Leading mortgage broker says Aussies should surf the property wave
Leading mortgage broker says Aussies should surf the property wave
As a senior executive of one of Australia's most well-known names in home lending, there’s few people in the country better placed to share their insights into the nation’s property market and finance landscape than Brad Cramb.
A local of Freshwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, when not surfing with his two boys, Mr Cramb heads up the distribution arm of Lendi Group as divisional CEO.
Between sets at his main break and meetings at the office, Mr Cramb took time out for a chat to Australian Property Investor Magazine.
The wide-ranging discussion covered everything from his own career that has ranged from the motoring industry to home lending, operating within a turbulent business environment, to the future of the Australian property based on findings surrounding the past 30 years of market evolution.
API Magazine: How long have you been with Lendi Group and what path took you there?
Brad Cramb: I joined (retail mortgage broker) Aussie in 2017 before the merger with Lendi that formed the Lendi Group.
I started my career close to 30 years ago, having graduated from University of Technology Sydney with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing and Finance) and a graduate diploma from the Australian Institute of Directors with order of merit.
My career has seen me step into diverse and extensive executive roles across highly competitive markets and franchise industries. From driving retail sales teams to Chief Marketing Officer with Toyota in the automotive market to Executive in charge of Sales and Distribution at Aussie – having successfully established innovation divisions, led company-wide reform projects, and created new business models.
Irrespective of the industry, over my career I have found there are key aspects of success that remain consistent, which centres on having passionate and talented people that work to high standards towards a common goal.
Tell us a bit about your role and what is meant by ‘Distribution’. What’s a working day in the life of the CEO of Distribution involve?
At an operational level, the structure of Lendi Group is made up of three business divisions; lending, distribution, and platform.
I head up the distribution arm of the business as divisional CEO. It’s my responsibility to bring to market an unmatched omnichannel broker value proposition encompassing the Aussie Mobile Broker and Retail Franchise network alongside Lendi’s Home Loan Specialist and Consultant teams, backed by an industry leading platform offering.
What is the present-day relationship between Lendi and Aussie Home Loans?
Aussie and Lendi were both founded as market disruptors with a common aim to help Australians get access to better deals, better rates and better information on their home loans.
David Hyman and his fellow co-founders, Sebastian Watkins, Martin Lam and Mark Kalajzich, started Lendi in 2013 with a mission to change the way Australians got home loans by challenging the status quo in the mortgage market. The Lendi platform was launched in 2016.
Aussie was founded in 1992 by John Symond to bring competition to the Australian home lending industry and since then has helped more than 1.5 million customers find a home loan.
In 2021, Lendi and Aussie merged to create Lendi Group. Today, Lendi Group is home to Australia's number one home loan platform, a network of more than 1,300 brokers, a head office team of more than 600, a loan book in excess of $80 billion and a retail footprint of more than 230 stores across the country.
With two years of Covid, a soaring property market and constantly evolving government guarantee schemes, how have the past couple of years differed from an operational, marketing and business perspective compared to previous years, and is ‘normality’ returning?
Despite navigating the turbulence in the market brought on by the impacts of the pandemic, the growth of the group has been stronger than ever and we’re on the cusp of a new era of growth.
Over the past two years, our network of brokers adapted rapidly to meet customers’ needs in the height of the pandemic – this included making arrangements to meet with customers virtually and working closely with lenders as they also evolved their offerings during this time.
Importantly, we did not pull back our efforts during the pandemic, we have continued to grow our network and have been able to recruit some high-calibre individuals, including those from outside the finance industry, ranging from hospitality, retail, and aviation – all of whom offer highly transferrable skills across both sales and customer service and are now seeing great success as they now build and grow their own broking businesses.
Lendi Group has seen strong performance in the first half of this financial year. Across both the Aussie and Lendi brands we are well ahead of target, setting a strong foundation to navigate the upcoming election and the prospect of rate rises.
The 2021 financial year was Aussie’s best ever and the momentum has not slowed in 2022. For the last 14 months, Aussie has achieved record settlement results and in January total settlements were up over 40 per cent year-on-year.
The last 30 years have shown us just how important property a long-term wealth creation strategy is for Australians.
- Brad Cramb, CEO of Distribution at Lendi Group
What are the key findings of Aussie’s Progress report, which looks back on the last three decades of the Australian property market?
According to the Aussie Progress Report, commissioned by Aussie and developed by CoreLogic, the Australian housing market has delivered remarkable capital growth to Australian homeowners over the last three decades.
- The most recent upswing in the Australian housing market has produced the highest annual rate of growth in housing values for the past 30 years.
- Australian house values increased 414.6 per cent in the past 30 years, compared to growth of 293.1 per cent across Australian units.
- Over this period, there have been seven periods of sustained increase in values at the national level, and seven periods of decline.
- Value increases over the course of these growth cycles have an average length of 41 months with average cumulative growth of 34 per cent, while periods of peak-to-trough declines have on average lasted 12 months, with an average fall in values of -4.3 per cent.
Ultimately, Aussie’s Progress Report highlights the opportunities at hand by taking the plunge and getting into the market when and where you can. We know the current conditions won’t last forever but the last 30 years have shown us just how important property a long-term wealth creation strategy is for Australians.
Do property market trends over the last three decades offer any insight into the coming years?
Trying to pick what the market will do in the short-term can be distracting for homebuyers and we know that the market has defied expectations so far since the beginning of the pandemic.
The last thirty years have shown us that property prices will invariably go up over time, and so we encourage Australians not to get caught up in this short-term thinking and take a step in to the property market when they can.
Do you have any tips and insights for those looking to secure a property in 2022?
With lending conditions still favourable and the extension of various schemes in the recent federal budget there are pockets of good opportunity for buyers.
Australians should make the most of all the help and information that’s available to them. Whether you’re a first home buyer aiming to get a foot on the property ladder, or a seasoned investor looking to expand your portfolio, it’s important to have the right long-term strategy in place.
Regardless of your property and mortgage goals, getting in touch with your local broker is a great way to get started.
Mortgage brokers and property experts exist for a reason – buying a home is not always straightforward. Even if you consider yourself to be relatively savvy about the process, speaking to a broker can help you navigate your options, understand the choices available to you, and outline the lending options that are out there.
What do buyers need to consider when purchasing their first home and do they need to compromise to get a foot in the door?
It’s important to have a long-term strategy in place and for those struggling to get into the market that may involve compromising on location or property features to get a foot on the ladder.
Researching the location you want to buy in and inspecting as many properties as possible will give a better understanding of property values. Buyers should also consider widening their search, as property prices may be more affordable just a few suburbs away from their preferred location.
Are there any Lendi Group technical innovations or visions for the next few years as a company?
Our aim is to ultimately transform the stressful, disjointed and sometimes overwhelming journey of financing a property into a friction-free experience for everyone involved. Currently we’re laser focused on enhancing the capabilities of our Aussie brokers through Lendi’s proprietary platform technology.
Once the underlying platform and technology that powers the Lendi brand has been built to also service the Aussie broker network, our brokers will be empowered to deliver better and faster outcomes for customers.
Have you applied the lessons above in shaping your own property portfolio?
I’ve always held the view that property is a long-game, and you have to be in it to reap the rewards. I bought my first property when I was 21 and used the rentvesting approach to enter the market sooner – as I knew this would allow me with flexibility around where I wanted to live at the time and was a sound long-term strategy for building wealth.
Over the years, I have been strategic about building my property portfolio, both as an investor and owner occupier and by making the right investments at the right time I have been able to reach my personal goals and meet my evolving needs as my family has grown over the years.