Meet Pipeline, your newest broker software

Pipeline is your new broker workflow management software we’ve been designed in collaboration with our brokers, for our brokers. Pipeline brings you the software you need to keep track of your prospects, manage your loan applications and pre-set your activity plans to enable outstanding customer service.

Opportunities start with Pipeline

The customer card view in Pipeline provides you with a single place to view and manage all current leads, tasks, loan applications and post-settlement activity plans.

Pipeline works intuitively with AFG brokers to track and manage activity throughout Pipeline with easy drag and drop mechanics.  In addition to new workflows, Pipeline now houses the tools that brokers need most, all under the one umbrella. AFG brokers now have streamlined access to view all their contacts, contact info, available products and the calculators they use most.

Watch our quick Pipeline video for a snapshot of what Pipeline has to offer.


Pipeline’s agile software rollout

We’re bringing Pipeline to brokers in an agile and responsive fashion. Today, we provide the immediate tools and critical functions our brokers have asked for. However, our enhancements and developments don’t stop there – going forward, we’re rolling out a range of new features and developments in consultation with our brokers to enable end-to-end management of the prospect to loan process.

AFG Mobile

The first addition to Pipeline will be the integration of Pipeline in the AFG Suite mobile app. So what does this mean for AFG brokers? It means the tools you need most, on the road with you, right in the palm of your hand.

Want to know more about Pipeline and AFG Suite? Find out more.

Super stoush

The big super funds are targeting self-managed super – a popular choice for small business owners – over burgeoning borrowing for property investment. And the push is on to make the $20,000 write-down facility permanent. Here’s what to watch for in next month’s Federal Budget.

It’s shaping up as the battle of the big guns against the little guys.

The big super funds are calling for a crackdown on self-managed super funds (SMSFs) borrowing to invest in property.

It puts at risk an increasingly popular wealth-creation strategy for business owners: to use Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements (LRBA) to buy their own commercial premises through SMSFs.

In the past 10 years, banks and non-bank lenders have been issuing loans products to target the growing SMSF market, promoting them as a way for business owners to buy commercial premises through their super fund.

In a pre-budget submission, the big super funds’ peak body, The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), has called on the government to end direct borrowing by superannuation funds because it is becoming too risky.

“The amount of funds borrowed using LRBAs has increased substantially from $497 million in June 2009 to $25.4 billion in June 2016, an increase of around 5,000 per cent,” the ASFA submission states.

The submission argues direct borrowing, even through LRBAs, puts retirement savings at risk
if investments go south. Taxpayers may end up carrying the can, through the provision of aged pensions, the ASFA claims.

The association acknowledges only about seven per cent of SMSFs were currently using LRBAs,
but it states half of these had more than 80 per cent of the fund’s total assets in LRBAs.

“This indicates a lack of diversification within such funds.”

The big super funds’ position echoes that of David Murray’s 2014 Financial System Inquiry, which also recommended an end to direct borrowing through superannuation.

Acknowledging the difficulty of unwinding existing arrangements, the ASFA pre-budget submissions calls for an end to borrowing, leaving current loans in place.

“ASFA considers any changes to the arrangements should involve removing the ability to enter into LRBA arrangements in the future,” the submission states.

With the 2018/19 Budget to be handed down on May 8, the big super funds are also hoping the government will crack down on sham contracting.

The rise of the ‘gig economy’ has many in the industry, and in government, concerned about stagnant super balances. To that end, the ASFA submission also urges the government to increase penalties and lower the bar for prosecuting business caught using sham contracting arrangements.

If a worker is classified as a contractor, rather than employee, businesses are not obliged to pay benefits such as superannuation or annual leave. While more flexible work practices have caused confusion, many employers have been found to have deliberately misrepresented staff to avoid super obligations.

The legislation currently requires the employer’s error to have been reckless, but ASFA backs a Productivity Commission call for the Fair Work Act to be amended to allow prosecution where the classification was something an employer could be reasonably expected to know.

In other pre-budget submissions, small business industry groups are pushing to have the government’s popular $20,000 instant asset write-off scheme for small business made permanent. At present, it is set to end on June 30, reverting to $1,000.

Introduced in the 2015/16 budget, the write-down facility aims to encourage small businesses
with turnover up to $10 million to invest in new equipment by allowing them to claim accelerated depreciation on items up to $20,000 in value.

Tax and Super Australia, which represents tax agents, argue in their pre-budget submission that constantly changing thresholds cause confusion for SMEs and the $20,000 limit should not merely be extended, as was done in 2017/18, but made permanent.

“This ($20,000) threshold is having a real effect in the small business community in both encouraging investment in productive assets and reducing compliance burdens,” the submission states.

The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) also supports making the $20,000 threshold permanent, and renews its support for the establishment of a small business investment allowance
to facilitate greater deductions on assets above $20,000 and up to $2 million.

On the productivity front, COSBOA also calls for mental health programs aimed at small business owners and the introduction of federally-funded domestic violence leave, which could be more impactful for small businesses that often lacked the resources to respond effectively.

Pre-budget submission from a range of industry and interest groups can be viewed on the Treasury website.

Cash in a flash

Australia’s New Payments Platform could turbo-charge cash flow for SMEs, with 24/7 real-time transfers banishing the time payments sit in limbo.

