Interview: Tim Boon, Director: Total Lifestyle Credit
After noticing a gap in the medical finance sector, Mr Boon’s credit service has gone from strength to strength.
After noticing a gap in the medical finance sector, Mr Boon’s credit service has gone from strength to strength.
What are Total Lifestyle Credit’s (TLC) goals for the consumer?
TLC’s goal for the consumer is to provide a quick and easy financial platform that allows them to break their upfront payment into smaller more manageable payments over a longer period.
This allows them to have their product or service now, rather than having to wait months or years by giving them an array of options and opportunities to choose a payment plan that suits their specific needs and personal goals.
Having a broader funding option also gives TLC a greater opportunity for the client to get the right approval result.
What makes it different from other finance providers?
With a range of underwriters, we are able to provide the best financial product for the client based on their personal situation. This is alongside real people who listen and talk to the client through the process at each step of the way. Making their otherwise uncomfortable transaction very comfortable and hassle-free.
Additionally, TLC has over 1800 professional partners on board, this gives clients the opportunity to get that extra reassurance and expert opinion before they make what can be seen as a life-altering decision.
A big invoice can be daunting for clients and can often be a deal-breaker. When funding is easily accessible and affordable it is a “win-win” for both business and client.
How did you build the business in its early years?
I am hugely passionate about the medical sector and noticed a lack of funding options available to the public, in 2004 I started MacCredit a patient funding platform and grew it to the largest medical loan business in Australia, successfully selling to a Private Equity firm in 2016.
It definitely was a very hard sell to the medical and cosmetic sector, however after 24 months a lot of businesses saw the service and integrity I was delivering. I started Total Lifestyle Credit (TLC) in 2019 my new consumer lending platform that commenced in 2019.
What’s the reasoning for the pillars of medical, dental, lifestyle and wedding?
At TLC we hold the utmost importance at looking after our clients in relation to their specific needs. For example a client who is looking at a financial payment plan for a wedding will have a very different needs compared to an individual who is seeking finance for a medical procedure that their child needs. This allows us to personalise our interactions with the client based on the service they seek. TLC aspires to help every individual that we can, if there is a client that is in need of funds for a dental procedure and their friend needs funds for a holiday, we are happy to say that we can help both of those individuals, with the same level of service and enthusiasm.
Roughly what percentage of the business does each pillar represent?
Medical – 60%
Broker – 10%
Lifestyle – 20%
Wedding – 10%
You’ve alluded to the fact that TLC goes beyond cosmetic procedures including IVF programs, eye surgery and more — you note a shift away from private health insurance. Why?
The reason individuals are shifting away from private health insurance is that they do not see the value in it anymore. Young individuals are less likely to choose to continue their private health insurance after their family coverage no longer applies to them. TLC offers the opportunity to receive funds almost instantly, rather than having to wait until the benefits of private health insurance kick in. We fund all treatment costs for all medical/cosmetic fees and with little to no early payout fees so the patient can control their repayment timeline.
Australian citizens are spending about $1 billion on cosmetic procedures every year — per capita, around 40% more than Americans do – why do you think it’s so high in Australia?
There is less of a stigma in Australia when it comes to having cosmetic procedures. Social media marketing in reference to cosmetic procedures are increasingly common, creating an inviting space for individuals to be able to seek professional advice on their personalised goal.
How has the market been affected by COVID (if at all)?
Covid has affected the industry quite significantly. Clients have had to opt to have their procedures within Australia instead of the choice of overseas treatment. It has also provided the time and space for patients to focus on themselves. This has increased the demand for TLC during Covid and people are able to have their procedures with minimum downtime from work.
What do you think the future of cosmetic procedures going forward?
TLC is excited to see the growth of the cosmetic world as we see great potential. Already in the past years, TLC has been operating we have seen a reduction of Brazilian butt lift procedures coming through and an influx of breast augmentation. Cosmetic procedures are evidently becoming more popular and desirable to individuals, with an array of talented surgeons coming on board. This ensures us to believe that the cosmetic industry only has one way to go and that’s up!
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
Investors are taming impulsive money moves by adding a little friction to financial transactions
To break the day-trading habit that cost him friendships and sleep, crypto fund manager Thomas Meenink first tried meditation and cycling. They proved no substitute for the high he got scrolling through investing forums, he said.
Instead, he took a digital breath. He installed software that imposed a 20-second delay whenever he tried to open CoinStats or Coinbase.
