Big four in healthy position despite market turbulence

Major banks roundtable discusses refi boom, strong broker partnerships

Big four in healthy position despite market turbulence

The second half of 2022 is proving to be both a challenging and exciting time for Australia’s big four banks.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is moving aggressively to dampen inflation by lifting the official cash rate. At the time of printing this issue, the RBA had increased the cash rate from 0.10% in May to 2.60% in September. Of the five consecutive rate hikes, four were 50 basis point increases, and RBA governor Philip Lowe had signalled further increases could be expected.

While unemployment remains low, inflation stood at 6.1% as of September, and cost of living pressures are putting the squeeze on the average Aussie household.

 For mortgage holders there is good news and bad news. The RBA Financial Stability Review in April showed variable rate home loan borrowers had plenty of petrol left in the tank when it came to loan repayment buffers; however, the interest rate increases since then mean these buffers are being eroded.

 The median excess payment buffer for owner-occupiers with a variable rate mortgage was around 21 months’ worth of scheduled repayments in 2022 – up from around 10 months at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. CommBank also reported that one in two of its customers were more than three months’ ahead of their scheduled repayments.

 But borrowers on fixed home loan rates will soon be in for a rude shock, with the thousands due to come off their fixed rate periods over the next 12 months likely to be hit by interest rates more than double their original rates.

Interest rises are driving record numbers of homeowners to refinance. Refinancing reached a record high of 223.9 on the PEXA Refinance Index in July. More than one million Australians had refinanced their home loans in the past 12 months, and nearly 2.3 million were considering refinancing in the next two years. Much of this activity is going to come through the broker channel, which is responsible for 68% of all new residential home loans.

So what do these trends mean for mort-gage brokers and their customers, and for the major banks that provide the majority of Australia’s home loans?

MPA held its 2022 Major Banks Roundtable at Bel & Brio restaurant in Sydney, which brought representatives of Commonwealth Bank, NAB, ANZ and Westpac, as well as two mortgage brokers, together to discuss the housing market and the economy, refinancing, competition, broker partnerships and technology.

Participants from the major banks were Adam Croucher, general manager third party banking Australia at CommBank; Phil Waugh, executive broker distribution at NAB; Paul Brick, head of strategic partnerships at ANZ; and Sarah Willsallen, NSW state general manager at Westpac.

Representing the broker community were Deanna Ezzy, director and senior mortgage broker at More Than Mortgages in Canberra, and Justin Doobov, managing director at Intelligent Finance in Sydney. The two brokers were particularly keen to hear from the banks about clawbacks and net of offset.

Q: The past 12 months have been tumultuous, with the economy recovering from the pandemic but hit by higher interest rates and inflation, and supply chain issues. What are the main trends in the housing market, and how are major banks reacting to changing conditions?

In terms of trends, Phil Waugh commented that interest rates were rising at a rapid rate. “It’s not that we didn’t expect the RBA to move the cash rate. I think it was just the speed and the timing of that increase,” he said.

“The government did a really good job of helping the economy through COVID in a lot of ways that protected the economy.”

 Waugh (pictured above) pointed out that post-COVID the cash rate was moving far faster than expected, while inflation and the cost of living were much higher than anticipated.

 “The impact of rates slows down the property market and the prices that houses are demanding.,” he said.

There are also fixed rate loan expiries due to occur, and refinancing has increased. Waugh said the focus of the major banks, including NAB, was on managing retention sensibly.

 “How do we ensure that the process of refinancing into NAB is as seamless and painless and frictionless as possible?”

Waugh said all these factors had increased customers’ reliance on brokers’ expertise.

“The speed of change has been far faster than what everyone had predicted, and that has had a flow-on impact on the housing market, probably far faster than economists had forecasted,” he said.

Sarah Willsallen (pictured below) said Westpac recognised that cost of living pressures were real for lots of Australian families.

“We haven’t yet seen it flow through into some of our early indicators, like hardship and customers seeking additional assistance,” she said. “We’re monitoring it really closely.” 

Willsallen said Westpac’s modelling showed that about two-thirds of its customers were ahead on their mortgage repayments. “But our key message to all customers would simply be: if you’re finding yourself starting to find things tricky, engage your broker early.”

