AFG reshapes executive team

Australian Finance Group has reshaped its executive team in preparation for the heightened industry and regulatory engagement required in the post-Royal Commission environment.

Reflecting AFG’s increasingly diversified earnings base, the management changes also consolidate executive accountability for all residential mortgage product sales and elevate the leadership role for the growing AFG Securities (AFGS) business.

Under the new structure, AFG General Manager Residential & Broker Mark Hewitt will take up the new position of General Manager Industry & Partnership Development. AFG Home Loans General Manager Chris Slater will assume the broader sales and distribution leadership role across both the residential broking and the AFG Home Loans businesses. AFG will also appoint a General Manager for the AFGS business, a new role on the executive team that reflects the increasing importance of the business line.

After leading AFG Sales and Distribution team for the past 13 years, Mark will maintain responsibility for the company’s residential mortgage lending relationships and his mandate will be expanded to include all lender relationships across our AFG Home Loans, Commercial, AFG Business and Personal Loans business lines.

AFG Chief Executive Officer David Bailey said “The external forces impacting our business across the past 18 months have underlined why it is crucial to constantly engage with the broader industry and continue to position AFG as taking a leadership role in the market with both regulators and our lending partners.

“While we have done a tremendous job in reminding regulators, politicians and the broader community of the vital role our industry plays in delivering a competitive lending market, we must ensure that the broker proposition remains front and centre of the debate as the industry shapes its future over the next three years.

“During the recent challenges the mortgage broking sector has faced, Mark has played a significant role in ongoing advocacy of both AFG and the broader industry, stewarding much of the activity undertaken as our industry became a focus during the election campaign.

“With the three-year review period now underway, the need for AFG and the industry more widely to represent our brokers positively in the eyes of regulators and government is even more important. Mark will focus on our engagement with regulators and work to drive positive change across the industry.

“With Mark’s move into the new role, Chris will assume the position of Head of Sales and Distribution for all residential products and continue his influence over AFG’s commercial white label Thinktank product.

“Chris has a depth and breadth of knowledge across our business with his moves from National Accounts Manager in Queensland to NSW State Manager to General Manager AFG Home Loans in Perth. The skill sets and passion Chris has demonstrated in those roles over the past 12 years will hold him in good stead as he takes up this new challenge. I congratulate both Mark and Chris on their appointments.

“The changes strengthen our leadership across the business and reflect the priorities of the business as we continue the diversification of our earnings base.”

AFG is planning to invest in a growing part of its business with a newly created role of General Manager for its AFG Securities business. AFGS hit a milestone recently when it reached $2 billion under management, underlining the growth of the business line.

Kitchen renos – All you knead to know to add dough to the value of your house

When it comes to buying a house, the kitchen is one of the most important features home buyers take into consideration.

If your kitchen is more drab than fab, it’s time for a spruce up. Too often when we talk about renovations it can seem overwhelming – too costly, too hard, too time consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s look at some of the things to consider if you decide a kitchen renovation is on the cards.

Get the reno right and guarantee instant appeal for prospective buyers – it could be the thing that clinches the deal.

Theme

The kitchen is the heartbeat of the house. You want it to have a character that suits the rest of the interior and blends in with the general theme of the house. If you aren’t confident with your own design ability, invest in an hour with a designer or colour specialist. You might think that their fee is on the high side, but relatively speaking it can be a small expense that could add thousands of dollars to the end result, not to mention save you from hours of confusion! The consultant will come to you, get an idea of your tastes and budget, and create a palette of colours and materials for your kitchen. Think of this person as an inspiration giver.

Lighting

When slicing and dicing it’s important to have adequate lighting. After all, the only thing you want to chop up is dinner. This, of course, means there are no pesky shadows being cast over the bench, a hot stove or oven. While it’s essential to have good lighting in the kitchen from a practical perspective, it can also have a big impact on the mood of the room so it’s crucial to get it right – lighting plays both a practical and aesthetic role. LED strips are particularly effective as task lighting, especially when placed under a shelf to illuminate the bench beneath.

Benches

Having plenty of bench space is a must for anyone who enjoys cooking. It also means you have room for the coffee machine and any of the latest gadgets that heighten your culinary competence. The type of surface you choose can really make a difference to the feel of the room. Whether granite or wood, stone, stainless steel, concrete or laminate, each has its own unique character that can impact the atmosphere you are trying to achieve. Keep in mind that natural benchtops (such as marble and timber) will stain, but this isn’t a bad thing. Over time those marks will build up a beautiful patina that tell a story of hours spent creating delicious food for those you love.

Storage

In a world of whiz-bang appliances, surely you can never have too many? But with extra appliances comes the need for adequate storage so your kitchen appears clean and uncluttered. An inbuilt bookshelf is a must to keep all those beautiful cookbooks on display – and at your fingertips too. Deep drawers are a non-negotiable for pots and pans and should be below the bench. A good tip is to make sure they aren’t too wide, so to prevent two people from cooking alongside each other at the bench. Ensure everything below the bench is designated drawer space and all above it, shelves or cupboards – it will look better and adds to the convenience factor. Kick activated drawers on the lowest level are an especially helpful feature. Place your bin drawer as close as possible to where the food preparation will occur for speedy disposal of scraps.

Butler’s pantry

So, you may not have a butler but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the pantry… space allowing. A butler’s pantry is essentially a kitchen within a kitchen and includes a sink, food preparation area and storage for food, appliances and utensils. Great for hiding the dirty dishes after a meal, they are becoming increasingly popular in Australia.

Wine storage

If you appreciate a fine drop, wine racks can add an extra layer of sophistication to your kitchen. There are many novel ways of keeping your bottles of vino stored correctly, including purpose-built kick-activated drawers or island bench cubby holes. And don’t forget the wine fridge – to chill the whites or keep the beer cold – but place it away from the work spaces to separate the food prep action from the tipple seekers.

Extra smart ideas

  • We love the idea of a chalkboard to leave notes and add a touch of creative flair to the hub of the home – for shopping lists, menu dish ideas and kids’ chore reminders.
  • Replacing tired bench stools is an inexpensive way of refreshing the décor – you might want to take it up a notch with the hue of these to inject a pop of colour into an otherwise minimal colour scheme – think bright yellow or pastel pink.
  • If your space is small, consider adding a mirror splashback to help reflect light and create a feeling of openness
  • Don’t forget to position the oven, fridge and sink close to each other for convenient movement between these utilities.

Official RBA cash rate decreased

With the uncertainty of the federal election behind it, the RBA has decided to reduce the official cash rate to 1.25% as it tries to stimulate household spending and the economy. This is the first rate move since August 2016 and I’d like to share some thoughts on why the Reserve Bank of Australia has made this decision.

In making this decision the RBA has taken into account inflation being below its target range of 2-3%, continued pressure on house prices, evidence of rising levels of mortgage stress, a borrowing squeeze in response to the Banking Royal Commission, slow wages growth and continued concerns around the level of under employment.

Lenders continue to review rates independently of the RBA with some making reductions. It is therefore important to review your lending options regularly to ensure they remain the most suitable for your situation. There may be different rates available from our wide panel of lenders and an AFG broker is always available to ensure you have the right financial solution for your current and future 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.