Twenty seconds might not seem like much, but feels excruciating in smartphone time, he said. As a result, he checks his accounts 60% less.
“I have to consciously make an effort to go look at stuff that I actually want to know instead of scrolling through feeds and endless conversations about stuff that is actually not very useful,” he said.
More people are adding friction to curb all types of impulsive behaviour. App-limiting services such as One Sec and Opal were originally designed to help users cut back on social-media scrolling.
Now, they are being put to personal-finance use by individuals and some banking and investing platforms. On One Sec, the number of customers using the app to add a delay to trading or banking apps more than quintupled between 2021 and 2022. Opal says roughly 5% of its 100,000 active users rely on the app to help spend less time on finance apps, and 22% use it to block shopping apps such as Amazon.com Inc.
Economic researchers and psychologists say introducing friction into more apps can help people act in their own best interests. Whether we are trading or scrolling social media, the impulsive, automatic decision-making parts of our brains tend to win out over our more measured critical thinking when we use our smartphones, said Ankit Kalda, a finance professor at Indiana University who has studied the impact of mobile trading apps on investor behaviour.
His 2021 study tracked the behaviour of investors on different platforms over seven years and found that experienced day traders made more frequent, riskier bets and generated worse returns when using a smartphone than when using a desktop trading tool.
Most financial-technology innovation over the past decade focused on reducing the friction of moving money around to enable faster and more seamless transactions. Apps such as Venmo made it easier to pay the babysitter or split a bill with friends, and digital brokerages such as Robinhood streamlined mobile trading of stocks and crypto.
These innovations often lead customers to trade or buy more to the benefit of investing and finance platforms. But now, some customers are finding ways to slow the process. Meanwhile, some companies are experimenting with ways to create speed bumps to protect users from their own worst instincts.
When investing app Stash launched retirement accounts for customers in 2017, its customer-service representatives were flooded with calls from panicked customers who moved quickly to open up IRAs without understanding there would be penalties for early withdrawals. Stash funded the accounts in milliseconds once a customer opted in, said co-founder Ed Robinson.
So to reduce the number of IRAs funded on impulse, the company added a fake loading page with additional education screens to extend the product’s onboarding process to about 20 seconds. The change led to lower call-centre volume and a higher rate of customers deciding to keep the accounts funded.
“It’s still relatively quick,” Mr. Robinson said, but those extra steps “allow your brain to catch up.”
Some big financial decisions such as applying for a mortgage or saving for retirement can benefit from these speed bumps, according to ReD Associates, a consulting firm that specialises in using anthropological research to inform design of financial products and other services. More companies are starting to realise they can actually improve customer experiences by slowing things down, said Mikkel Krenchel, a partner at the firm.
“This idea of looking for sustainable behaviour, as opposed to just maximal behaviour is probably the mind-set that firms will try to adopt,” he said.
Slowing down processing times can help build trust, said Chianoo Adrian, a managing director at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. When the money manager launched its online retirement checkup tool last year, customers were initially unsettled by how fast the website estimated their projected lifetime incomes.
“We got some feedback during our testing that individuals would say ‘Well, how did you know that already? Are you sure you took in all my responses?’ ” she said. The company found that the delay increased credibility with customers, she added.
For others, a delay might not be enough to break undesirable habits.
More people have been seeking treatment for day-trading addictions in recent years, said Lin Sternlicht, co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist, who has seen an increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.
“By the time individuals seek out professional help they are usually experiencing a crisis, and there is often pressure to seek help from a loved one,” she said.
She recommends people who believe they might have a day-trading problem unsubscribe from notifications and emails from related companies and change the color scheme on the trading apps to grayscale, which has been found to make devices less addictive. In extreme cases, people might want to consider deleting apps entirely.
For Perjan Duro, an app developer in Berlin, a 20-second delay wasn’t enough. A few months after he installed One Sec, he went a step further and deleted the app for his retirement account.
“If you don’t have it on your phone, [that] helps you avoid that bad decision,” he said.
Investing app Robinhood blocked access to GameStop and other highflying names on Thursday as trading surged among retail users. The move comes after GameStop (GME) stock has shot higher over the past week, inspiring a short squeeze. The action — driven by retail traders often using options — has spread to other names like BlackBerry (BB), AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC), and Bed …
Continue reading “Robinhood Blocks Buying in GameStop, AMC, and Other Stocks. Other Brokers Also Add Guardrails.”
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