She added that there were many options available for assistance options. “As a bank – and we’d all be the same – our hardship teams are all amazing, and they’re all here to help. So the key message is just: the earlier you talk to your bank, the earlier you talk to your broker if you’re finding things difficult, the more options that we’ve got, the more we can assist.”

Commenting on why banks, including ANZ, had not seen large numbers of customers seeking assistance, Paul Brick (pictured below) said it was partly due to the “number of fixed rate loans taken, so many payments are still at that lower level”.

“Last year, about 45% of our entire book of new loans were fixed. As they start to come off over the next 12 months … borrowers may move on to a rate that’s higher,” he said.

Brick echoed Willsallen’s point about hardship and having a conversation early.

“Not just for customers but for brokers as well,” he said. “We have support that we can offer brokers around discussions on hardship, structuring and so on. There are some brokers that won’t have been through this sort of cycle before, so we’re really keen to help them get on the front foot with their customers as well.”

ANZ predicts the cash rate will reach 3.35% by the end of 2022, with house prices to fall 15–20% by the end of 2023. “Our economists also talk to how low vacancy rates are offsetting that [price drop], and that’s one factor that leads to activity in the investor market and an increase in rents,” Brick said.

Adam Croucher (pictured below) said CommBank wanted to make sure brokers had the tools to have conversations with their customers when they needed to. “The feedback that we’re getting from brokers is the amount of conversations they’re having on a daily basis where their customers are contacting them, concerned about potential issues and making sure that their rate is really, really relevant.”

He said it was important to give brokers the tools to have upfront, transparent and informed conversations with customers coming off fixed rates.

 “We have certainly seen the average loan size decrease slightly, from $379,000 to $375,000 over the last six months,” Croucher added. “Certain pockets seem to be a little bit higher, but that’s expected in any sort of softening in the housing market. There’s no real alarm there. We’re all watching it very, very closely to make sure that we’ve got the support needed for customers.”

 CommBank set up hardship and financial assistance teams during COVID, which meant the bank was quicker and better equipped to have conversations with customers, rather than being reactionary. 

Broker Justin Doobov (pictured below) asked what tools the banks could now deploy to help customers post-COVID if they had lost their jobs or were struggling financially. “This is important so that we [brokers] can have the conversation with our customer and we can provide guidance as opposed to us saying, ‘Call the hardship line; we’ve got no visibility over what the bank will do’,” he said. 

Croucher said it would always be on a case-by-case basis, depending on what was most appropriate for each customer’s individual circumstances, “whether it’s a repayment holiday, whether it’s a switch to [interest only]”.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all … those options are really dependent on the customer,” he said. “During COVID we saw repayment holidays and just interest payments; the flexibility is there. The aim is to keep people in their houses.” 

Waugh agreed, saying NAB also made decisions case by case when it came to customer hardship.

Following the banking royal commission, he said a lot of focus was on the banks doing the right thing by the customer. “Then we ran into COVID and the importance of banks responding to COVID and helping customers through COVID. I thought it was outstanding. I think that the banks have actually learned from that – that it’s far better to partner with the customer, whether that’s through the broker or just directly to the customer, to actually help the customer through those trying times.”

 Waugh said more than 70% of NAB’s home loan book customers were ahead on their repayments.

 Doobov said that with talks of property prices declining over the next two years, there was a danger that some first home buyers had borrowed at 95% LVR with no LMI and could go “under water”, and the bank would be carrying negative-equity clients. He asked what the banks’ position would be in this scenario.

 “I think it’s exactly what we’re going to run into, but it’s still going to be around the long-term sustainability of the book and the customer,” Waugh said. “I wouldn’t expect us to go out and go straight into negative equity, repossess and play through that way.”

Doobov said it “may not be as favourable for the bank to place a client’s payments on hold if they’re at 95% LVR, compared to if they’re at 70%”.

This raised the question about brokers having different conversations with those clients and being unsure how the banks would act, he said. “If we can pre-position that conversation to say, ‘Look, these are your potential options, give the bank a call’ … we can manage those clients and prevent a problem from happening earlier.”

Brick said it was important to recognise that all banks had learnt lessons. “What you’re seeing this time around is house prices coming down and unemployment at historically low levels, and so perhaps there’s more tolerance for things like negative equity. But it’s going to be case by case.”

