NMB has claimed its sale to Aussie Home Loans was not an imperative, but a strategy to stay ahead of a changing market.
National Mortgage Brokers managing director Gerald Foley has told Australian Broker the company had continued to see good volumes, with a 10% increase in settlements and 8% increase in its loan book for the year. He claimed the decision to sell to Aussie, announced yesterday, was not made out of necessity, but because the offer fit the aggregator's objectives.
"Imperative? No. But it's fair to say we had a few people knock on the door. This is the one offer that when we had the general discussions there were a lot of positives in what they were looking to do," he said.
The "positives", Foley said, included the fact that NMB will continue to operate as a separate brand under its current management structure.
"For NMB, it means our brand can continue in the market. We're really comfortable with Aussie being behind us, but we're more comfortable that we're still NMB. We're not being asked to rebrand, and our brokers are not being asked to resettle at all," he said.
Foley commented that the decision to sell was ultimately one that came down to staying ahead of market developments rather than playing catch-up.
"There's a lot of talk in the market about consolidation and the need for growth and sustainability, and you have the option to get in front of change or to follow it," he said.
Aussie executive chair John Symond has predicted that aggregator consolidation is set to continue, as smaller players find the cost of doing business increasingly onerous. He said NMB will be the first of coming aggregator acquisitions for the company, and that aggregators purchased in the future will be rolled into the NMB business.
Foley agreed that the market has become more difficult for smaller aggregators.
"I do see a lot of the smaller aggregators wondering where growth is going to come from. It can't be a matter of just offering more commission. You have to have a competitive proposition on a lot of areas. It requires a different level of investment and engagement now, and it's important to have the capacity to roll with whatever changes come along," he said.
While Foley conceded that some brokers who joined NMB did so to purposely eschew a larger aggregator, he claimed member feedback had thus far been positive.
"The feedback from brokers ahead of the release certainly came across that they're very pleased, and they can understand why we've gone down this path," he said.
Aussie's NMB buy just the beginning