Australian non-bank lender Bluestone has re-entered the New Zealand market, targeting self-employed people as well as credit-impaired borrowers with a range of new lending products.
Bluestone, started lending in New Zealand 15 years ago but pulled out 10 years ago when the global financial crisis began. During that time it lent around $1 billion, chief operating office Peter Wood says.
Wood says Bluestone has a facility of $150 million from an, unnamed, major Australian institution.
The lender has begun a “soft launch” with a small group of advisers across the country. It has an office in Auckland with eight staff.
According to documents seen by TMM, Bluestone is targeting self-employed and credit-impaired customers, and those seeking to consolidate credit card debt. It also intends to lend to recent divorcees, property investors, and startups. The firm is accepting applications direct or via aggregator software.
Wood says self-employed people are a key market and with credit impaired borrowers the company is prepared to “go quite a long way down the credit curve”.
Bluestone is offering four products tailored to the credit profile of potential customers, from Crystal Blue, a proposition for clear credit applicants, and Clean Slate, an offering for PAYE self-employed companies and trusts.
The company will also lend to property investors up to 80% LVR.
Wood says there are real opportunities in the specialist lending market. “It’s a real opportunity for advisers,” he says.
“Don’t miss the opportunity. If you don’t write it someone else will,” he told advisers at the recent NZFSG roadshow.
He also said banks are pulling back their lending and will be tied up in regulation for years. This presents opportunities for non-bank lenders.
Bluestone Mortgages is part of the Bluestone Group, which was established in 2000. The lender is a multinational financial services operation with offices in the UK, Ireland, the Philippines and Australasia. The Aussie lender announced its plans to return to New Zealand last October.
Bluestone joins the likes of Blackwell Global in the non-bank lending market. Blackwell, formed last year by the reverse takeover of NZF, recently raised a new funding line for Kiwi customers. Blackwell said its move was spurred by the reduced level of risk appetite from New Zealand banks. Other lenders, including RESIMAC Home Loans, have called for brokers to embrace niche customers who may struggle to access credit.