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Wizard Branch Network Spreads Wings

July 19, 2001

New Zealand’s leading non-bank lender Wizard Home Loans has opened new branches in Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North and is close to finalising representation in Wellington and Tauranga.

Wizard’s fifth New Zealand branch opened in Auckland’s Dominion Road in May, operated by former AGC high-flyer Phillip Lacey. Its sixth office opened this month in Christchurch West and its seventh in Palmerston North this week.

Central Auckland branch operator Phillip Lacey was AGC’s top consumer finance salesman in 1999 and the national number two last year when he moved to commercial loans. He described his move to Wizard as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.

The Christchurch branch, opposite the Post Office in Riccarton Road, is operated by principals Wayne Thomsen and Kevin Burrowes, both with strong collective experience in sales and financial services.

Wizard Palmerston North, at 157 Broadway Avenue, is operated by Barry Woodcock who has been involved in the financial services industry in Manawatu since arriving from the United Kingdom in 1996. Barry has been the principal of The Pinnacle Group since 1998, offering a ‘One Stop Shop’ approach to finance and insurance.

Wizard Home Loans opened its first branch in West Auckland last August, and now has seven offices around the country, as well as its online lending services at www.ewizard.net.nz.

Wizard executive chairman Mark Bouris said the company was on track with its aggressive branch rollout in New Zealand, following its opening more than 95 branches in Australian since its first branch opened in January 1998.

Mr Bouris said that despite relatively slow conditions in the home mortgage market, Wizard’s initial levels of business had exceeded expectations.

“Like Australia, New Zealand is a market where existing borrowers are fed up with their traditional lenders and are crying out for innovative lending products,” he said.

Wizard has led the market down in New Zealand, holding around 40 per centage points below the main bank lenders, as well as offering low or no fee products.

Mr Bouris said that although the non-bank sector was less developed in New Zealand, customers were beginning to distinguish between non-banks and brokers.

“Mortgage brokers simply represent the banks outsourcing their distribution, so consumers end up paying, anyway,” he said. “We produce our own products and distribute them at low cost so they’re cheaper for the life of the loan, with generally no ongoing service fees.”

Wizard’s online lending had also generated a good response. The site allows customers to manage their loans themselves at no cost. It also allows prospective borrowers to check whether they are paying what they should be using a loan calculator service.

Mr Bouris said Wizard’s market research showed that that Internet business grew in tandem with the branch network. “They support each other,” he said. “We’re putting up branches as fast as the banks close them,” he said.

“Customers want suburban lending branches run by local lenders who know their customers, and the local market.”

Wizard Financial Services, founded in Wizard Financial Services, founded in January 1996, is Australia’s leading non-bank lender in terms of branch distribution and volume. Wizard has unmatched financial backing with the resources of Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited as well as the internationally respected Deutsche Asset Management.

In Australia, Wizard is pioneering new lending and insurance products, including loans for people who fall outside traditional bank lending criteria or who do not wish to disclose all their financial information. It is also leading the market in terms of new insurance products of home owners.

Mr Bouris said that the company was researching market demand for such products in New Zealand, but continued to focus on its core home lending products for the time being.

“We do see ourselves enlarging our suite of products available in New Zealand,” he said. “But we want to be sure we tailor products to suit the market.”

For further information: http://www.ewizard.net.nz

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