Imagine a day where your mobile phone number is all clients need to pay; where bank transfers clear within seconds; and payments into your business account are automatically reconciled.

Australia’s New Payments Platform (NPP), launched in February, aims to make this an everyday reality, revolutionising the way individuals and businesses make and receive payments. But, like all revolutions, its success hinges on how quickly people jump on board.

“Right now, there’s been little uptake,” says Australian Invoice Finance managing director Greg Charlwood. But it is early days, and he has high hopes for the NPP, saying businesses – particularly those in the B2B sector – stand to make great efficiency gains when the system reaches a critical mass of users.

“If banks dramatically increase promotion (of NPP) I see acceleration happening in the first year, with a high level of take up within two years,” said Mr Charlwood.

High take-up rates are critical, because both payer and payee must be registered to use the NPP system. At present about 60 financial institutions – from big banks to small credit unions – offer customers access to the platform. (Contact your financial institution to inquire or register.)

Developed over the past five years by a consortium of 13 companies – led by the Reserve Bank and including the big four banks – the NPP essentially provides a new financial infrastructure for Australia.

The key features of the new system are:

  • It provides real-time settlement 24/7.
  • It can attach more data to payments than traditional systems – 280 characters, compared to the previous 18-character limit – paving the way for simpler automated reconciliation.
  • It introduces the ‘PayID’ as an alternative identifier to cumbersome BSB and account numbers. Customer-chosen PayIDs can be something easy to remember, such as a mobile phone number, email address or ABN. Clients only need your PayID to direct payments to your account.
  • It has a layered architecture to support multiple services. So, to use an analogy, think of the NPP as a smart phone – in the same way third-party developers create apps to capitalise on a smartphone’s capabilities, it is hoped new financial applications (called ‘overlays’) will be developed to leverage the functionality of the NPP.

The first overlay, a system called Osko (developed by BPay), allows individuals and businesses to begin using PayIDs to send and receive payments.

NPP CEO Adrian Lovney anticipates more overlays will build on this as more users join NPP.

“We see the platform’s data capability as a potential boon for future business application. From simpler invoicing to automatic reconciliation across core business processes…the NPP will provide an important building block for innovation,” Mr Lovney said.

A new feature Osko is expected to roll out in coming months is a ‘request to pay’ function. This will allow individuals or businesses to send a digital bill which can be reviewed and paid with a single click, provided supplier and client are both are registered to the PayID system.

Mr Charlwood says the NPP PayID could also reduce accounting errors, because entering a PayID triggered the system to display the linked account name for cross-referencing, something that did not happen under the present BSB/account number system.

PayIDs will also make it easier for businesses to switch financial institutions to chase better deals. Traditionally, changing accounts could cause headaches, ensuring customers have new details and that direct debits are updated.

“The PayID will allow businesses to change banks without having to notify suppliers or customers of new account numbers,” said Mr Charlwood. “The account number can simply be changed on the PayID without the counterparties even needing to know that the change has occurred.”

Mr Charlwood believes the B2B sector stands to benefit most from efficiencies in the new system, as they are the least likely to deal in cash payments.

“Business can do their bit by encouraging others to get on board,” he said.

The system has received some criticism, with a recent Productivity Commission report raising concerns about restricted access to the platform, particularly for fintechs.

Mr Lovney says it is simply a matter of balancing security and integrity with access.

“While it may sound great to have an open door, in a payments system that enables the movement
of funds in real-time, it’s obvious you need to have some controls. That’s why the NPP allows various levels of access, each with clear criteria,” he said.

At present, institutions seeking direct connection to the NPP must be prudentially regulated authorised deposit-taking institutions.

“(This) indicates they can manage risk and satisfy participation requirements,” Mr Lovney said.

The RBA decided to once again leave the official cash rate unchanged at 1.5%

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to once again leave the official cash rate unchanged at 1.5% with the last rate move back in August 2016.

With a combination of retail deflation (ie the price of retail goods falling) and continued weak wages growth still impacting economic growth, the Reserve Bank have signaled that we can expect to see rates where they are for the time being. They have indicated however that they expect the next rate move to be an increase and are concerned about the potential shock that this may cause the economy.

Even when rates are unchanged, the role of your broker remains the same. There may be different rates available from our lenders, so your broker is always on hand to ensure you have the right financial solution for your current circumstances.

If you’d like to have a chat about what today’s news means for you and your finances, please don’t hesitate to?get in touch with an AFG broker.

The RBA has decided to once again leave the official cash rate unchanged at 1.5%

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to once again leave the official cash rate unchanged at 1.5% with the last rate move back in August 2016. I’d like to share today’s rate announcement and the thoughts on why the Reserve Bank of Australia has made this decision.

With a combination of retail deflation (ie the price of retail goods falling) and continued weak wages growth still impacting economic growth, the Reserve Bank have signaled that we can expect to see rates where they are for the time being. They have indicated however that they expect the next rate move to be an increase and are concerned about the potential shock that this may cause the economy.

Rates remain constant now but it is important that you are prepared if they increase. There may be different rates available from our lenders, so your broker is always on hand to ensure you have the right financial solution for your current circumstances.

If you’d like to have a chat about what today’s news means for you and your finances, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with an AFG broker.