Innovation, quality, efficiency gives Pepper Money the edge

In this episode, join Barry Saoud, the general manager mortgages and commercial lending at Pepper Money, as he provides some insights following the Non-Bank of the Year achievement at the 2021 Australian Mortgage Awards. Barry discusses what the award means to the Pepper Money team, the non-bank’s investment in innovative products and technology and the importance of the broker channel to ongoing business growth.

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Antony: [00:00:13] Hello and welcome to MPATV. I'm Antony Field, the editor of MPA magazine. Today I'm joined by Barry Saoud, who is the general manager of mortgages and commercial lending at Pepper Money. Given money was recognised as non-bank of the year at the Australian Mortgage Awards 2021. Barry, first of all, thank you for joining us and congratulations to you and the Pepper Money team for winning such a prestigious award. 

Barry: [00:00:42] Great, Anthony. Really great to be here and chat to you about the recent award performance, but also around how pepper money is generally performing and what our future prospects look like.

Antony: [00:00:53] So Barry, I just wanted to ask you, in terms of pepper money, where is the business at today and what role does pepper money play in the non-bank sector?

Barry: [00:01:04] Yeah. Great question, Anthony. So where are we at today? Where a leading non-bank lender in the mortgages and commercial lending space as well as asset performance. So currently we're all about financial inclusion. We're focused on ensuring and challenging the ways in which loans are designed but also distributed. So from today, we have definitely focused around product innovation, supporting our brokers with quality products, but also really trying to provide that consistency around credit decisioning and given them market leading turnaround times.

Antony: [00:01:39] When non-bank lender of the year, the 2021 Australian Mortgage Awards is an amazing achievement. What does it mean to the team that pepper money? 

Barry: [00:01:48] Yeah, it's a great question and we are really delighted and honoured to receive the validation that we at Pepper Money are focused and on the right track. So for me in particular, having joined Pepper Money recently, it's really a great honour to actually accept the award on behalf of the great quality people at Pepper. So brokers are our lifeblood. They're critical to our business. And over the last 21 years, the fact that we've got the recognition from our brokers that we're on the right track is really positive. But we don't we don't end there. And we're really focused around how do we continue to innovate and deliver that exceptional experiences that our brokers deserve, as well as ensuring that we're looking after our customers. 

Antony: [00:02:32] What are the areas Pepper money excels in which contributed to the win? 

Barry: [00:02:37] Yeah. It's a, it's a question that we get asked quite often around how it pepper money and why it pepper money. Do we continue to outperform against our peers? And for us, it goes down to the basics. It's ensuring that we are looking after our brokers. And by that, I mean we provide that consistent credit decisioning, provide that market leading turnaround times, but continually evolve in the space, constantly looking at how do we innovate our products, how do we automate our processes, as well as how do we ensure we're giving that great quality service proposition? And that's through our BDM network. We've heavily invested in the past around our BDM network to ensure we have a high calibre individuals that are providing that right service and support to the broad range of brokers that we deal with day to day. 

Antony: [00:03:27] How are you capitalizing on your strong relationship with the broker channel?

Barry: [00:03:31] Yeah. Brokers are critical to our business. They form an important and integral partnership for me coming into the business and having had some great success at Aussie Home Loans and understanding what is a broker, what's it mean to them? It's really important for me in particular and the team to ensure we continue to strengthen the partnership that we have with our brokers. And by that it's all about how do we make it easier, simpler and faster for our brokers to provide that great quality service to the customers and ensuring we as a lender are making it easier where providing that consistency of service, but also supporting them through a great post settlement service, ensuring they've got the right tools, ensuring they've got the right training and education to understand our products, but in particular understanding the various borrower profiles. We at Pepper Money really focused on that non-conforming space, and by that I mean it's helping giving the brokers the tools to understand that. How do they really focus on the segments of your self employed, your casual your casual employees, your contractors, which is what we're seeing coming out of COVID. It's a growing area in which we'd love to support our brokers to ensure that they understand our policies, but also understand that there is a particular customer segment that falls outside that traditional banking landscape.

Antony: [00:04:59] How is technology making a difference to the way you operate?

Barry: [00:05:03] Yeah, it's a really important question because technology is front and center of everything we do at Pepper Money. And one of the key strengths and differentiators that pepper money has in this non-bank space is all around. It's technology. We have the tools such as our pepper product selector and resolve, and these are tools that brokers have that really support them in providing that certainty of credit decisioning, providing them a fast indicative offer, but also help them to ensure they understand what products are available and at what interest rate. So that transparency that we give to the brokers is fundamental through technology. But with technology, it never stands still. And we as a team are focused about how do we continue to evolve that to ensure we understanding what the changing needs of our brokers and customers are. So we are trying to automate our processes. We are trying to provide that faster credit decisioning, but also leveraging tools like AVMs, digital ID, digital signatures. So we're really trying to make it a personalized approach with our technology, but giving those brokers the tools to make it easier and faster to do business with us.

Antony: [00:06:14] What does Pepper Money's plan for the next 12 months?

Barry: [00:06:17] Yeah. Thanks, Anthony. It's a really good question. And we at Pepper Money are focused around where does that future look like? And what we are seeing is coming out of COVID, that traditional borrower is changing. We are seeing a lot more into that self employed, that alternative lending market. And it's sort of a factor of this gig economy, whether you are seeing a growth in whether it's your Airtasker, your Uber drivers that don't have that traditional forms of employment. So we at Pepper Money are focused around really trying to broaden our product suite and our invest in our innovation of products to ensure that we're catering for that change in that borrower profile as well as that in particular that customer that broker segment as well. But we're not just resting on that product innovation. We want to continue to ensure that what's got us here today and to for to have the award of that win in non bank so continue to invest in automation of processes leveraging our data to provide a better quality service to our brokers and customers, but also try and ensure that we're strengthening our partnerships with our brokers. That's critical to our success. And what we are trying to do is understand what is that broker landscape and how is it transforming, but how we're leveraging our tools, leveraging our BDM network to ensure that we are delivering that exceptional market leading service to not only our brokers but also our customers as well.

Antony: [00:07:45] Thank you, Barry. It's great to hear how well pepper money has done throughout a very challenging year. And it's been wonderful hearing from you.

Barry: [00:07:52] Thanks, Antony, and thanks for the opportunity to chat to you today.

Antony: [00:07:56] Congratulations once again and thank you for joining us today for the special interview on MPATV. And to our viewers. As always, thank you for tuning in. We'll see you next time.