Self-employed specialist lender and mortgage manager Rate Money is on a rapid growth path and wants the market to know it provides highly competitive loan solutions for self-employed borrowers. The company has expanded from just three people in 2019 to nearly 100 people and 16 branches in NSW and Victoria today.
When CEO Ryan Gair and directors set up Rate Money, the goal was to be Australia's leading lender for the self-employed. They had a vision: to construct a self-employed lending model that would support business owners with their financing needs.
Gair told Australian Broker the business wanted to be different and ensure it had its own “exclusive funding lines”.
“There’s a lot of lenders that chase PAYG business,” says Gair.
He saw a huge opportunity for the self-employed borrowers of Australia.
Gair, who has been self-employed for much of his career, says there are a few reasons why lenders don’t understand the self-employed applicant.
“Their business can have quite a complex structure, and trying to get a bank or a lender to understand that structure can be very tedious.
“There was a big opportunity for the self-employed to come to Rate Money, who actually understand their needs – this is due to our diverse product range with full-doc and alt-doc lending solutions; more so with our alt-doc lending having a nil risk fee across all funding lines.
“The Australian dream has changed from the 1960s and 1970s when it was all about owning the home with the white picket fence and paying off your mortgage,” says Gair.
He believes the Australian dream is now about running your own business, and he says you can see that in the many people of different cultural backgrounds in Australia who want to be in control of their own destinies.
Gair saw a lending opportunity for Rate Money to save its customers by offering lower fees and cheaper rates.
He says on alt-doc loans strong customers with good equity positions and long-term self-employment were being charged risk fees and high interest rates by lenders due to not being able to supply their current financial tax returns.
“That’s how Rate Money started. We kicked off with two funding lines in July 2019, which has now increased to six different funding lines. In July 2019, when Rate Money opened the doors, it was with just three people, and we have now grown exponentially, having 16 branches based in NSW and Victoria and almost 100 people within our network.”
Rate Money’s vision
Gair says his vision is “to be known as the best self-employed lender in Australia, offering all self-employed Australians the opportunity to own their piece of the great Australian dream”.
“When a customer walks into a Rate Money office, they know they are dealing with the best in the business and that we understand the client’s circumstances and will go that extra mile in every way possible.”
Rate Money has grown the business to include 16 independently owned branches across NSW and Victoria, with plans to more than double that number within two years. The company is now concentrating on opening up in Queensland.
“We want to bring branch principals on board that have been in the industry for a long time and who see the opportunity of expanding and growing their business – offices that have a team of professionals behind them, which allows the branch principal to grow a big business themselves,” says Gair.
He says a self-employed applicant can come to a Rate Money office and speak to an experienced branch principal professional who understands them because they are also self-employed.
“They can help not just with the client’s current situation but also by assisting them in creating a better future as they build a relationship with Rate Money.”
This means providing diverse, flexible funding solutions.
“We have different rates for different customers, so we go to the customer that hasn’t done their current financials and is not up to date.”
Rate Money offers different easy-doc options that allow an accountant to sign off on the client’s income or they can supply their BAS and self-certify their income.
“Most lenders out there will charge a premium/risk fee for these types of loans,” says Gair. “Across all our funding arms we don’t charge a risk fee, which can save the customer tens of thousands of dollars on their application.”
Rate Money also offers clients the option of providing a one-year tax return and getting a cheaper rate.
“If you can supply two years’ worth of financials, we have a cheaper interest rate again, so for the life of the customer we can actually help better the customer’s interest rates.”
Multiple funding lines
When Rate Money opened its doors it was built on servicing self-employed people who were busy running their own businesses, says Gair.
“Self-employed people are time-poor; they need to speak to someone who gets the client’s situation first time,” he says.
“We wanted to make sure that we could offer all self-employed applicants different loans.
“All customers have different circumstances. Each customer is unique, and having only one or two funding lines means you can pigeonhole yourself with a lot of customers. All of our funding lines offer a different, unique product offering.
“We have six different funders at this current time, and with those funding lines they all offer a different policy and niches, so very rarely are we unable to help a self-employed applicant.
“We can do high-rise, we can do cash-out, ATO debt, and we can do large loan amounts in regional areas – the list goes on.”
