Avanti becomes the second largest non-bank lender

Avanti Finance has grown to become the second largest non-bank lender in New Zealand.

It has achieved this with high growth year after year to produce a company with assets ten times larger than they were seven years ago.

This has been revealed in the latest survey of non-bank lenders by the accountancy firm KPMG.

Its total assets were $1.615 billion. While this was half the level of the leader, UDC Finance, it was slightly ahead of the next contenders, Latitude Financial Services, which was last year's second place getter, and Toyota Finance New Zealand.

And it was significantly ahead of known brands like the First Mortgage Trust, Harmoney or the Nelson Building Society.

“For the fifth consecutive year, Avanti enjoyed the largest dollar growth of total assets in the non-bank sector,” the KPMG report said.

“This was an increase of $363.96 million, or 20.09%.”

In percentage terms, Harmoney grew faster, but Avanti's growth has been huge for years, in keeping with its Italian name, which means Onwards, or Let's go.

The company has been in existence for 31 years and is aimed at people who often miss out on getting loans from mainstream banks.

It has just over 200 staff and focuses on consumer lending, personal loans, motor vehicle financing and mortgages.

It is primarily a so-called introducer-led business, which means it rejects a bricks-and-mortar identity in favour of taking requests from people needing finance such as mortgage advisers or motor vehicle sales staff. It is not a deposit taker, and gets its capital from the wholesale money markets.

Avanti's CEO, Mark Mountcastle, says the company has grown fast since he joined it seven years ago, when its balance sheet was about $150 million, one tenth of its current level.

“The way we went about (getting this growth) was by cultivating the long standing relationship we had with our introducer base, and broadening our product offering to increase our relevance, and give a service to a broader client group.

“In the finance market there are limited opportunities outside of the main banks. We are one of them and we want to extend our reach.”
Mountcastle adds his company might be second in ranking, but the leader, UDC, is owned by Japan's Shinsei Bank, while his firm is a New Zealand company.

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