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Annie Kane 14 minute read

Every year, The Adviser commissions Momentum Intelligence to undertake its annual Third-Party Lending Report to understand what brokers think of the lenders they are using. This year, once again, a new major bank has pushed full steam ahead, as broker sentiment towards the big four continues to evolve in line with their service offering. Annie Kane reveals more

Our annual Third-Party Lending Report (TPLR) is a true snapshot of what has been happening in the contemporary lending landscape. In 2018, the TPLR survey was conducted during the Productivity Commission and many of the comments from our broker respondents focused on how the major banks treated the broking channel during those hearings. The following year, the royal commission took place and – again – the way the lenders treated brokers had a real impact on how the channel viewed their lending partners.

This year, the survey was conducted at the height of the COVID-19 health crisis within Australia, and the way the lenders have been reacting and writing business over this time has again had a large influence over how brokers view the lenders. But, as we outline in the following pages, while behaviour at any one point in time may influence perceptions, the channel still most values lenders who can deliver on what they say they will: providing good products, with a good rate, within a short time frame.

The steam in the engine

Now in its 11th year of publication, the Third-Party Lending Report collates the findings of Momentum Intelligence’s annual survey of the lending experiences of mortgage and finance brokers in Australia.

The results of the annual survey paint a holistic picture of the performance of lenders in the third-party lending channel and provide insights to lenders on how they can improve their proposition in the marketplace, all while informing brokers of those lenders outperforming others. 

In this year’s survey, conducted between 24 February and 15 April 2020, 879 mortgage and finance brokers rated the performance of the lenders that they have worked with over the last 12 months. It should be noted that, as the survey was conducted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, the overall sample size reduced on previous years, as many brokers saw major increases to their workloads while they supported consumers moving to refinance their loans and/or applying for hardship provision (turn to page 20 for more).

The survey asked brokers to rate the performance of the residential mortgage lenders (both banks and non-banks) that they had used across 17 attributes covering product, support and technology.

This year, brokers were also asked for their perceptions around commercial, business and personal lending. However, the vast majority of respondents (768) were residential brokers responding about residential mortgages.

Interestingly, Momentum Intelligence found that perceptions of lenders across the board had increased from last year. As an example, the highest-rated lender last year (Bankwest) received a total score of just under 76 per cent, but this year it was just over 83 per cent.

Likewise, the big four banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac) all scored much more highly this year than last, with even the lowest-rated major bank receiving a higher total score from brokers than the highest one did last year. This could partly be attributed to the fact that last year’s survey was conducted when the banking royal commission was fresh in brokers’ minds and therefore sentiment towards the majors (particularly when it came to broker support) was low.

Just the ticket

While Bankwest was found to be the top-rated lender across all segments for the fourth year in a row, its parent company, CBA, also ranked highly this year – coming top for the major banks.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s total score from brokers was 75 per cent in 2020, a radical change from its fourth position last year, when it received a total score of 62 per cent. Its total score this year ranked it ninth of all 18 authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs).

The major bank, which was much maligned in the 2019 survey (following comments made during the royal commission), improved in its ratings for every category in 2020, most noticeably in the “commitment to the broker channel” rating, which rose 28 per cent on last year (following a drastic fall after certain comments made during the royal commission). However, the bank still rates lowest for this attribute out of the four majors – at 62 per cent – as it does for channel conflict (57 per cent).

Brokers rated the bank most highly for its product policy, product range, upfront valuations and web presence.

ANZ and Westpac held onto their same places as last year in the major bank ranking (second and third, respectively). While Westpac didn’t come out on top for any of the 17 attributes this year, ANZ’s business development managers were again singled out by brokers for being exceptional – ranking first of the majors for this category once again.

Crossing tracks

While CBA was charging full steam ahead of the major bank segments, it had reversed fortunes with National Australia Bank (NAB).

NAB’s products were much better rated this year, with the former major bank leader being best rated for “product pricing” when compared with the other three majors.

However, brokers told Momentum Intelligence that it had dropped in competitive edge when it came to “broker communication”, “online lodgements” and “turnaround times”. Brokers gave NAB a turnaround time score of 44 per cent this year, dropping significantly from its 2019 score of 62 per cent. This was a major contributing factor to the major bank’s fall from pole position to fourth place this year.

Indeed, turnaround times were the key point of difference for brokers this year across all lender segments. Looking at all 17 attributes brokers rate, the TPLR 2020 shows that the most important factors that brokers consider when making a recommendation to a client are:

  1. Product policy
  2. Upfront valuations
  3. Turnaround times
  4. Product pricing
  5. Credit assessment staff

While the majority of these are the usual deciding factors for brokers, “commitment to the broker channel” dropped off the top four influencing factors this year (placing eighth out of 17 attributes brokers consider). However, its high influence in last year’s survey was most likely due to the fact that the threat of the royal commission made brokers particularly loyal to those lenders who backed them in 2018.

