Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit
Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

The celebrity businessman and host of Channel 9's The Celebrity Apprentice, Mark Bouris, says he will fire himself if his business, Yellow Brick Road does not make a profit this financial year.

Bouris made the bold declaration to the Australian Financial Review's Chanticleer columnist Tony Boyd in today's paper.

It comes at a time when the share price bounces around at 15 cents, near its record low of 13.5c. 

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

The fall in the stock over the past two years has left the group with a market cap of just over $40 million, down from about $200 million at its peak.

The mortgage lender and wealth manager made its stockmarket debut in 2011 with the kid from Punchbowl, in Sydney’s south-west, having the aim of taking on the banks, but YBR shares have crashed more than 75 per cent during the past two years. 

YBR’s recent $9.5 million ­annual loss came despite increasing its revenue 31 per cent to $218 million. 

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

In early 2014 Bouris said YBR was “on track” to deliver its maiden profit during that ­financial year.

The recent $9.5 million loss was nearly tripling the previous year’s loss of $2.6 million.

The company has lost a cumulative $36.9m over the six years since its listing which saw Bouris joined on the register by Mineral Resources founder Chris Ellison and chief executive Peter Wade, pastoralist John Kahlbetzer and Navitas boss Rod Jones.

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

Bouris plans to open 40 new branches in the next year.

It has $700 million funds under management.

"Our foot was on the pedal, metaphorically speaking, right as the market cooled this year,” Mr Bouris said, explaining the result.

Along with recent acquisitions, YBR has spent millions on advertising during the housing boom to grab a bigger slice of the market.

YBR acquired the non-bank lender Resi Mortgage in 2014 for $36 million and then took over mortgage aggregator Vow Financial for $17.6 million.

Over the past 12 months, it has spent $5.3 million on advertising and marketing with The Celebrity Apprentice largely functioning as a lengthy ad. 

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

Last week the accounting entrepreneur, Brett Kelly made an off play for the company, while saying the YBR wealth management strategy will never work.

Kelly, who owns the country's fastest-growing network of accounting firms, says people buying low value mortgages from YBR's network of 40 branches do not have enough money to make the YBR wealth management strategy profitable.

An investor update issued last week by YBR suggested its competitive advantage as scaling lending, with $38 billion in mortgages under management, distribution scale with 1500 credit representatives and brand equity, which it credited as much stronger than it competitors.

While Kelly believes that Bouris has done well to build a strong finance business, he maintains that Australians with money for wealth management do not go to mortgage brokers or any of the big four banks.

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

Last week Kelly tried to grab a stake in YBR whose two biggest shareholders are Macquarie Group and Nine Entertainment Co.

Macquarie and Nine each owns a 20 per cent stake in YBR and both are strategic partners of YBR.

Macquarie supplies YBR with mortgage loans while Nine has been supplying a certain amount of free advertising as part of a contra deal from 2012 worth $6.5 million.  

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

Bouris admitted to Chanticleer that his reputation is at stake in the quest to build YBR into one of the country's largest independent financial firms. 

The Australian newspaper reported last month that investors had lost patience in Yellow Brick Road, the listed ­financial services firm he founded in 2007 after Bouris had overhauled YBR’s structure twice this year.

Bouris, who owns more than 51 million shares, took home $1.6 million in remuneration from YBR last year, a substantial cut from the previous year’s $5.6 million.

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Mark Bouris says he will fire himself if YBR doesn't make a profit

The reduction in pay also came with more responsibility as the latest restructure cut five senior positions.

The Australian noted YBR has paid millions in advisory fees to BBB Capital and Golden Wealth Holdings.

BBB Capital is an investment advisory group founded by Mark Bouris and his brother Adrian, both of whom sit on the YBR board.

BBB Capital has collected $2.2 million in fees from YBR over the past six years, while Golden Wealth, an entity controlled by Mark Bouris, has been paid $3.9 million in consultancy fees from YBR over the same period.

Last month YBR ­announced the sale of the wealth division’s accounting business and legal practice to the former owner David Carr for nearly $2 million, with a consideration of an extra $2.8m over the next five years.

“I’m going to spend the next two to three years driving into hitting our capacity,” Mr Bouris recently told The Weekend Australian.

“I’m gonna be working a lot harder than I’ve ever worked,” he said.

“Not everyone necessarily wants to do that but that’s the way I run things. And if they don’t want to do it they can leave …

“I’m interested in people who will roll their sleeves up and get things done and actually go to the branches and see the customers. I don’t care if it’s me or the CEO — they’ve got to go and do it.”

Mr Bouris put down the collapse in the YBR stock price to the state of the market clinging to yield stocks, or companies that pay out generous dividends, and said investors weren’t rewarding ambition.

“The market is looking for yield. We’re a growth stock. Our aim is to take market share from our competitors. And I don’t make any apologies for that.”

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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