ONGOING anti-bank sentiment augurs well for non-bank lenders, and one WA company looking to seize the moment is Homeloans Limited.Managing director Tim Holmes is hoping to raise $15 million in a public float with aims to list on the Australian Stock Exchange on March 1.The money raised will be channelled to increasing Homeloans’ market share in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria both organically and through the acquisition of existing mortgage originators.Mr Holmes believes the next few years will be a period of consolidation for the industry as the players jockey for an increased market share.And, while the focus for the company will be shifting east, Mr Holmes has no intention to shift head offices from Perth where he works with business partner Rob Salmon.Born and bred in WA, the financier loves the lifestyle the State has to offer and the huge opportunities for his own company, but he has some concerns – particularly our heavy reliance on the resources sector and the riches it brings.“I think WA has got some challenges,” he told Business News.“And I don’t know whether there has been enough drive to be able to leverage off the natural resources we have got in WA, which I think is a bit of a pity.“We haven’t been as entrepreneurial as perhaps we should be. We still seem to have that dig it up and ship it out mentality. It’s the soft option.“Adversity is the greatest kick-starter to enterprise. At a lot of levels there is not the commitment.“I really don’t think we have taken advantage probably.”On his travels around the world, Mr Holmes is amazed by how hard it is to find Australian expertise or produce.“If you go to Malaysia there’s the Fins and the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Dutch and the English are all there but there are very few Australians,” he said.“As far as WA goes, there is tremendous opportunity but we are not taking it.”While puzzled by this loss in entrepreneurial spirit which Australians have always prided themselves on, Mr Holmes believes government may be playing a part in stifling investment and entrepreneurialism through heavy regulations.“One innovative way to address the over-regulation is to introduce a regulatory budget,” he said.“So that for every regulation that is introduced five existing could be removed so that Australia is left with the ones that count.“A criticism we often hear in this country is that it is extraordinarily difficult in this country to start a business because of all those regulatory hurdles.“What is happening in Australia is that people are starting to rely on the state to be responsible for their own actions.”He believes the finance brokers scandal was an obvious example of where investors made a mistake, were unwilling to except responsibility for their actions and then looked to the government to shoulder the responsibility and the blame.“If the market says you can borrow at 8 per cent and you are getting 15 to 20 per cent then alarm bells should start ringing,” he said.“Whatever happened to caveat emptor, whatever happened to peoples’ own responsibility to look after themselves.“People in this country are almost not being able to fail. They expect the government to come and pick them up and they blame the regulation and so constantly we get tougher and tougher regulations.“And it’s all directed at the 1 per cent who are crooks but the price is paid by the 99 per cent who are not and are genuinely trying to build a business and get on with it.“That is a great disincentive to private enterprise. You can’t have it both ways.“You can’t have private enterprise and yet have an almost socialist mentality about picking up the pieces if someone makes a stupid investment, because then you will have a proliferation of people who will come with dodgy schemes and a proliferation of people who want to invest in them chasing a big return and then we all have to pay for it.“It just doesn’t seem to me to be a sustainable business model if you like. It’s almost a ‘nanny state’ and I think that is very dangerous and it’s very dangerous for WA.“The first responsibility when you make an investment has to be yours.”Mr Holmes can see it occurring again if the stock market crashes.“The next thing is if people lose money on the stock market – you are going to have the government stepping in picking up the pieces,” he said.“It really is socialism. We are abrogating our own responsibility to live our own lives to the state.“That just means that it is going to cost us more taxes, it’s going to stifle private enterprise.“The only way people are going to get taught is for a few of them to lose their life savings.”
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