REA Group has hired a mortgage industry veteran to lead the group’s push into financial services.
Andrew Russell has been appointed executive director of the newly launched REA Financial Services. He was responsible for launching Virgin Home Loans in Australia and more recently was general manager of third-party and product distribution at Mortgage Choice.
Mr Russell’s new role will be to work on the opportunity that REA Group sees in mortgages, particularly around how the group can leverage realestate.com.au.
“A big part of looking at housing is finding out how much you can borrow,” Mr Russell said.
“There is a lot of work being done in the background and I'm looking at ways we can build capability to increase our presence in the mortgage leads space."
REA Group made a smaller push into home loans in June when it formed a partnership with Australia’s largest mortgage broking aggregation group, AFG.
“What is very exciting for me is leveraging off the work that has already been done and exploring opportunities to work out what will be the best for REA Group and best for our consumers. And then bringing it to market quickly,” he said.
Mr Russell said REA Group’s research suggests that visitors to realestate.com.au aren’t just interested in property but also want help regarding mortgages.
“It is a really exciting time as we explore our options and look closely at how people research and access finance now and how this might change in the future,” he said.
One of the most powerful aspects of REA Group’s venture into financial services is the potential to leverage its data insights, so long as they are used in a way that respects personal privacy and maintains consumer trust, according to Mr Russell.
“The house is the epicentre of the finance transaction and, as a national business, REA Group has a good understanding of what is going on in the market,” he said.
“Using that as an advantage will be useful in terms of being able to serve consumers with products that will meet their needs.”
Mr Russell said that REA Group is also investigating commercial lending opportunities and is meeting with potential partners.
[Related: REA Group signs deal to buy $751m firm]