Belinda Wright is Thinktank’s new Residential Partnerships and Distribution Manager, alongside Peter Vala. Wright brings with her 22 years of finance experience from her previous roles at Westpac, St. George Bank, ANZ and RAMS.
Q: After more than eight years with Westpac Group, you have accepted a position with a non-bank lender. Why?
A: Banks are big companies to work in, and making changes can be quite a difficult task and the culture can be lost.
The opportunity to start and grow a business while being agile and working within an organization that values its employees and customers is very appealing.
While Thinktank remains a leader in commercial lending, my appointment as Head of Residential Partnerships and Distribution reflects the significant expansion of our SMSF and residential portfolios. A recent marker of this expansion was the successful closing of Thinktank’s first residential mortgage-backed securities transaction for $ 500 million, bringing the total value of the bonds to $ 2.5 billion (the top six issued were commercial mortgage-backed securities).
I look forward to working closely with Peter Vala, General Manager of Partnerships and Distribution at Thinktank, to support our brokers and our team in expanding our residential business. Drawing on my varied experience in third-party real estate lending, marketing, commercial and institutional banking, I am delighted to have the opportunity to build on this platform for long-term and sustainable growth, in putting service and trusting relationships at the forefront.
Q: How is Thinktank different from a large bank? What are the advantages for a broker using Thinktank?
A: Brokers are looking for support, consistency and an alternative to the Big Four. Thinktank offers brokers the option of using a business that only supports the broker and their clients. This support comes in many forms, from dedicated account managers who organize every transaction to arrive at the best solution for broker and borrower, to a flexible range of define-and-forget loan options that eliminate arduous annual reviews. and regular evaluations.
We have also invested heavily in technology to further streamline processes. This includes updated SMSF refinancing requests, including an abbreviated loan option, to improvements with SLAs that still support our approach of personally reviewing every loan request on its merits – we do not credit rating transactions. .
As the majority of Thinktank loans are aimed at the self-employed or small business, many of our solutions are tailored to their unique needs. For example, our Mid Doc offering can cover commercial loan exposures up to $ 3 million with terms of up to 30 years. Our financing options also extend to solutions for PAYG and SMSF borrowers.
Q: What do you see as the key areas of growth and challenges for the coming year?
A: I think the pandemic is on everyone’s mind and how it will affect our market. From a residential perspective, we are experiencing a level of refinancing and expansion activity that we have never seen before, and this is an immediate opportunity. One of the trends is that first-time home buyers are being driven out of major cities due to rising house prices, and many feel that homeownership is becoming more and more inaccessible. This has led to an increase in the number of FHBs looking for investment property in other more affordable regions to gain a foothold on the real estate ladder, creating new opportunities for brokers.
While we see these growth opportunities, we are still very much aware of the many businesses and customers who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and the credit supply. We are committed to providing as much support as possible to help, for example by exploring a number of alternative income verification products on the commercial and residential front.
Q: What is your advice for brokers in the market?
A: While the past 18 months have seen brokers take out large volumes of residential loans, keeping a close eye on customer retention and income is essential. Indeed, more than ever, customers are drawn into the market with low rates and refinancing offers, and are more likely to switch brokers and lenders in search of a better deal. With attrition rates accelerating across the industry, you need to be in constant touch with your existing customers to make sure you retain them.
Diversification is another area to focus on. As BID’s 12th anniversary approaches, now is a good time for brokers to consider looking at their lender concentration ratios and how best to diversify their loan portfolios from a lender’s perspective, and not only the diversification of income streams.
I have also come across many brokers who need a respite from the record lending volumes, constant emails, and on-screen work that lockdown brings. Remember to take care of yourself and ask for help if needed. We just recognized and participated in the UK OK Day, which once again reaffirmed the importance of checking in with each other to make sure you are well every day.
Q: How can brokers find out more about Thinktank?
A: You can contact us directly or via the platform of your aggregator partner or the BDM team. For the sake of transparency, our website is unlocked and fully describes all of our products, prices and services. Please contact a Thinktank Relationship Manager who will be happy to prepare any transactions you may have.