As commitment to broker channel fell in priority, turnaround times increased in importance – with the research showing that it was the third most important factor brokers considered when choosing lender in the past year – up from fifth place in 2019’s report.

Many of the comments to Momentum Intelligence indicated that the cashback offers put into market by NAB led to delays in approvals and assessment times, which could account for its low score for this particular attribute.

In fact, brokers generally took umbrage with the majors for releasing cashback refinance offers without seeming to provide adequate support to service them. As the broker comments show, this was a major influencing factor this year. Given the fact that the majors were rated quite favourably this year, it would seem that if the major banks can provide the consistency in turnaround times when special offers are on, coupled with good product policy and upfront valuations (the top two influencing factors for a high rating), it would go a long way with improving broker sentiment towards them. 

Brokers’ comments

Turning round the turnarounds

This year, turnaround times were the main broker bugbear – with brokers telling Momentum Intelligence that the majors were suffering, in particular.

  •  “Improve service levels overall. Turnaround times are ridiculously slow. The majors have had no improvement in 20 years despite the technology we now have.”
  •  “They need to improve turnaround times to pick up a loan file and make a decision. Then there is the mater of setting the loan. Too many issues of late.”
  •  “Westpac and BOM are taking 22-25 days to pick a file up. This makes us not go to them as turnaround times are too long! For me, turnaround time is crucial as clients tend to walk away if the bank takes too long to decision a deal.”
  •  “NAB in particular has to get back in control of turnaround times.”
  •  “ANZ and St.George have made changes for the worst and have made things more complicated and time-consuming, especially with servicing, pricing, valuations etc.”
  •  “Since the COVID-19 hit us, credit approval turnaround times have gone from a 24-hour approval to two weeks. I guess they are focusing their priorities on loan payment deferral packages.”
  •  “Turnaround times are critical. Communication during the loan process also needs to improve. There needs to be a drive towards electronic documentation so we reduce amount of documents/paper we send clients.”
  •  “Lenders should put more resources to improve their turnaround times for approvals to enhance customer experience and get the credit managers to contact the brokers directly for small questions which can be solved with a phone call and the file can keep moving.”

The 17 attributes brokers were asked to rate banks on

Product

  • Product range: Overall quality and comprehensiveness of residential mortgage products.
  • Product pricing: Competitiveness of pricing of products across key market segments.
  • Product policy: Comprehensiveness and clarity of product policies across key market segments.

Personnel

  • BDMs: Overall quality of BDMs (access to BDMs, BDM proactivity and effectiveness in solving problems).
  • Credit assessment staff: Access to and ease in dealing/communicating with credit assessment staff, including their consistency of credit decisions.
  • Call centre support: Overall service quality, including staff technical knowledge, responsiveness and helpfulness.

Speed

  • Turnaround times: Overall end-to-end turnaround speed, including application processing, loan approval and mortgage contract timeliness

Support

  • Client support: Effectiveness in servicing your clients post- settlement.
  • Training and education: Provision and quality of training, whether product-specific, compliance or otherwise.
  • Broker communication: Effectiveness of communication with brokers (verbal, written or otherwise) when dealing with queries, issues, product price/policy changes or servicing times.
  • Channel conflict: Overall approach to the third-party channel compared with their branch network. Consider the availability of certain products, promotion of the third-party channel, preferential treatment regarding rates and LVRs.
  • Commitment to the broker channel: Lender’s ongoing commitment and loyalty to the channel, enhancing services and support to brokers and their businesses.

Technology

  • Online lodgements: Overall efficiencies, useability and functionality of the system.
  • Online application status tracking: The system’s features, overall efficiency and user experience.
  • Online resources: Comprehensiveness of resources, such as latest forms, new products and policy information.
  • Upfront valuations: Overall functionality, user experience and effectiveness of the system, and whether it provides greater consistency and rigour in the valuation ordering process.
  • Web presence: Effectiveness of broker web portal, considering product and servicing information available and ease of navigation.

 

The Adviser will be publishing further analysis and the top-rated lenders of the other competitive sets (non-major banks and non-banks) in upcoming features of The Adviser magazine.

Stay tuned for the August edition of The Adviser magazine, in which we will reveal how brokers rated the non-major banks in this year’s survey, the areas in which they are leading, and where there is room for improvement.

The full comprehensive results of the Third-Party Lending Report 2020 are available for purchase through Momentum Intelligence. This interactive report is designed to be a detailed competitive analysis tool for lenders to view, compare and contrast their performance against the market.

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Annie Kane

Annie Kane

Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.

As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts. 

Email Annie at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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