Lender thrives in "underserviced" NZ market

by Madison Utley18 Apr 2019

Even with an SME lender’s recent expansion into New Zealand having “definitely beaten expectations,” the CEO is focused on what’s next saying, “our work is never done.”

Prospa officially launched into New Zealand in late March, but spent the six months preceding getting the product right for the market and setting up operations.

Just weeks later, Prospa has passed the $10m mark in funding in New Zealand.

“We were able to build our product, integrate it into the New Zealand network, and start the scale-up process over a relatively short period of time. In total, we think the New Zealand market is somewhere between $4bn and $5bn dollars per annum,” explained Beau Bertoli, co-founder and joint CEO of Prospa.

“When we first looked into the market, we saw that there were a lot of similarities to the challenges that small business owners have in Australia.

“It’s a very concentrated financial system. The banks, which are mostly owned by Australian banks, were not providing the right types of products and services that small business owners were looking for.”

Despite the half million small business owners throughout New Zealand, Bertoli saw very few options made available for accessing capital.

“We think there is so much opportunity, so much untapped growth for small business owners supporting the New Zealand economy,” he said.

“We expect that our products and services in New Zealand will have a similar type of benefit for the economy that they do in Australia, where they are driving GDP growth and creating jobs.”

The CEO told Australian Broker that a network of thousands of advisers in New Zealand is a key part of the lender’s distribution strategy. Prospa recently joined the NZFSG panel, one of the largest mortgage and insurance distribution groups in the country.

The New Zealand launch in no way slowed the momentum of operations in Australia. Just last week, Prospa announced a new business line of credit, as well as an improved small business loan.

For now, the products are available only in the Australian market while the core loan product continues to establish itself and grow in New Zealand heading into the second half of 2019.

Looking ahead, Bertoli said, “It was really exciting to grow through the $1bn milestone in Australia recently, but we still think there’s huge opportunity out there.”

“When we launched in Australia, we wanted to change the system and change the way it worked. That’s our approach in New Zealand too,” he concluded.