After a decade of decline, prospects for margin lending and other equity investment gearing products may be looking up. The latest data shows a pickup in lending and a well-known stockbroking firm has made a significant investment in geared equity products.
According to the latest Reserve Bank margin lending data, the number of margin loan client accounts grew for the first time since 2009. Accounts number increased from 98,000 in the June quarter last year to 111,000 in the September quarter.
Bell Financial Group has acquired two structured loan products – Equity Lever and Geared Equity Investments – from Macquarie Group.
The acquisitions increase the size of Bell’s loan book to $550 million.
The company says the value of the acquisitions is that will significantly increase its access to independent financial planners and provide new product for its stockbroking clients.
Researcher Investment Trends released a report on margin lending in January, saying more financial planners and brokers see the benefit for their clients in the product.
It says 87 per cent of stockbrokers believe their clients can benefit from the use of borrowings to boost investment returns – up from 72 percent in its 2018 survey. Among financial planners, 89 per cent believe their clients can benefit – up from 82 per cent in 2018.
Investment Trends research director Recep Peker said there were still significant barriers. Thirty per cent of brokers said the product was too risky for their clients. Other reasons for not using equity gearing was that clients did not understand it and that investors did not want to deal with margin calls.
Planners and brokers also said it required a “high level of effort” to sell the product and in many cases it was not worthwhile.
Peker said brokers and planners would like to see some product innovation, particularly if margin calls could be eliminated.
NAB has developed a product called Equity Builder, which operates more like a principal and interest investment property loan. To minimise risk, the portfolio must be broadly diversified and investments made in approved managed funds.