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Non-bank embarks on journey of growth

Publication Date: Monday, 13 May 2024
This article originally appeared in Australian Broker.

Brighten Home Loans CEO Jason Azzopardi discusses the company’s growing success. It was recently recognised as one of Australian Broker’s 5-Star Mortgage Innovators for 2024. Azzopardi talks about how Brighten caters for self-employed, investors and expat borrowers, its growth plans, its aim to be brokers’ non-bank of choice, why it built its own lending platform and how it ensures fast, efficient service for brokers.


Kylie Speer  00:00:07

Hello and welcome to Australian Broker TV. I’m Kylie Speer. And joining me today is Jason Azzopardi, CEO at Brighten. Brighten has been recognized as a  5-Star Mortgage Innovator for 2024. Welcome to you, Jason. Congratulations. And thank you so much for joining us today.

Jason Azzopardi  00:00:25

Thank you so much, Kylie. Wonderful book to be with you.

Kylie Speer  00:00:28

Jason, you joined Brighten as CEO at the beginning of 2024, and had 25 years of experience in the industry across a range of well regarded institutions, what attracted you to the role?

Jason Azzopardi  00:00:40

Yeah, thanks, Kylie. Thanks for making me feel all I think Brighten’s at an inflection point of the development I’ve we’ve been very, very much in the development phase for the last few years. And you know, we really feel now we’re positioned for growth. So the ability to join an organization at a point where you know, we’ve got a huge target market, there a huge opportunity to take market share, and he’s ready to take advantage of that was a was a huge attraction. I think, Brighten’s relative youth, we’ve been in business for five years. And the advantage that’s given us is we don’t have the legacy systems that a lot of financial services, all the other organizations are particularly high online businesses have there, and they can’t develop off that. So we’ve been able to innovate really, really quickly. Without those legacy systems holding us back, we’ve been able to tailor technology solutions that the market means and the market requires, which will help us take advantage of that opportunity in the market. So the combination of where the business is at to take advantage of the growth and they will technology solutions we have as was a huge attraction for myself.

Kylie Speer  00:01:45

Brighten makes a point of being accessible for the underserved segments in the market. How do you overcome the challenges and deliver for that demographic, particularly the self employed investors and expats?

Jason Azzopardi  00:01:58

Yeah, I think Well, the first thing is understanding the market that you operate in and and you know, we’re we’re huge believers that we want to have a home loan solution for as many Australians as possible. And the fact of the matter is, is not everyone has simple financial scenario. For us. It’s about understanding what the different scenarios are for each customer. And then really trying to build a solution from a product perspective and a process perspective that allows them to to basically attain what they’re trying to do.

Kylie Speer  00:02:28

Continuing in this vein, another niche you serve as alt doc, how do you differentiate yourself to gain an edge over your competitors?

Jason Azzopardi  00:02:37

Along the self employed spectrum is a range of of customers with different income scenarios they can be self employed can be IT professionals, self employed, people with construction businesses, they can really people with corner stores. So there’s a range of different of customers out there that want to buy a home ultimately, and for us, it’s about again, making sure that the product is there further, making sure that our technology backs up that process. So making that as simple as possible for for customers. I think the key for us in alt doc is what we’ve also done that most of our competitors have not been able to do is we’ve offered our top construction products. And what we’ve been able to do is open that up for the self employed and people with different substantiation for their a car. And that’s been a huge advantage for us to be able to offer that to customers.

Kylie Speer  00:03:25

And 2023  MFAA figures show broker market share is around 71%. And pricing has vowed to become the brokers nonbank of choice, how far are you on this journey? And what further initiatives do you have in mind to reach your goal?

Jason Azzopardi  00:03:43

Yeah, look, I think there’s no secret sauce, I think, as a lender, where we aim to be one thing, and that’s easy to deal with. And that’s easy to deal with for brokers. And that’s easy to deal with for consumers. So for us is one can we make it as simple as possible for brokers and consumers? And two, how can we make it as quick as possible? And that’s through a combination of product policy and the technology we’ve introduced.

Kylie Speer  00:04:07

You have built your own lending platform for those not familiar with the technology side of the business? How big an undertaking was that and why is it preferential to buying off the shelf?

Jason Azzopardi  00:04:20

Well, I mean, it is a large undertaking, but sure, you know, I’m a big believer that the investment in in not just money or time is worth the ability to hire a software engineer sitting with an SME and the business and the SME saying this is exactly how an optimal experience works in our company and a software engineer being able to go away, iterate that and come back and and with multiple iterations between SMEs and then engineer. He suddenly really that only technology companies can do. So we brought a bit of that. That strategy into the business we’ve taken algae experts working with SMEs and building really what what looked like exactly how we wanted it. And what does that do? Yes, it gives us speed as we talked about. But it also allows us to structure technology to be able to generate data that we can one use to understand our customers, one to optimize our experience, and ultimately share that data with brokers to be able to give them market insights to help them grow their business.

Kylie Speer  00:05:26

There are plans to expand your footprint into WA, why now? And do you feel any other areas of the country untapped for pricing?

Jason Azzopardi  00:05:37

You know, I think it’s always been on the cards, I mean, who has a soft spot with me, I lived there for a few years, I’m a big advocate for the state itself. It’s certainly a very prosperous state as well. But it can easily get overlooked on the Eastern Seaboard, we’ve got over 1000 brokers of credit to be brought in there at the moment. So firstly, that’s a no brainer. Secondly, we have a market leading construction product, which I already outlined. And we are seeing that actually, the construction market in WA is very prosperous. There’s some very good construction companies over there who are building hundreds of properties there a year. Again, our outdoor construction product is a market leader in that our peers don’t even offer it. So for us, there’s a instant match between our products and the requirement of the market on a product perspective, but as well, it’s a state that we believe has huge opportunity, irrespective of being on the Eastern Seaboard. So for us, it’s just an example of our maturity as a business, not that we thought wa was ever not a strategy, it was just, you know, making sure that we grow in a really sustainable way. And then the time came, and more importantly, we identified the right talent. And that’s the key for us is how BDMS represent our brand, you know, to 1000s of brokers. And, you know, it’s very, very important that those that those BDMS are, have the right ethics and motto and are really willing to go the extra yard for brokers.

Kylie Speer  00:07:01

And finally, Jason, Brighten highlights its superior services and fast turnaround times, which is something organizations may often promise brokers, how do both of these attributes look in practice when brokers deal with your firm?

Jason Azzopardi  00:07:17

Yeah, I mean, well, today, it’s a combination of of technology and people we are overweight and our credit team in terms of people and talent, we continue to recruit credit, able to ensure we stay within 48 hours. So if again, we want to be easy to deal with, I mean, we’re on the path the best, we break it to be as simple as possible. And that customer anxiety that commences once an application is launched, only increases the longer they’re waiting to hear from us. So as I said earlier, there’s no secret sauce to it. We have a highly competent credit team backed by this technology that we were very fortunate to win the award for. But that’s really empowering the credit team to be able to manage their pipelines and make sure that they’re getting back to the brokers as quickly as possible.

Kylie Speer  00:08:05

Well, congratulations. And thank you so much. Once again for your time today. Jason, it was wonderful to hear your insights.

Jason Azzopardi  00:08:13

Thanks, Kylie. It’s great to speak to you. I’m absolutely honored to win the award. Were very humbled, and you’re very, very gracious for the recognition. So thank you.

Kylie Speer  00:08:23

And thank you, of course to our viewers for watching the latest episode of Australian Broker TV. We’ll see you again soon.