Since 2011, Aqua Financial Services has marked itself out as a strong achiever within the broking field. Headed up by principal Daniel Hustwaite – and regular fixture in MPA’s Top 100 brokers feature – the company has carved out its own niche across a variety of different fields, including home loans, investment property loans, SMSF, commercial and equipment/vehicle finance.
It’s a broad spectrum, but the company’s placement in this year’s list is testament to the positive power of diverse brokerages. As the lending market continues to shift, it’s essential for brokerages to stay ahead and secure their own future.
In 2019, Aqua finds itself in the same position as many other Australian brokerages. The industry is changing; rapid technological shifts are driving both innovation and procedural change; loan requirements are changing, and the Financial Services Royal Commission also looks to drive legislative change. But for Hustwaite, it’s all part of the business. With almost two decades of experience in finance, he’s well aware of the cycles and challenges that come with the territory.
“I started working in finance and banking back in 2000,” laughs Hustwaite. “So I saw quite a bit even before I moved into broking.”
Not to say that he’s downplaying the seriousness of some of the current challenges in the industry, though. Brokers, he notes, arguably have a more important role than ever before in helping clients secure loans and finance.
“The principles of ‘responsible lending’ are currently in a bit of a flux, and accordingly we’ve seen borrowing capacities decrease significantly across the board,” says Hustwaite. “This means it’s trickier to get a loan approved.”
Recent years have also seen almost all Australian banks move away from the generally accepted practice of adjusting their rate settings in line with movement in the RBA cash rate.
“Since this time, we’ve started to see significant out-of-cycle movements and adjustments to the rates on offer with banks,” says Hustwaite. “We’re expecting this volatility to continue for the foreseeable future, so it’s more important than ever to be vigilant in monitoring client portfolios to ensure they are receiving the best outcomes for their specific circumstances.”
As part of this process, over the next 12 to 18 months Aqua has a continued focus on process management, with the aim being to streamline as much as possible, ensuring efficiency without sacrificing service.
“The most important thing is that we’ve got to be flexible and adept enough to adapt to the changing regulatory and lending landscape,” says Hustwaite.
But just as importantly, Hustwaite aims to continue growing Aqua organically, by leveraging its existing customer base and building deeper relationships with its strategic partners.
“The place a lot of businesses fall down is in treating their existing customers as well as their new ones,” says Hustwaite. “But you need to make sure everyone is looked after properly; that’s why we are constantly in touch with customers, reassessing their current arrangements and looking at how we can help them get the best possible deal.”
Total loan book: $563,393,522
Total settlements 1 March 2018 – 28 February 2019: $201,072,346
Number of loan writers: 5
Avg. annual volume per broker: $40,214,469
Conversion rate: 95%