Non-banks get Covid boost

Non-bank lenders have reported a flood of new customers turned away by the banks in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as traditional lenders stick to conservative credit limits.

Luke Jackson

At Financial Advice New Zealand's latest webinar, executives at non-bank lenders including Resimac, Bluestone, Avanti, Pepper and Liberty said they had seen an uptick in demand and business from advisers. 

Luke Jackson, Resimac's head of New Zealand, said of the company: "Throughout lockdown we were getting lots of comments from brokers about banks and non banks, about them pulling pre-approvals. So the way we responded was to drop our rates and match the main banks and provide an avenue to transact."

Jackson said the lender dealt with hardship requests through the lockdown, but added "65% of those requests have come out of hardship now". 

Asked whether she had seen the banks pull back in recent months, Sue Griffiths, head of sales at Bluestone, said retail lenders "had absolutely tightened up, creating opportunities for us as a non-bank lender". 

Griffiths said there was an opportunity for advisers, but said brokers needed to properly position the non-bank process with their clients, and outline differences with the bank channel.

Matt Nauer, group sales manager at Liberty, said there was a "sense of tightening around credit quality" at the banks. 

"We had tightened up, but we've come back stronger and are seeing an increase in applications," Nauer added.

Squirrel's John Bolton, who chaired the webinar, said it was important for advisers to talk with clients about the differences between banks and non-banks, including rates and the application process, at the beginning of discussions. Applying to a bank, only to be turned away, led to "bloody difficult" conversations about higher rates, he added.

Bolton said there was a huge discrepancy between the major banks' lending appetite. 

"I had a deal the other day where one of the major banks gave me $540,000, and the other gave me $875,000. For the same deal."

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