WAYNE Ormond’s vision to offer up to 50 per cent commission refunds on home loans has turned into a national franchise in just six years. He won’t stop there. A year ago he applied his business model to the financial planning industry, but in March 2011 Refund Home Loans’ scope will move further – into real estate itself. Ormond tells Brisbane Business News why doubled revenue in FY11 is a ‘conservative estimate’.
Residential property has taken a valuation hit this year but Refund Home Loans has thrived on its business model that undercuts brokers through low-cost practices.
Ormond attributes the company’s growth to an increasingly financial-savvy population that wants better value for money, combined with the business’ expansion into the financial services industry.
“The market isn’t going well but people still need home loans and they might need to add an extension or they’ll be building a pool, whatever it is – people need to move forward in life, to build on their position,” he says.
“For some home loans, what might have been a good deal a few years ago isn’t now and there’s opportunity for refinancing.
“Twelve months ago we started an alliance with PIS (Professional Investment Services) to develop a group to start franchising financial planning. A lot of people were saying we should cater to people with high wealth, but they really don’t need it. Mums and dads do and they’re good to work with.”
Refund now has 40 financial planners on its books, who will soon have the opportunity to work in shopfronts when the business launches its Refund Real Estate arm with 50 stores in March.
“We’ve built a strong brand and people know that we’ll get them a good deal, we’ve stood up to the banks and that’s what we’ll do with real estate,” he says.
“I’m not interested in what Ray White’s doing; I’m only interested in giving my customers something in return. Looking at the real estate industry, nothing has changed and it makes for increased profits, so therefore the opportunity is there to come in.
“Our turnover will double in 12 months and that’s a fairly conservative estimate and that’s not just coming from the new business, but from the existing business.”
Ormond is outspoken about the conduct of the big four banks with rate rises, record profits and substantial executive bonuses, arguing they ought to give more back to their customers.
“During the GFC they were talking to everyone about how it was very tough, funding costs were high, they didn’t want to go down a hole, so the (Federal) government stepped in to guarantee deposits,” he says.
“What do they do in return? They stand in the middle every time the Reserve Bank adjusts the cash rate.”
Ormond isn’t concerned whether his outspoken attitude could offend the banks, he gives enough business to them after all.
“The government attacked the mining industry on the super profits tax, but if I were the banks I’d be thanking my lucky stars they didn’t go after the banks,” he says.
“My argument is that banking is an essential resource, we can’t live our lives without bank accounts, so using the general populace of Australia as a resource is just like digging iron ore out of the ground.”
While Ormond’s business schedule has taken its toll on his health, he wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“People think it must be exciting to travel around so much, but the novelty wears off. Seeing new franchisees and existing franchisees is the reason I do it,” he says.
“Age is on my side, time is on my side and I have no plans to exit the business. A lot of entrepreneurs are interested in setting up to get some money and do something else, but I don’t want to do anything else.
“There’s only one person that can be responsible for the business and if you work part of your time or give 20 per cent of your effort, that’s what you receive. I give 100 per cent focus and I don’t have time for golf, or other extra-curricular activities.”
In April orders were made by consent with the Federal Court that Ormond made misleading statements to franchisees about approvals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2009, but he’s putting the past behind him.
“The only person that really knows what happened is me and I’m satisfied overall with my conduct,” he says.
“Sometimes people and that’s not in this particular case, decide to settle something for commercial terms, rather than 12 months of fighting or litigation, spending copious amounts of money. I’m excited going forward. I guess for me I love this business and that will never change. I’m 37 and unmarried, I don’t have children so I focus everything on the business.”
For a full profile list on Brisbane’s 2010 Young Entrepreneurs, including interviews with all of the finalists, get a copy of the special annual edition of Brisbane Business News – out now in more than 500 greater Brisbane newsagents.
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