Croucher said it came down to affordability. “We’ve been regulated to make sure our assessment rates for customers are measured higher than what they’re paying, which is great protection for the customers. I think that’s been very well regulated … showing that [customers] can still afford a rate of 5.25% or 5.50%, depending on what bank you’re at.”

Historically, Australia’s housing market had seen peaks and troughs, Croucher said. “Sustaining 42% growth was always going to, at some stage, come back; 42% is not going to be sustainable forever.”

Broker Deanna Ezzy (pictured below) said she had always been of the view that banks wanted to keep loans in place and make money. “They don’t want to sell houses,” she said. “I’ve always said if it gets to that point, ‘Don’t ghost the bank; work with them. They’ll try and work with you’.

“I’m letting my clients know, given the last couple of years and how unstable everything was and how industry bodies and government and everyone came together to keep everything afloat, that we can probably feel pretty confi-dent that the powers that be are not going to let everything fall into a recession now.”

Ezzy said she was also encouraging her clients on fixed rates to start paying 5% principal and interest right now to prepare them, because that could be “where it lands”.

“And also saying, your loan was assessed at 2.5% to 3% higher, so just keep that in mind – don’t panic.”

Q: Refinancing is hitting record highs. How are you responding to such a competitive market and ensuring brokers and their clients get the best loan deal possible?

Willsallen said the current market was an incredibly competitive environment – and that’s “fabulous for customers”.

“That gives them great outcomes, and brokers are wonderful in enabling customers to have lots and lots of choices. So everyone here is competing hard for business – we want to keep our existing clients; we want to attract new clients.”

Agreeing with Waugh and Brick, Willsallen said many customers had followed the advice of their brokers, locking in “cracking” fixed rates.

“As they come off that, they’re naturally going to be looking at the market,” she said. “We just want to make sure that we’re in a really strong competitive position to be able to try to provide for our existing customers and retain them, but also provide options to attract new customers as well.” 

Waugh said, “Consumers are far more educated than they’ve ever been. Eleven years ago, the last time rates went up, social media wasn’t as active; just the broader education across the market wasn’t as active.”

The revert rate was also important, Waugh said, in particular sorting out specific customer base pricing for the revert rate once fixed rates ended.

One of the great frustrations for brokers was when they tried to get a better rate from a bank for a refinance, and it wasn’t forth coming, he added.

“An LOI gets issued, and then the retention team calls the customer and gives the rate that’s far sharper than the rate that the broker wanted in the first place. So how do we work with our pricing teams to ensure that that process for the broker and for the customer is far better and a better outcome? I think that we’re all trying to do that better.”

 Ezzy asked if there were two different teams – a front-end pricing team and a retention pricing team.

Waugh said they were two big teams at NAB that operated differently.

Transparency was key, he said, as was ensuring a better and earlier outcome for the customer that avoided adding extra cost and inefficiency to the loan process and frustration for the broker and client.

He said NAB was also focusing on like-for-like refinances. “Some players in the market have done a really good job on like-for-like refinances – taking the friction out of the process, minimising the amount of paperwork and documents required, and using technology and repayment history and CCR to actually make that process faster. So that’s a big piece of work around that.”

He added that the big banks were in a good position, with mature businesses, strong deposit books, and funding costs “that put us in a reasonably strong position to win refinances”.

From ANZ’s perspective, Brick said, “we have to be very mindful of what the market is asking for, what the market is demanding”.

“We’ve looked at a number of things over the last 12 months to make sure we remain a competitive option for switchers. Product was the first – we simplified our product range, and our three Simpler Home Loans aim to allow our customers to see their options more clearly. 

 “We also removed the Breakfree package from sale, so borrowers can still access great rates and discounts on standard variable loans but only pay for the additional features they want to use. We seek to make our home loans easy to understand, and this is a benefit to brokers as well.”

Brick said the bank had also focused on enabling a simpler switching process for like-for-like-type products to make it easier and faster for those customers to refinance to ANZ.

ANZ’s Simpler Switch is a streamlined OFI refinance process for eligible PAYG customers switching to a similar home loan amount, with the same or lower repayments on an eligible home loan. The process uses comprehensive credit reporting to verify a customer’s ability to repay their existing commitments, with no need for brokers to supply any income documents as part of the application.