Having multiple funding lines also allows the Rate Money customer to keep borrowing and purchasing property with nil risk fees, says Gair.
“Self-employed clients are so entrepreneurial, and a lot do not want to stop at one or two properties. At Rate Money, we wanted to make sure we could look after the customer ongoing. A lot of lenders have a cap at $1m to $2m, but as we have six funding lines we can lend up to $10m for each customer.”
“Rate Money has great relationships with their funders. Product innovation is something we are very passionate about, and we are about to launch our full-doc offerings in the coming weeks, which include high-LVR loans and construction loans.”
Gair says the Rate Money network has certainly grown exponentially in the last six to 12 months.
“The reason for the growth is due to the branch principals that we bring on within our network – their professionalism, resilience, their customer service, and the Rate Money proposition offer.
“These are businesses that have been in the industry for a long time, which means they already understand mortgages and can look after customers, and can easily generate repeat business.
“The exciting thing is we have never had to do any form of advertising or recruitment, yet we have 16 offices and almost 100 people within our network.”
Gair says Rate Money currently has 10 offices in NSW and six offices in Victoria.
“We are still looking to expand in NSW and Victoria, but we see a huge opportunity across the state of Queensland.
“The current prospect for us in Queensland is massive. They are a hard-working state with lots of self-employed Australians. We see huge opportunity in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast at the moment.
“We are very keen to open three offices in these areas in the next three to six months.
“Queensland has a great buoyant real estate market, people from all different walks of life, different customers, different opportunities and new growth areas.”
Effects of COVID-19
Gair says some people have asked how Rate Money coped during the pandemic, especially as it was a new business.
“COVID didn’t affect us negatively. During the pandemic, self-employed applicants needed someone who understood what they were going through more than ever and would take the time to understand their circumstances to help find a solution.
“Due to the great relationships we have with our funders, we were able to work together to find niche solutions for our customers.”
Gair says the solution was niche full-doc funding or loans that were “just slightly outside of the box”.
“Rate Money can use 95% of rental income, 100% of bonuses and commissions, plus Stayz/Airbnb income to make loans service, where generally the maximum in the industry is 80%.”
Lenders that could adapt to COVID and provide different loan options are now reaping the rewards as small businesses that downsized during the pandemic are ready to expand again.
“We can help give our Rate Money customers the chance to regrow their business using different funding options and our specialised knowledge as fellow self-employed business owners. Rate Money understands business owners go through ups and downs, and we always try our best to support their financial needs.”
What branch principals say
Natalie and Chris Moran joined Rate Money in February and are based in the southwest Sydney suburb of Fairfield.
“We decided we wanted to join Rate Money in mid-2020,” say the Morans. “We loved the idea of running our own business as well as having the support of the group behind us.
“We decided to join because of the support, and we went with Rate Money in particular, due to the exclusive low-doc products on offer as well as the variety of other lenders available.”
The Morans say “it feels good knowing we are helping people, whether with refinancing for a better rate, or helping them save money on their repayments and ultimately achieve their financial goals”.
“We love what we do, whether it’s getting a first home buyer their home, a client buying their first investment property, or a client getting finance to complete their commercial developments,” the couple say.
Chris is new to the broking space, having previously worked in retail for more than 10 years.
He says he wanted a change to help other people achieve their financial goals, and Rate Money was the perfect opportunity.
After completing courses and being closely mentored by a broker, Chris quickly built up his confidence and awareness of what is important to banks and in meeting clients’ priorities.
Natalie had worked in the industry for five years in the role of business manager assisting the principal, which equipped her with wide experience and knowledge of residential home loans.
“The Rate Money team have been absolutely amazing to work with, and they have been able to assist with any queries promptly and efficiently. You always feel welcome when speaking to everyone, which is super encouraging,” the couple say.
The Morans praised the company for “moving with the times” by ensuring many of their processes were completely online.
They say what attracted them to Rate Money was the team – everyone had been “welcoming, very personable and extremely helpful”.
“Opening a Rate Money branch was also fairly easy to set up. The team made it simple, and everything was set up quickly. We had great support, from setting up employees into the system, to IT and office branding.
“This support was wonderful and has continued to be. A few months in, and we are looking forward to a successful future ahead.”