The growing popularity of neobanks in Australia

Neobanks are becoming increasingly popular in Australia as people look for different avenues to manage their money. The recent banking royal commission has also seen people look for solutions outside the big banks for financial products.

What is a neobank?

Neobanks are digital banks. They don’t have any bricks and mortar branches, and you interact with the bank almost entirely on your smartphone through the neobank’s app. The presence of neobanks has grown rapidly in Australia since 2018 when the government passed legislation allowing neobanks to obtain a restricted authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) licence for two years as they build up their business.

As primarily app-based banks, neobanks offer additional in-app features that you may not see in your traditional banking apps.

What neobanks are available in Australia?

Many digital banks have established themselves in Australia since 2018. Some of the big names include:

  • Xinja (pronounced zin-ja): Offers products including, ‘Stash’, a high-interest savings account and a transaction account. It will launch loans and mortgages next year.
  • 86400 (pronounced 86-400): Offers high-interest savings accounts and it’s the only neobank that directly provides home loans.
  • Volt: Launching soon. Waitlist customers currently have access to a savings account.
  • Up: Operates on Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s licence. Offers savings and transaction accounts.
  • Judo: Specialised in business lending.

What are the pros and cons of banking with a neobank?

One of the biggest advantages of banking with a neobank is reduced costs. With no branches and lower demand for resources than traditional banks, you can expect your fees to be lower with a neobank. This also feeds into the ability to offer customers higher interest rates on deposits and competitive mortgage rates.

With a neobank, there’s no need for paperwork or physical forms as everything is done through the app. The tech-focused nature of neobanks also provides customers with data-driven insights, such as identifying higher than normal bills and charges for forgotten subscriptions.

As a relatively new entrant to the industry, the major downside, if you like doing things in person, is that there are no branches to visit. Further, if you like to have a range of banking products in one place, a neobank may not be for you as most in Australia only offer savings accounts, transaction accounts and limited financing facilities.

Is my money safe in a neobank?

All neobanks need to pass APRA’s lengthy regulatory process to secure an ADI. Just like traditional banks, customer deposits up to $250,000 are guaranteed by the government.

How to invest in a neobank?

Investing in a neobank can take place during a capital raise period. Xinja, for example, launched their first retail crowdfunding campaign in 2017, allowing people to invest from just $1,000.

Neobanks represent the changing face of banking and financial sbanervices in Australia and people are now more open to banking outside traditional banks. Before you switch to a neobank, make sure you do your research to decide if it’s the best option for you.

The opinions and recommendations provided are not intended to be relied upon as personal advice as they do not take into account your personal circumstances. You need to assess your own position or call us for professional advice.

 

Get in touch with our expert team to learn more.

Waiting in cash until share markets fall

As any long-term share market investor knows, markets can go up and they can go down. While most people view a falling market as a bad thing, some investors see it as a buying opportunity. After all, it’s better to pay, say, $60 for a share after a market dip than $100 for the same share at the market peak.

Of course, to be able to exploit these buying opportunities, the cash needs to be available. That means hoarding some extra cash while markets are happy in anticipation of a rainy day. It also means having a strategy around when to invest, how much to invest, how long to hold and what to invest in. There isn’t a single, off the shelf solution to this, but 58-year-old Barry provides an example of what the rainy day investor needs to think about.

How much?

Barry is a seasoned investor with a sizeable self-managed super fund. He has weathered several market slumps over the years, and when markets are trading normally, with low volatility, he is happy to build up a cash reserve of up to 20% of his fund’s value to be used when the share market goes ‘on sale’. The cash comes from dividends and distributions, contributions and realised capital gains.

When to invest?

With no hard and fast rules, Barry decides that if the market falls by 10 per cent he will invest 25 per cent of his reserved cash. For each further fall of 10 per cent he will invest a further 25 per cent, so after a market fall of 40 per cent, all his cash stash will be invested. This could occur in a short time period or evolve over many months of ups and downs. In some market corrections he may not use all of this cash.

What to invest in?

Barry has some favourite shares and if they fall significantly in value he will top up his holdings. However, he knows this involves more risk than buying the market, so most of his purchases will be of index funds.

How long to hold?

In volatile markets price movements can be sudden, dramatic, and in either direction. Barry’s strategy is to sell any shares that produce a gain of 20 per cent or more during the recovery phase. He also uses stop-loss orders to provide some protection from further sharp falls. Barry also limits himself to buying quality assets, and is prepared to hold them long term if the recovery is a slow one.

Barry knows his strategy isn’t perfect. If share prices don’t fall, he is left holding larger amounts of low-yielding cash than would normally be the case. If they fall a long way, he’ll miss out on buying at the bottom of the market. But Barry gains some peace of mind that if (or when) market corrections do occur, his strategy should provide some protection to his super portfolio and improve his long-term position.

Seek advice

This is just one example of a rainy day cash strategy. Everyone’s circumstances differ, and it is important to seek appropriate advice specific to your situation. Talk to your Bridges financial planner about a solution that’s right for you.

The faster way to a life supported by passive income

Imagine that… without any effort on your part, enough money regularly pours into your bank account to meet (or exceed) all your living expenses. Suddenly, work becomes optional and a world of opportunities opens up. That’s the ultimate in passive income – all your financial needs met without lifting a finger.

The fast way to a life supported by passive income is to win the lottery or receive a large inheritance. Invested wisely, large lump sums can generate rental income, interest, share dividends and capital growth, all of which can replace an earned income but without the hard work.

Other forms of passive income include royalties on book sales, licensing fees on patents and, increasingly, income associated with creation of Internet content, such as YouTube videos. However, while these passive income streams may become geese that lay golden eggs, it takes a lot of effort to write a book, develop an invention, or create popular Internet content.

And the unfortunate reality is that we can’t all be lottery winners or best-selling authors, genius inventors or Internet sensations. We can, however, start to build a nest egg that will grow over time, to replace our active income in the future. In fact, if you’re working and receiving employer superannuation contributions, you’re already on the path to generating a passive income. You may just have to wait awhile until you can enjoy it. With its generous tax breaks, superannuation is likely to play a leading role in most passive income strategies. However, with its restrictions on access, if you are some years away from retirement age you may want to pursue a more flexible approach to developing a passive income stream. How? It all begins with a savings plan.

This simply involves making regular contributions to a suitable investment vehicle. This might be an interest-paying bank account, but as your nest egg grows you can diversify into potentially higher performing investments such as managed funds, direct shares and or even direct property.

Importantly, by reinvesting the income produced by your savings plan you’ll tap into the power of compound interest. Over the long term, compounding is the powerhouse that will contribute the most to your future passive income stream. As the income produced by your portfolio increases, so do your options. For example, you might want to cut back to working part time.

One other form of passive income worth mentioning is the age pension. If you’re over age pension age it may be a good idea to investigate strategies to maximise your pension entitlement. Just make sure the overall result is positive.

Ready to pursue the potential of passive income? Your Bridges financial adviser will be happy to help you take that first step. Book an appointment today!