“We’re constantly listening to what customers need and exploring opportunities to design our products and processes and policy in that light,” Brick said.

Croucher said that in a competitive environment it was important for CommBank to offer home loans to suit a broad range of customers, “regardless of LVR, regardless of property prices”.

“We want to be the bank for all Australians,” he said. “If we’re not competitive, we don’t get the business. It’s as simple as that.”

With the best interest duty, brokers and customers were looking for the best deal possible, he pointed out. “There’s a lot of great deals out there, which is creating competition and keeping us all on our toes to make sure that we are competitive and we’re within the risk appetites of the organisations that we work for.”

He said non-banks and second-tier lenders were boosting their market share, especially through cashback.

Waugh said NAB was invested in ensuring all Australians had access to buying a home, as shown by its support for the government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

Q: Broker question from Justin Doobov: What is your bank doing to make commission clawbacks more equitable for brokers? Banks make a lot of money from interest, even if the loan is paid out early; however, the broker ends up making a loss, which is not equitable.

Croucher said it was a great question and one that had been raised a lot by the industry, including aggregators, over the last 12 months.

He said there were different clawback models based on the commerciality of the loan, including rebates and commissions.

“I think we’ve got some work to do as an industry to understand and make sure that running the business is profitable,” he added. “It costs the banks a lot of money to process a loan, as well as it does for a broker.”

Doobov said banks needed to look after brokers because they were customers of the banks too – each broker introduced hundreds of loans to banks. He gave the example of a client taking out a loan and then 10 months later the client is enticed by a $4,000 or $6,000 cashback from another lender. The existing lender doesn’t match the rate, and the client refinances with another lender, yet the existing lender has still earned $30,000 interest on a $1m loan, plus other fees. So the bank has still made a profit, at worst case broken even.

“The broker has earned nothing – it has cost the broker $5,000 to process the loan, so the broker has actually gone backwards after clawback,” said Doobov. “It just seems like a non-equitable position that you would allow your business partner [brokers] to actually lose money from a transaction, even though the bank has made money.”

Doobov said the banks’ arguments about margin had been around for many years, yet every year the banks’ profits continued to increase.

Clawbacks had been discussed by the Combined Industry Forum, and the new MFAA CEO [Anja Pannek] would no doubt be keen to discuss the issue with aggregators and lender partners.

He said lenders had increased cashbacks over time to get more business, and they had become “like a drug that the customers are addicted to”.

“Thirty years ago you would go in a suit and tie to the bank and be on your best behaviour to get a loan,” Doobov said. “Now it has been flipped around where the customer dictates to the bank.”

Croucher said it wasn’t as simple as just get ridding of cashbacks. Given increased competition, it was easy for and “extremely attractive” to a customer to get a $4,000 or $6,000 cashback.

Waugh commented that because of the maturity and sophistication of the industry, the government had become comfortable about not performing a remuneration review.

“That remuneration review works across the whole industry, not just for brokers. I think as soon as you trigger one area of remuneration, that is going to trigger a review of the economics across the whole industry,” he said.

“The second point is on the sophistication of pro-rata clawback. There’s operational risk and remediation, challenges for systems, and investment in systems. It’s not as easy as saying, we’re going to get it pro rata – it’s actually just not that easy to operationalise. Clawback is quite standardised.”

Waugh said banks and big organisations consistently had issues around systems and implementation of processes. “It’s not as easy as just flicking a switch and it being pro rata across the industry, because everyone’s got different systems.”

Brick said the discussion was not a simple one; it was in fact quite complex. Both he and Croucher were participants in the Combined Industry Forum, which considered the issue.

He pointed out that the industry needed to be circumspect when it came to any wholesale change to remuneration structure.

The impact of any changes would need to be well understood. “This conversation throws up all sorts of considerations that can’t be resolved unilaterally,” Brick said. “We want a sustainable industry.”

Q: Brokers are now writing 70% of residential home loans. How will you grow and strengthen your third party partnerships?

Willsallen said Westpac was super excited about its recent launch of NextGenID, which was designed to make life easier for brokers and customers through better and faster loan processes.

The bank had invested in the technology, which operated in the background and “you can’t always see it”, she said.

