New year will bring growth opportunities

by Gerald Foley29 Nov 2021

2021 has been a challenging year for brokers and their clients. Gerald Foley, managing director of aggregator nMB, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, looks at how brokers and aggregators should tackle 2022.

Across the globe, the impacts of COVID have been felt throughout every aspect of day-to-day life. The separation from family, friends, schooling and work colleagues has seen so many forced changes to the way we go about things.

With 2021 coming to an end, now is a great to time to reflect on this year and what we might expect to see in 2022 as we move into the next version of ‘normal’.

People

The move to engaging via Zoom, Teams or one of the many other platforms quickly replaced the face-to-face engagement we all felt was critical to doing business.

While you can’t beat face-to-face, what we have learned is that the convenience of finding 30 minutes to an hour to meet is easier when you can remove travelling time. Meeting online for business purposes has quickly moved from uncomfortable to convenient as everyone becomes more comfortable with this method of connecting.

Changing expectations of staff wanting to work from home will need to be balanced with the needs of each business. To be able to provide a mix of work from office and work from home will be so important to obtain and retain staff.

There will be challenges for many businesses to get their teams to return to the office. The important thing is to get them back in, then work out how some days of work from home can be managed. The businesses, especially SMEs, who get the balance right will become preferred employers.

Economy

The economic impact of COVID (directly and indirectly) will be felt for many years to come as business owners attempt to recover from lost revenue and increasing debt.

As vaccination rates climb and restrictions become less palatable (as much for the voter pushback as medical grounds), we should not see a return to lockdowns. This will quickly be reflected in business and consumer confidence being restored.

This will be great for the economy; however, borrowers may quickly fall into spending habits that could impact their borrowing ability as they splurge their way out of lockdowns.

Property

The property market will be interesting to watch in 2022.

There are clear signs that the pace of growth is starting to slow, largely due to interest rates creeping up, lending restrictions being placed on banks (with non-banks possibly to follow later) and supply issues for new homes.

With 2021 seeing national property price growth of around 20%, we can expect to this to drop back in 2022 to a still very respectable 8% to 10% range, particularly evident in the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Other pockets will likely provide some stronger upside, with any likelihood of negative growth still a few years away, if at all.

Borrowing

2021 has been a landmark year for new borrowing and refinance opportunities. It has been almost a perfect storm with discretionary spending down, interest rates remaining at historic lows and lenders offering cashbacks and other incentives. And we can’t forget the FOMO set who just couldn’t miss out on getting into their next property.

I expect in 2022 there will be some slowdown in lending – but still well above recent averages – with fewer refinance opportunities (in line with slower growth in property values) and lenders reducing their borrowing capacity and incentives to switch.

For brokers there will be many great opportunities to continue to grow their businesses, and no better time to maintain good contact with their customer bases.

If COVID taught us only one thing, it’s that in troubled times relationships are called upon, not created. Building relationships must occur in good or calmer times, so that when the need for assistance presents, your broker is the immediate go-to person.

Brokers and aggregators

The number and size of M&A activity in 2021 caught many by surprise.

A new year and fresh, post-COVID optimism will see many brokers look at the support and growth opportunities they have with their current aggregator. A new year is always a good time to review current arrangements.

Take some time over the break to list your priorities for the year ahead. Discuss them with your aggregator. If they are not aligned with your growth plans and able to support you, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

And finally, we are coming off the back of unprecedented challenges and workloads over the past 18 months.

Due to travel bans and a surging market, there has been little chance to stop and take a proper break.

Now is the time to plan to rest and get ready for 2022. We can’t know what lies ahead, but we can all safely presume there will be speed humps and potholes along the way, and we will need to be ready for anything.

Gerald Foley
Managing director, National Mortgage Brokers