Working at iRefi means you have to be an anteambulo which means you clear the path for clients and create opportunities for them. We work to help you find the winning outcome you’re after.
Usually, mortgage advisers will spend at least 10-20 hours on your mortgage application, dealing with the banks and bankers on your behalf, and talking with you about your goals and ideal outcomes. Sometimes the mortgage advisers and their support staff will spend 100+ hours talking with real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, valuers, and anyone else relevant to your mortgage motivations.
Because time is money, and the iRefi service is free, most of our clients see their own time as valuable and are more than happy to hand over these responsibilities to iRefi Advisers. Travelling to meetings with your banker or broker is time-consuming. 30 minutes here and there, it all adds up, completing forms online from the couch, office, or just out and about, makes the process much faster. You might have to meet the bank or lawyer eventually, but in all cases where it’s optional, we’ll give you that choice.
Most of our clients do NOT want to drive around town to meet people. We’ve had clients respond to requests while in traffic and often from overseas (some of our clients take lots of holidays). Email is the way to go. Phone calls and texts support this digital communication. Saving your time is a priority for iRefi Advisers. Many of our clients choose to submit applications over the weekend and in the middle of the night (shift workers and night owls usually).
Listening & Understanding
You will be heard. iRefi Advisers listen before advising. Before the first call, email, text or meeting, the iRefi Advisers will attempt to understand your current situation. Because we’re dealing with thousands of people each year, we hear stories about divorce, death, deceit and ambition all day every day. We haven’t heard it all, pretty close, though, and we pride ourselves on listening to your story and your goals. Bringing out as much information of your current situation to the table allows us to tailor an offer to suit your specific needs and wants. We do listen.
The iRefi Mortgage Advisory team has adopted an approach where we try to be listening 80% of the time and advising 20% of the time on our initial calls. We’ll probe into what your goals are, to uncover what is most important, and make sure we’re addressing your deepest concerns and helping you reach these mortgage dreams (usually it is paying the mortgage off faster or buying more property). Most clients have strong secondary motivations other than ‘I want the lowest rate’ and it’s important for us to listen to you voice these. Any plans you have, any associated challenges, and how urgent your goals are; these must be understood by our team to help you get the best result. Listening allows iRefi Advisers to create and share options for you. The financial industry is complicated, financial products and options are not widely understood or known, sometimes you’ll never have heard of an option we present. Many people don’t know about; using home equity, welcome home loans, using revolving credit, taking advantage of ‘buyer’s agents’, interest-only mortgages, using two different banks… the list is long and varied.
Working in teams is not an industry standard. Many bank units work as teams, this works well when information is shared freely, especially when people are away (there is always someone on holiday or maternity leave at the bank), but it’s not a perfect system. Banks are so so busy, they need to be constantly followed up. Our clients get a team on their side from day one. The iRefi Mortgage advisers have support from 2-3 other team members who have total access to all notes and information. Tasks are shared within the team with the focus on getting clients the result they’re after. The teams have targets for turnaround times. There is no siloed information that is ‘restricted’. No paperwork left in a pile under something else. The teams talk throughout the day, sharing information and digital files to keep everyone updated, focused on getting results.
Yes, we do make mistakes sometimes, we’re human. Having a team environment has allowed us to share how mistakes were made and create systems to minimise and identify them before they happen again. When shit hits the fan, we can all provide support and find resolutions quickly, often without any cost or confusion for clients.
It is worth noting the patience that comes with working in teams because our processes are all digital, we can track clients’ files over the months and years. We’ve had clients talk with us, then a year later, pick up the same conversation. All the notes are ready so the client does not have to repeat themselves, and because information is shared, we’ll be able to highlight possible strategies quickly, regardless of who you spoke with the first and second time around.
Most people are suspicious of commissioned salespeople (real estate, car sales, insurance etc). And rightly so! You can’t always trust people’s advice if they’re getting an incentive payment. You may not know this, but many retailers, especially in electronic goods, get incentive payments. Next time you buy a washing machine, ask the salesperson if they receive a kickback for selling this particular brand. Different brands pay different commissions and you’ll have no way of telling if you’ve been recommended the product based on its merits or because of the commission involved. Mortgage Brokers are paid commissions. Banks do pay different commissions. What is important for you to know is that none of the iRefi Advisers are paid commissions. Everyone that works for iRefi.co.nz is paid a salary. No one is motivated by specific banks because of commission amounts.