CCR reports had been made available through NextGen as well.

“Today we’re helping cash flow, but actually we want the broker to have a really holistic conversation [with customers],” Willsallen said. “We want them to have everything they need to give us everything that we need so we’re in a position to be able to make a decision on a loan as quickly as possible with as little to and fro as possible.”

She said Westpac had also responded to broker feedback by simplifying its cash-out policy and making credit policy changes in relation to rental income shading policy.

“One of the things I love about brokers is they’re always very quick to tell you what they like about what you’re doing but also what they don’t like and where you’re behind the eight ball,” Willsallen said.

The big change she was excited about in terms of women in homeownership was the expansion of the bank’s medico policy to include allied health professionals such as occupational therapists and psychologists. 

As well as expanding coverage, these were all job families with significant gender disparity – more women were working in these areas, Willsallen said. 

“Part of it for us is about how we get more women access to some of our amazing 90% no-LMI policies.”

At ANZ, Brick said shoring up its value proposition for brokers had been critical over the last 12 months.  The bank had faced some challenges during COVID regarding loan assessment turnaround times, and these had now been improved.

“We’d seen assessment times move beyond what we deem as a suitable time frame,” Brick said. “Over the past 12 months we’ve made several changes at ANZ so that we can continue to provide the fast, reliable and consistent level of service that brokers expect for their customers. We’ve hired hundreds of new FTE and reconfigured some of our assessment processes to reduce the time it takes to assess an application.

“For the last six months or so, we’ve maintained assessment times at around three days for simple applications, and we’ve reduced assessment times for complex [applications].”

ANZ also wanted to continue to ensure pricing parity and credit policy parity with brokers and branch channels.

Brick said the bank also continued to work on assessment quality. “This is a global, cross-industry phenomenon – there is a skills shortage, so finding new assessors with significant experience has been difficult. It’s just the nature of the environment in which we’re operating. However, our recent appointments are now well placed, and we’re working hard to sustain both assessment time and assessment quality.”

ANZ Plus had gained a lot of attention, Brick said. Launched earlier this year, ANZ Plus is a new digital banking service built on a new banking platform.

“It’s an exciting time for the bank,” Brick said. “We’re conscious that brokers form an important part of ANZ’s home loan origination model, and we expect to consult with aggregators and brokers as work continues to expand the functionality available to customers through ANZ Plus.”

Of NAB, Waugh said: “We want to be the bank behind the broker. It’s easy to say that, but actually getting chair, board, CEO and executive endorsement on the third party channel is really important – and we certainly got that through our CEO, Ross McEwan, and through NAB’s executive team.”

 NAB’s largest investment was in its broker origination platform, which continues to drive automation and make the origination process as seamless as possible.

Waugh said the bank had also launched new products, including a tailored home loan featuring LVR-tiered pricing with a simplified fee structure.

“On the channel conflict, I think it goes from an earlier point around executive support and ensuring that a customer makes the choice, not the bank, on which channel they’ll enter into for a home loan,” he said. 

“It’s really important to have channel parity. The customer makes the choice. We treat the customer exactly the same, no matter which channel they choose to transact with the bank.”

Waugh said being consistent and clear with the messaging at NAB was now evident in its NPS scores. “On NAB Broker we’ve gone from plus 10 to plus 46. And on Advantedge we’ve gone from plus 63 to plus 64. So really pleasing results. 

“In terms of consistency and parity, and overall support of the broker channel, it could not be stronger than where we are positioned at the moment,” he said.

Croucher said CommBank had “always made sure that we’ve delivered for brokers on a whole raft of things”. But the support was ramping up in terms of delivery.

COVID had encouraged CommBank to work on enhancements for brokers, including technology, use of CCR, digital docs and electronic customer verification.

“This is all starting to come to fruition now we’ve got through COVID,” Croucher said. 

There was also a focus on CommBank staff. “We’re making sure that we’ve got the tools to be able to give the brokers the best service that we can and upskill them from an education and training component.”

The bank had invested heavily in an easily accessible broker training hub, with some of the content receiving around 7,500 views so far, Croucher said, and “phenomenal feedback, covering topics such as self-employed training, use of pricing tools, application navigation”.

