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Saving time with asset finance & BOLT with Ben Cuthbertson

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Ben Cuthbertson is a mortgage and finance broker with leading Adelaide brokerage, Iron Advantage focusing on residential and commercial lending. In 2016, Ben was named Connective Excellence Awards Best Newcomer and has enjoyed great success with asset finance in the SA market. Ben is a BOLT enthusiast, so we chatted with him about how he uses it in his business to save time and increase revenue. Here’s what he had to say.

How did you get started as an asset finance broker?

Finance is in my blood – my father enjoyed a life-long career with ANZ. He encouraged me to get an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and I worked as an accountant for several years. But I am a people person and was missing the social element, so I obtained more qualifications and started working as a broker in 2015.

The first brokerage I worked for was a member of Connective, so it was a no-brainer to stay with them when we started Iron Advantage. They have always been great with training, support and opportunities – Connective introduced me to the world of asset finance and I took to it like a duck to water!

Is there much demand for asset finance services in your business?

Asset finance is a great add-on for residential home loan customers, but for commercial customers it is a MUST. BOLT has made it possible to provide a seamless service to both.

We create a steady income stream from our residential home loan customers by putting a simple reminder about asset finance in their post-settlement information pack. Statistically, we know it’s likely they’ll want a new car within three months of buying a new home, so we want them to know we can take care of all their finance needs and not just a home loan.

Asset finance is also a great retention tool for our residential home loan customers. It’s a good way to demonstrate our strategy of helping them maintain a comfortable lifestyle and achieve their long-term financial goals at the same time.

Commercial customers are much more vulnerable to being poached, particularly by external lenders who often use their asset finance offering to secure a commercial customer’s entire business account. So, our asset finance offer helps us to retain them too.

Our commercial asset finance services are generally in high demand because without a broker, customers are susceptible to higher interest expenses and risk of over-securing their total debt. We often rescue commercial customers who have financial arrangements structured to favour the lender and not their business.

Our commercial customers also often require our assistance with upgrading trucks and manufacturing equipment – and these come with some hefty price tags! Our asset finance offer gives us the capacity to provide them with the sharpest rates and manage their ongoing serviceability, so they are capable of meeting the lending policies for their future lending requirements.

What percentage of your profits come from asset finance?

50% of our total asset finance turnover comes from small business clients purchasing vehicles and trucks, and roughly 20% is for business equipment and other business requirements like store fit-outs. The remaining 30% is taken up with private car purchases by our residential home loan customers.

I would say that only about 10% of our total profits come from asset finance. Having said that, we promote our asset finance services to our commercial audience and it attracts business. We’d also lose a lot of our existing commercial customers without an asset finance offer and probably many of our residential home loan customers too. They all want a ‘one-stop-shop’ for their finance needs and we’ve learnt that if we don’t meet that requirement they’ll soon go to another broker.

I like to think of asset finance not only as another income stream, but a highly valuable retention tool that increases our property lending profits in the long-term and in turn, our trail income.

How long have you been using BOLT? Has it improved the application process?

I have been using BOLT since Connective Asset Finance first launched it last year. I love receiving updates regarding new features and providing feedback on the changes they make to help them continually improve it!

BOLT has vastly improved the application process – we only need the basic documents to lodge and a lot of the time we already have them, so it saves us a great deal of time and effort. BOLT’s best attribute is its capacity to hand control back to the broker – it gives us better serviceability assessments and helps us to provide clearer information to our customers.

One of the other main reasons we use BOLT is that it means our brokers don’t require in-depth product training in the asset finance space. It saves them hours of time as they don’t have to learn about all the lenders and stay on top of their policies. The BOLT Team have a credit license and workshop each deal with us, ensuring we provide the best outcome for the customer and we meet our NCCP and responsible lending requirements.

If a deal does not work with one lender, the BOLT Team can immediately contact an alternative, so they can recommend a solution for just about any scenario. This saves our brokerage time and stress, whilst ensuring our customers always get the best service.

How would you describe your experience with BOLT?

BOLT has provided us with fantastic efficiency – we can aim to complete an asset finance deal in under 3 hours from start to finish. A deal like that may only generate about $1,000 in commission for us on the average $40K car purchase, but that’s not bad and compares well to the hourly rate you’d earn on a property loan.

More importantly, doing the deal means we will have safe-guarded an important and profitable long-term customer.

Can you describe BOLT in 3 words?
Complexity made simple!

What BOLT features do you like best?

Greater control is definitely the best benefit of BOLT from my perspective.  We like to give our customers the sharpest rates, so when the commission looks like it will be insufficient for us to spend our time on a deal, we can tick & flick it to the BOLT Team and still get a 50% commission at settlement for doing very little. Being able to spend our time on the most profitable activities is a big benefit for all the brokers in our business.

Serviceability assessments. A general gripe I used to have as a finance broker, was never being sure if a customer could meet the lender’s serviceability requirements when I recommended a product – potentially leaving me red faced. BOLT has a basic serviceability assessment feature that eliminates this issue. You can also request access to an easy-to-use calculator to use as a guide to confirm serviceability if you require more certainty.

Want to find out more about Connective Asset Finance and BOLT?

Simply contact your Connective Asset Finance BDM using the details below, or chat with your local Connective Broker Support Manager today.