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Wizard: 200 branches and market share growth

Wizard New Zealand contributes to 200 branches and market share growth

Wizard Home Loans this week celebrates the success of its branch model with the opening of its 200th branch across Australia and New Zealand and the announcement its group loan book has reached A$16.8 billion. Head of Wizard New Zealand John Grant said New Zealand has made a significant contribution to Wizard's success story, now delivering 10 per cent of its application volumes, with New Zealand growth up from six to 10 per cent in the last twelve months.

"The combined strength of Wizard branch numbers, our new lending volumes and the group's loan book puts Wizard Home Loans right up the top of the non-bank table," he said.

Wizard opened its first branch in Haymarket, Sydney, in 1998. Its first New Zealand branch opened in Auckland late in 2000.

"Wizard began in Australia by opening branches as fast as the banks were closing them. We did the same in New Zealand, and now our model is being copied by banks and non-bank lenders alike.

"The company is breaking through the 200 branch mark across Australia and New Zealand by opening 15 branches in one month. New Zealand's 20th branch opens shortly having attracted former All Black Grant Fox to its ranks as a co-owner.

"Wizard's owner-operated branches are performing at optimal levels and there is significant scope to expand. New Zealand has learned a lot from its Australian base but New Zealand is a different market and we've needed to adapt our products and services. We see a huge potential for growth in New Zealand, "John Grant said.

Long term, Wizard plans to grow its network to 300, making it the dominant non-bank lender distribution model. Although there is evidence of a softening in the housing market, Wizard is on target to increase both its market share and its branch network in the next 12 months.

Wizard would need to write four times its New Zealand volume to match the market share that it enjoys in New South Wales. However John Grant says that the growth of the New Zealand business is so strong that its market share position, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch could easily match Australia in the not too distant future.

The 200 branch celebration comes after a blockbuster year for the non-bank lender in 2003, during which applications reached up to A$850 million per month.

Set this growth in the context of Wizard's new holding company Australian Financial Investments Group (AFIG) and it is even more impressive.

AFIG is Australasia's first end-to-end non-bank financial services company with its own funding, treasury, and mortgage processing operations, as well as wholesale and retail distribution arms. Wizard's retail business forms a substantial part of AFIG's A$16.8 billion loan book.

As a subsidiary of the AFIG holding company, Wizard Home Loans has secured its long-term pricing and service advantage to grow its share of the group loan book.

In just six years Wizard has grown from a single branch with a single shareholder to a 200-strong branch network across Australia and New Zealand, with the backing of quality shareholders ABN AMRO, Deutsche Asset Management and the PBL Group.

"If New Zealand has made such a significant contribution in only three years, just wait and see what the next three years have in store," said Grant.

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