The decision on where the client’s mortgage is placed is based purely on ‘what is best for the client?’. This is why we’ll often suggest you do NOT switch banks, even though we get paid a lot less for this, in the long run, we know this is the best approach. It’s honest. We’re only able to do this because we have a larger team that generates enough revenue to cover the monthly ups and downs (market cycles). Most mortgage brokers who work as independents don’t have this luxury. There’s no escaping that banks pay iRefi commissions, however, the advisers here do not get paid that way.
It’s Free. You’ll actually Make and Save Money
We get calls all the time asking how much it costs to get our advice and help with lower rates… it’s free. It’s a weird system. Why would we get discounted rates from banks, then get paid by banks? It’s quite simple, because banks work with mortgage brokers like they are business partners, and collectively, we save banks a lot of time and money.
Preparing mortgage applications and liaising with clients can cost banks lots of money in staff and overhead costs. Hiring more staff would cost the bank. Training people, paying them, getting office space, making sure they follow the rules, this all costs money. iRefi, and other mortgage brokers bring banks more clients who are prepared and ready to do business. In exchange, the bank will pay a ‘commission’ payment which is relative to the size of the lending.
When a bank offers you rates and cashback, we do not get a cut of that, we pass on the full offer onto the client. If you get offered $5,000 cashback and 4.05%, we pass it all on, it goes directly into your account. Sometimes we’ll charge for our services (if that bank is not going to pay us, or you’re bridging or selling early) and we’ll make sure you clearly understand this (less than 1% of our clients need to pay us directly).
Mortgage Advisers (a.k.a Mortgage Brokers) are just that… brokers of mortgages. Negotiating rates, conditions, cashback, clauses, and timing of funds, all brokers have access to what is called ‘the broker unit’ within the major banks. As advisers, we have access to rates that are discounted, lower than the advertised rates, with a direct line to decision makers at the banks who want to find an offer than fits for the bank and the client. These bankers have targets and want to lend money (the mortgages) but do not want to let go of too much profit and margin. That’s where brokers come in, we know the hot buttons, things to say, and the rates expectations of the day. Not everything can be negotiated. But, as we’ve seen often, sometimes a little rates reduction or extra cashback can be adjusted enough that everyone is happy; the bank and the client.
Where does iRefi have another advantage? Because we work in teams and share information freely within the team, the contacts within each bank are not isolated from other brokers. When one banker is away, we can shoulder tap other bankers to get answers when timing is a factor (and it often is). Having a big team is hugely beneficial to getting lower rates because we see all the discounted bank rates daily because we submit so many applications and share information internally about the best deals going. On average clients will save $3,000-$5,000 on mortgage deals because of these discounts and our negotiating.
New Zealand is a small place but it can be a maze if you don’t know who to call. Knowing the best lawyers, real estate agents, valuers, bankers, and accountants, is a strategic advantage. Some people value speed of service, while others prioritise value for money, some clients prefer to meet whoever they end up dealing with. Having a large rolodex of contacts does not happen overnight. iRefi Advisers have their own contacts and share them around. We’ll often book the meeting for you. The best people are often the hardest to find and connect with, they’re already too busy because of constant referrals, this is why it’s essential to be introduced from a trusted source.
Take real estate agents as an example, the market across NZ is ridiculously hot, when we have clients pre-approved for investment properties we’ll make an effort to introduce them to informed agents who have properties being listed (or not even listed yet) who fit the perfect property profile. These agents love our referrals because our clients are ready to buy and trust the information we pass them. You can’t buy good contacts, they are earned, and working with iRefi earns you the right to tap into our networks.
Locally Owned and Independent
The 5 founders of iRefi.co.nz are local to Auckland (click here for the full team). We’re ex-Macleans College and Auckland Uni students, mates who decided to start up in business together, we wanted to make a difference. Originally we were helping those already in the industry (supporting other mortgage advisers) before starting our own advisory firm in our area of strength (technology and finance). We believed there was a better way to help clients by working in teams and allowing people to do everything online.
When clients approach us, sometimes they’ll say ‘I want to work with a New Zealand bank’ or ‘is there a local who can help me?’, well if you’re in NZ we can help. If you’re outside of Auckland you’ll have to stick with online advice (sometimes we meet clients in Tauranga and Auckland). You can look up the founders/shareholders of iRefi.co.nz on Linkedin and the companies office. Do your research, ask about us, the odds are you’ll know at least one of us or someone we’ve already helped.
