Economy

Aussie’s John Symond’s new downturn growth strategy

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It’s been a tough year for mortgage brokers and the finance sector. But entrepreneur John Symond, founder of Aussie Home Loans, reckons the time is ripe to seize huge opportunities, build a war chest and start acquiring businesses. To this end, the 60 yea

It’s been a tough year for mortgage brokers and the finance sector. But entrepreneur John Symond, founder of Aussie Home Loans, reckons the time is ripe to seize huge opportunities, build a war chest and start acquiring businesses. To this end, the 60 year old will step back from day-to-day operations and move into an executive chairman’s role.

“For 17 years I have had a very hands-on role. I spent time with the salesforce, management team and employees 100% of the time,” he says.

“But I believe if we are to take advantage of this marketplace I need to utilise my skills where I can get the most bang for buck. We have a professional CEO to take the burden on the operational side and I can work with the management team to work out how to work out the best way to take advantage of the opportunities out there.”

Symond says when he kicked off the industry and introduced securitisation for the first time, others quickly followed and the market got very cluttered.

“About six years ago I became concerned about the credit market and changed strategy to that of a large mortgage broker with a diversified strategy of rolling out different products, such as credit cards, and that was a very good call. But now brokers are disappearing this gives us an opportunity to leverage our strong foundations and brand, technology and infrastructure to grow more rapidly.”

He says there are no specific targets shortlisted, but talks have begun. “We want to double, treble in size. We have 600 mortgage writers and many don’t have the financial clout and brand or know-how, but if they link with us, their opportunities will be greater.”

He says it will also help Aussie. “We have cumbersome infrastructure. If we can build scale it will help us become bigger so we can keep providing consumers with more choice.”

He says the company will need to raise the capital. “We don’t have the balance sheet of the big players, but we have a good name, a good reputation.”

How much will he raise? “Tens of millions or $100 million. It depends on the acquisitions” he says.

He says Aussie also wants to roll out more franchises, currently having 30 sites at present. “We want to go into regional Australia and open up more franchise shops to roll out more personal loans, credit cards, insurance.”

Aussie has 300,000 customers, he says. “We are not into small business loans, but that is something we want to look at.”

Symond says he has absolutely no plans to sell. “This is it. As an entrepreneur I have no other business interests, I am not a director of any other companies except a few charities.”

So what will his change of position mean to staff? “I am still going around flying the flag, opening doors and speaking to the media. I will just not be locked in my office or at as many meetings. But I will ease my way out and see how everyone performs and the company operates.”

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