$5 million mortgage settlements and a 26 per cent increase in asset finance.
One of the key milestones for the group has been the launch of its new commercial lending platform, AFG Business, which currently has a panel of 12 lenders.
“Our lenders are ANZ, NAB, St George, Suncorp, Liberty, Thinktank, Prospa, Spotcap, GetCapital, Scottish Pacific, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA, with more coming,” AFG’s general manager – commercial, Kieran Evans, told The Adviser.
“We have unsecured lenders, we have self-managed super funds, we have debtor finance, we have the whole range of commercial finance products,” Mr Evans said.
“Initially, the platform is limited to loan sizes of $1 million. However, we now have a number of lenders who will accept facilities up to $5 million through the platform.
“We’re very appreciative of the support of all of the lenders in embracing the future and moving towards digital commercial applications — that’s a first.”
Around 250 brokers have submitted deals through the platform since it launched just over six weeks ago. Mr Evans said that there is opportunity to improve broker penetration in the commercial space from the current level of around 10 per cent.
“There is real opportunity to head towards the same numbers as with home loans because the need of small business is far greater; small businesses really need help from brokers to get them choice,” the GM said.
“Small business really typically lacks love and focus from a number of industry players. Small business really needs more help with all aspects of their finance.”
AFG has seen brokers with no commercial experience successfully settle fairly complex commercial lending transactions through the platform. Mr Evans said that the aggregator gives brokers plenty of guidance with their initial deal flow and workshops more complex transactions with them.
“We are adding new lenders in all product families to increase choice, so we have working capital facilities, term loans, unsecured finance, self-managed super funds,” Mr Evans said.
“We are also expecting to launch our asset finance chattel mortgage product in April with a panel that will include a broad choice of product and risk parameters.”
James Mitchell has over eight years’ experience as a financial reporter and is the editor of Wealth and Wellness at Momentum Media.
He has a sound pedigree to cover the business of mortgages and the converging financial services sector having reported for leading finance titles InvestorDaily, InvestorWeekly, Accountants Daily, ifa, Mortgage Business, Residential Property Manager, Real Estate Business, SMSF Adviser, Smart Property Investment, and The Adviser.
He has also been published in The Daily Telegraph and contributed online to FST Media and Mergermarket, part of the Financial Times Group.
James holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and an MA in Journalism.
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