We’re not tied to any particular bank and make all of our decisions based on what is best for the client. There’s always one of the business owners available, we take holidays at different times, where most brokers are away most January, we have most of the team on hand to help.
Options; with a Focus on Results
On top of the traditional and well-known banks, we have second tier ‘non-bank’ options that don’t have to follow the strict loan to valuation ratio (LVR) rules set by the Reserve Bank. If the bank says no, there’s often another way, you just have to know who to call. If you need to get bridging finance, finance for an investment outside of the LVR rules, consolidate lots of debts into your home, or structure your mortgages in a way that allows you more freedom… the options we provide may not be offered first time round at the bank.
The trend for rules in the mortgage industry is to tighten the rules more, making new lending tougher for investors and first home buyers, this may limit your options. Leave it to iRefi to find you a solution, we don’t get paid unless you get a good result, and trust us to tell you very early on if we don’t think your goal can be achieved in the timeframe or under the circumstances you’ve outlined.
Strict Rules and Full Disclosure
Some of the rules we impose on ourselves:
- Provide advice and service which are in the client’s best interests.
- Ensure ongoing professional service and advice to clients.
Maintain a high level of integrity and professionalism at all times when representing iRefi and clients.The NZ government and industry bodies have shown initiative in the last few years towards protecting the public from dodgy advisers. We applaud this. Strict rules govern how we’re able to advise you on your finances, your insurances, and your mortgages.
Click here to learn more about the Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR). Click here to learn more about where you can make complaints in relation to financial services. You can also learn more about how we operate by reading our disclosure statement. Click here to look up iRefi on the Companies Office.
There’s no other way to say this – banks calculate servicing and borrowing power in different ways. The way one bank calculates how much you can borrow is different from the other banks… and the way they calculate servicing and maximum borrowing is often changing. Many property investors use 2-3 banks because it provides more options and often leads to a higher lending amount (you can buy more properties and maximise leverage).
You can separate securities and get greater tax advantages. It’s fairly simple but often overlooked. This advice is not provided at bank-level. All of this takes time and there are pitfalls, to avoid costly mistakes, using a mortgage broker who does this every day will ensure a smooth transition from the status quo to more sophisticated mortgage structures and approvals (with fewer clauses).
The iRefi Service
Every mortgage department (banks and brokers) will tell you ‘service’ is the reason to choose them. Some people like to choose to work with friends, some choose family (some avoid it), most (not all) of our clients are 100% complete strangers at the beginning of our conversations. It is up to us to demonstrate knowledge and reliability to people quickly and hope we deliver value that can build on that initial trust. We’re lucky to get a lot of referrals from clients and this helps. iRefi is about making mortgages easy, to do that, we need friendly and committed team members who will do what it takes to get you results.
After talking with 1,000s of NZ mortgage holders we’ve helped many of them in their journey to reach their mortgage goals. It’s a partnership where we’re trusted to look after the finance for your biggest assets. Disqualifying people who simply rate-shop and don’t see value in the service we provide is sometimes tough… but without trust, there’s no point. There needs to be mutual trust between advisers and clients to make sure everyone is happy.
Often, if one party is not happy, then everything falls apart. When hiring we often look to our closest friends and networks to recommend outstanding people to work with us. Bringing on younger people with less experience is a huge advantage because they don’t bring bad habits and misinformation. Because iRefi was created from scratch, all the systems and processes are inline with what clients expect and demand, not what they’ve had before switching to iRefi.
When it’s required, turn-around times on mortgage applications can be as little as 72 hours, this is rare, most applications will be finished within 4-6 weeks. The work is done for you, behind the scenes, while you enjoy your leisure time.
Keeping Your Data Secure
The security of any information you provide is our primary concern, in order to make our platform as safe as it can be we have implemented several digital security features.
SSL; our platform is protected with a ‘secure socket layer’ this is a very widely used security measure that ensures your connection to iRefi is private and cannot be accessed by anyone else.You can see the details of our certificate by clicking the green padlock in the address bar once you have logged in. Feel free to request more information by emailing us.
CSP; ‘content security policy’, a relatively new internet security measure. this allows us to specify what websites are allowed to interact with ours, this is a very good way to stop most hacking attacks. We only connect with trusted sites (like Google) that allow us to provide you with a better user experience.
