Lifetime to sever ties with Mortgage Link

Lifetime Financial Security has decided to sever its ties with Mortgage Link after failing in a bid to acquire the group.

Tuesday, November 15th 2011, 5:42AM

by Jenny Ruth

From the end of the year it will incorporate its three Mortgage Link licensed offices under its own umbrella as Lifetime Mortgage Solutions.

Chief executive Warren Stephens says since buying David Tillman's mortgage business and Chris O'Dell's Mortgage King, his company has been operating mortgage businesses under multiple brands and now needs to simplify its structure.

"We are going though an entire group restructure heading into 2012 and streamlining as much of our operation as possible," Stephens says.

While Lifetime had enjoyed its association with Mortgage Link, after Mortgage Link turned down its offer to acquire 100% ownership of the entire group, Lifetime had decided it was time to move on, he says.

Lifetime will be using Allied Kiwi as its mortgage aggregation service provider - it has already been working with Allied Kiwi since acquiring the Tillman business - for all its mortgage brokers from the beginning of next year.

Lifetime's association with Mortgage Link began two years ago when it acquired The Mortgage Link Rangiora licence. It also has the Christchurch and Blenheim-based Mortgage Link offices.

Mortgage Link chief executive Rod Templeton says his company's business model and culture and quite different to Lifetime's, although it had been willing to give the co-branding strategy a trial.

"We've got a value proposition and it's different from aggregators and it's different from other franchises," Templeton says.

Mortgage Link, which still has about 21 licencees around the country, will now look at ways to maintain its presence in Christchurch, Blenheim and Rangiora, he says.

Stephens says Lifetime now has 10 mortgage brokers within its broader financial services group which has a total of 52 brokers and primarily focuses on risk advice, such as life insurance, financial planning and Kiwisaver.

Lifetime has 11 offices throughout the South Island and one in Wellington and is in "some serious negotiations" about acquiring other North Island businesses. In the meantime, its existing brokers can provide services to North Island customers using technology such as Skype, Stephens says.

Lifetime is aiming to have mortgage brokers in all its offices and sees mortgage broking as an avenue for selling other financial products, he says.

The Christchurch earthquake was a major setback for Lifetime's expansion plans.

"However, looking back over the year, we have still settled eight acquisitions/business purchases for a total north of a mil ($1 million) so I guess we should be relatively pleased with our progress," Stephens says.

The group is well on track to exceed its 2011 budget which, in the circumstances, "is simply a stunning result."

Lifetime was founded in 2006 after purchasing a Blenheim-based business.

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