How Aussie Home Loans transformed the lending market by putting the customer first.
It’s 26-years since Aussie Home Loans’ founder John Symond tackled the big banks to become Australia’s first non-bank home loan lender. In doing so, he changed the lending landscape forever.
In 1992 Symond was a man with a dream and a mission: to bring about affordable lending conditions to all Australians. Armed with financial prowess and a simple slogan of ‘We’ll save you’, Symond launched an assault on the major banks to bring about low interest rate loans. It was a David and Goliath battle. Yet, Symond’s competitive strategies soon saw him making headway.
From the very beginning, Symond wanted to do things differently, offering customers low interest rate loans without all the usual fees and charges. By introducing the securitisation of home loans, Aussie was able to offer interest rates up to three per cent cheaper than its competitors. It was groundbreaking stuff. When Aussie offered the same interest rates to owner-occupiers and investors, property flippers flocked to the lender in droves. No wonder the big banks were nervous.
While the banks offered the standard ‘business’ hours and appointments in their branches, Aussie changed the state of play by providing an in-home service with professional loan consultants. The ‘we come to you’ strategy worked a treat, changing the game for customers and vastly improving convenience and accessibility.
Symond’s profile as a consumer champion continued to grow as he challenged the big banks with his outspoken approach. Speaking to Talking Business several years ago, Symond commented: “I had a strong team around me and a small team then, we were passionate about trying to give Australians a fair go, and the banks were getting away with blue murder in those years. Consumers heard from me things they were already thinking, and I guess I developed the brand, and I’m very proud to have played a very important role.”
It’s this customer-centric approach that has seen Aussie go from strength to strength. In 2002 Aussie delivered choice to its customers by evolving from a single home loan provider to a mortgage broker. Symond likened the new offering to that of a “big supermarket of mortgage broking” whereby Aussie was able to offer thousands of home loans from a panel of leading lenders.
A few years later Aussie dramatically scaled up its retail channel by acquiring Wizard Home Loans, adding some 150 franchises and over 300 mortgage brokers. It seemed Aussie could do no wrong.
Then the GFC hit, crippling many non-bank lenders. But not Aussie. While its competitors crumbled, Aussie fought on.
In 2008, the Commonwealth Bank acquired a 33 per cent stake in Aussie, which it increased to 80 per cent in 2012 and then 100% ownership in 2017, though Aussie continues to be operated as a standalone business that offers incredible business opportunities for its franchisees and brokers, and delivers great outcomes for its customers.
Today, Aussie is Australia’s leading mortgage broker. John Symond remains as Chairman, with the company being led for several years by Chief Executive Officer James Symond, who remains focused on Aussie’s mission to be the best home loan provider on the planet.