TDE; ‘transparent data encryption’, SSL encryption ensures that any data is encrypted as it is being used by our server or your browser, TDE is a technology to encrypt our data while it is stored in our database.
SSH; The last acronym I promise ‘Secure Shell’ is a method used to encrypt login credentials passed from one site to another so it cannot be accessed remotely.
Encrypted storage; any document that gets uploaded to our servers is processed and stored in an encrypted state separate from our database, so even if it is accessed the files will be useless.
Lastly, we are careful about what information we ask you to provide or store, we will never save anything that could be harmful if accessed by someone else such as your credit card details or passwords or login details.
Big Enough to have influence and processes, small enough to care
There’s no hiding it, iRefi is not the biggest mortgage firm in NZ, we’ve got a long way to go with only 13 on the team (2016). We’re big enough to get the best rates going and to work with lots of different lenders, but small enough to truly value each and every client. Some brokers have thousands of clients as they’ve acquired other businesses and clients over decades. They might have 1-3 support staff and try to talk with each client once a year… there’s no way they can possibly know every client’s needs, goals, dreams, specific situation, and there’s no way they have time to go to battle on the rates and cash offers every year.
Many of our clients have complained about a lack of consistency and continuity with their current providers. There’s a fast churn of staff at banks. If you’re looking for a team to support you in the decades to come, we’re here to help for a length of your mortgages, we’re not looking to retire anytime soon.
Dealing with mortgages and real estate all day every day, we get a feel for the market, no one can really predict what is happening, but we can pass on what we’re hearing from banks, agents, accountants, lawyers, other brokers, property investors and other clients. What you read in the paper and hear in the news is often a version of half the truth… or it’s last week’s news. To stay up with the play, you have to be in play, not on the sidelines listening in every so often.
As a client of iRefi, our knowledge becomes your knowledge, if we think you’re about to overpay for a dud property, we are going to tell you. If there’s a steal, a bargain, right in front of your eyes, we will tell you. Listening to your neighbour, co-worker, taxi driver, or the clueless, is a fast-track to defaulting on your mortgage or missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Everyone has a different risk profile. At iRefi we all have very keen interest in property, most of us own 1-2 properties and are looking to grow our portfolios slowly, buy-and-hold being our mantra.
Remember getting homework? With a teacher pestering you, your parents encouraging you, and your friends doing the work as well, you felt (most of the time) that it had to be done. Now, without anyone setting a deadline, most people let their mortgage and property goals waiver and drag on for years. This is why people say ‘I’m going to buy a rental’, and a year later they still haven’t. They’re looking for someone to help AND to hold them accountable because deep down they really want to achieve their goals.
iRefi Advisers don’t pressure ‘sell’ anyone, but we do provide friendly nudges every few weeks, if they are welcomed, to remind clients of their plans and offer assistance when they’re ready to progress. When iRefi Advisers pick up a client file there is a sense of ownership and pride in the advice and support given. And, because iRefi Advisers work in teams, we’re not only accountable to you the client, we’re accountable to the team who have set extremely high standards for detail and follow up. To be invited to work with iRefi.co.nz you have to show initiative. A bias for action must be continually demonstrated. The first member we added to the team is a productivity expert (Paul), and the culture of getting it done quickly and without fuss, was born. The team here is young (ages range from 20-32) but we’re all about efficiency and getting results for clients ASAP. The reward for the team is happy clients because we get a buzz off their success and it makes our job so much easier (in large part because of referrals). Having a young team is actually our advantage because the knowledge is shared among team members, the energy in the team allows us to help lots of clients with enthusiasm.
Expert Advice & Reputation
All iRefi Mortgage Advisers get trained as Registered Financial Advisers and own properties themselves. The suggestions we pass on are based on the company’s standard advice. We do not have rogue advisers who try influence clients one way or another. Our job is to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and encourage you, where appropriate, to take on loan terms in line with what you can afford and what other clients in your situation are doing.
Because team values are shared and we put the client first, we know or reputation for solid advice is gaining momentum in the public and we’re getting more clients giving us referrals because they’re happy with their mortgage savings and strategies. iRefi.co.nz is part of the NZFSG (New Zealand Financial Services Group); ‘NZFSG is home to more than 1000 members that offer home loan, insurance, and other financial services across New Zealand.’ This gives us buying power but also ensures compliance with strict rules to protect clients. Over 100,000 people have been helped with home loans by NZFSG members.