Pepper Money NZ Shares Vision for Growth

Pepper Money NZ Country Head Campbell Smith talks about how he landed his new role and what attracted him to the post, the firm’s plan to cement their presence in the New Zealand marketplace, and the opportunities present for non-bank lenders in the current climate.

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Antony: [00:00:19] Welcome to New Zealand Adviser TV. My name is Antony Field. Today I'm here with Campbell Smith, the new country head of Pepper Money, New Zealand. Hi Campbell. How are you? Welcome to New Zealand Adviser TV.

Campbell: [00:00:30] Good morning, Antony. Thank you and good to be here.

Antony: [00:00:34] That's great. So I just wanted to start by asking you about if you can give NZ Advisor viewers, a brief insight into your career.

Campbell: [00:00:44] Yeah. Thanks, Antony. Look, after finishing my university degree in business, what was many moons ago? I kicked off my career in the New Zealand property finance industry, working for one of the largest property financiers at the time. As I'm sure many watching this video will recall that industry had its challenges through the GFC. And as a consequence, I ultimately ended up working for some of the advisory firms. That was an enjoyable experience and a good experience for me, but wanted to get my way back to a commercial function or a commercial role. And from there I found an opportunity with one of New Zealand's major banks and again, another great opportunity leading a strong team of high performing financiers in the corporate and institutional space. But I found myself longing to return to the non-bank sector from that role. I was very fortunate to be headhunted for a role with a major non-bank here in New Zealand. Worked for them for a period of time but in most recently was thereafter asked to come and head up LeasePlan in New Zealand and was there until we sold the business late last year. Obviously looking for something to do. I was canvassing the opportunity for the right opportunity for me and was fortunate enough to come across this fantastic role with pepper money in New Zealand and thereafter fortunate enough to be offered the role. And here I am today.

Antony: [00:02:18] Thanks, Campbell. So what attracted you to this leadership role at Pepper Money New Zealand.

Campbell: [00:02:24] I like the Pepper story onshore here in New Zealand. I do see it as a bit of a challenge at brand, but with the balance sheet and behind it by way of our Australian parents and the support that the Australian office can offer us by way of technology, by way of funding, and of course most importantly by way of the people, the people that's available to me to support me in my role and the people that are available to our customers and our brokers to support them in their endeavours. So really it was the complete package.

Antony: [00:02:53] Thank you for that, Campbell. So you've been in the job just a few months now. How's the job going so far?

Campbell: [00:02:59] Oh, look, fantastic. I'm certainly not short of things to do, but that's because of the wealth of opportunity that's before us, both within the Pepper Money business and the many things we need to do to continue to innovate and build our business and improve our offering to our brokers and our customers. But of course, also out there in the broker market, I think Pepper is ultimately, if we're honest with ourselves, still subscale here in New Zealand. And there's a lot more we could be doing out in the market. The market conditions now are interesting. One would say that they're not particularly favorable, but with every challenge in my view comes an opportunity. And I think the pepper money, the pepper proposition and what we can offer our brokers and their on their customers is actually quite a strong fit for these turbulent times out there in the New Zealand property market.

Antony: [00:03:47] Thanks, Campbell. So what are your goals in the first 12 months?

Campbell: [00:03:51] And look, without giving away too much of the secret sauce, our near term ambition here in New Zealand is to continue to build upon the hard work that the pepper team onshore here in New Zealand and in Australia have done over the last three years through some really challenging conditions to establish ourselves in the New Zealand marketplace and also to continue to build awareness and consideration around our product offering and where the pepper product offering sits and where we fit in terms of the New Zealand non bank market space. Certainly near term that means continuing to develop our mortgages, proposition servicing our brokers, providing them with what they need to go and service their customers and continuing to build out our presence in that space. And then if we look through to FY 23 and our ambition for the early part of the next financial period, there will be a couple of more products coming to market. And in the near term that will be in the form of asset finance.

Antony: [00:04:50] All right. Thank you, Campbell. So I just wanted to ask you about given that New Zealand is going through a high interest interest rate, high inflation environment, and at the moment, what are the opportunities for non-banks in New Zealand?

Campbell: [00:05:04] Yeah, I mean, the challenges that are faced by the major banks also faced by the non-banks there is from time to time a perception out there that the non-banks can operate outside the regulation. And concerningly, from time to time there is the expectation that we will operate outside the bounds of responsible lending and that's not us. We are ultimately about financial inclusion. We are here at times as a bit of a triage for someone who has had a life event in some way, shape or form, a life event that precludes them from being considered by majors. And that's where Pepper can come and help. We can deal in the complex. We can deal with first home buyers that are often not able to find support with major banks. We can deal with the self-employed, so we definitely have a sizeable market that we've obviously identified some years ago that continues to deliver opportunity onshore here in New Zealand, regardless, regardless of market conditions. But suffice to say that's obviously set in the context of the challenging market conditions we're currently facing. And that's a challenge that me and my team are absolutely up for. And we're here to service our brokers and support them through these challenges. And of course they're on the end user customer, Borrower.

Antony: [00:06:18] Thanks, Campbell. So how was Pepper money in New Zealand reaching out to advisors?

Campbell: [00:06:23] Yeah. Thanks, Antony. And a good question. Look, it's certainly been an interesting couple of months onshore here in New Zealand. A lot of change in our market and in particularly the mortgage market with declining house prices and obviously the interest rate hiking cycle that we're all subject to. And that's created challenges for our brokers in terms of their ability to refinance their customers and to attractive arrangements or in some cases, their ability to refinance them at all. To that end, and obviously in these digital times and with COVID still at the front door, in some respects, we've been leveraging our technology, as does everyone. That's hardly anything new. Subsequent to 2020, using teams meetings, using Zoom meetings and hosting accreditation webinars and where these are really, really valuable is it gives us an opportunity to reach out to our broker network. It gives us an opportunity to train them on our product, give them a better understanding of who we are, where we fit, where we play, who we're looking to bring on board as a customer who as a for credit papers, credit appetite and obviously through that process, also get them accredited so that when they come across these opportunities and they think that's a deal for Pippa, that's a customer that is aligned with Pepper's credit appetite. They're already accredited and they're not having to rush through that process. And so by being accredited, they have a relationship with us. They know our BDM, Lauren and Mike, and they are able to come into us and enjoy that 24 hour SLA turnaround from application to approval. Our ambition and we deliver upon it each and every day is to give those customers a fast, years, the fastest years possible. And that's why we offer the 24 hour SLA.

Antony: [00:08:17] Great. Thank you very much, Campbell. I appreciate your time and giving some insight to our viewers at NZ Advisor TV. Thanks very much.

Campbell: [00:08:26] Thanks, Antony. Good to meet with you today. Go well.