St George enjoys margin loan uplift

As investors and financial advisers grow more confident about the share market, rapid growth in margin investment loans over the September quarter is occurring outside the normal end-of-year tax planning window. The growth is exemplified by St George Bank's 20 per cent growth in margin lending business over the last 12 months. The market overall has also grown strongly, up 9.5 per cent over the year to September, according to Reserve Bank figures.

The figures show that both traditional margin loans and protected equity loans, which shield investors from margin calls, have enjoyed the growth. St George has attributed the rise to the sharemarket's recovery and heavy interest from financial planners. Amid unceretainty over a property market seen to be at its peak, there appears to be a switch from property to shares among some investors and their advisers. St George puts its higher rate of growth down to the introduction of investor-friendly loans and features introduced in recent years. These include its geared savings plan, a protected equity loan and a website to assist financial planners.

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