He said CommBank wanted to continue to drive the brokers of tomorrow and use technology to make loan applications as seamless as possible. 

“It’s important to get that feedback from our brokers who get to see a whole raft of lenders. They’re our eyes and ears on how we can do things better.   

“But we can always focus on too many things and execute none. We want to make sure we execute the biggest things that are going to make the biggest difference to our brokers and customers.”

Ezzy said she would like to see more consistency when it came to bank credit assessment teams, whose approach to an application could vary “depending on what side of the bed they woke up on”, and for BDMs to have more sway if they were needed to step in.

“What do you guys do to make sure that they [credit assessors] are all thinking at the same sort of level?” she asked.

Waugh said ensuring assessors had the appropriate skills and experience and consistent training was important. “Consistency across how credit decisioning policy is interpreted is critical to the outcome for the broker.”

At NAB, Waugh said there were credit coaches to assist brokers in workshopping the deal before it went to the credit team. “This is actually really well valued by brokers, because it’s getting to the nitty-gritty and workshopping what’s best for the customer and for the broker.”

There was also a need for investment in automation “to take out the subjectivity”, he said. “It’s a challenge, but we’re absolutely on board with you on that one, and we try and solve it, and try and get consistency as much as we can across the credit decisioning and policy interpretation.”

Croucher said the knowledge of CommBank’s credit teams had been a real strong point, and when new people started it was important to get them up to speed with the help of team managers.

“We want to approve loans, not decline them … we’re on the right trajectory; it’s up around 80% of all loans going through CommBank’s broker channel is one touch,” he said.

“We’ve got 40 credit assessors per cohort of brokers to make sure that that is really seamless and that the person sitting next to them is making the same decision based on its merits as someone else.” 

Q: Broker question from Deanna
Ezzy: Is a net-of-offset review on the horizon for lenders now that BID eliminates overborrowing by the broker?

Ezzy prefaced the question by saying net of offsets and clawbacks made it challenging for brokers to run a small business: “We have to double the amount of loans to earn what we need just to make a profit,” she pointed out.

She said brokers were abiding by BID and doing the best for their clients and introducing them to lenders that fit the legislation. While large equity releases weren’t allowed without justification, the equity being released was generally used to generate more mortgages via investment purchases, providing further benefits to lenders.

Croucher responded by saying that the Combined Industry Forum, involving the MFAA, the FBAA, lenders and aggregators, had “landed on the same point regarding net of offset”.

He said this was to combat regulators’ concerns over the “exceptionally” high volume of LVR lending through the broker channel, as well as utilised funds – which were very high compared to other channels acquiring home loans.  “So the net of offset was designed by the industry as a whole to combat those issues,” Croucher said.

“To Phil’s point earlier around our systems, being able to read and under-stand money going in and going out, I think there’s work for us to do there. But as far as relooking at [net of offset], there’s nothing on our agenda at the moment.”

He said the broker remuneration review had not occurred because of all the things the CIF had put in place to show regulators that “we were able to self-govern this industry”.

Brick agreed and said the industry had demonstrated it had the maturity and insights “to deliver reforms without regulators having to intervene and deliver for the industry”.

“So I would echo the ‘no’ [for a net-of-offset review]. I’d probably urge caution around that space,” he said.

Croucher said if the funds were utilised the broker would always be paid. “It’s just the trigger dates, whether it’s after 14 days or day 365.”

Waugh said his answer on the net-of-offset review would also be no. “But we’ve only recently reviewed it [trigger dates] – we do day six and then recalculate at12 months.”

Q: Technology is changing the way banks do business, especially through the rise of digital banks and open banking. What key changes have you made in technology, and how will they improve loan processes and turnaround times for brokers and their clients?  

Willsallen said NextGenID was a game changer for Westpac, where it had previously been a branch-based ID process. “So we’re super keen to have that investment, and like-wise, in terms of leveraging CCR and open banking, we’re really excited about that and making that available in NextGen.”

The bank had also been investing in safety and security for its customers, through features such as the dynamic CVC on the Westpac app, and Scam block, she added.

Instead of a fixed CVC three-digit number on the back of a credit card, a dynamic CVC was only valid for use on a digital credit card for 24 hours, preventing third-party hackers from stealing that data, Willsallen said. “It [dynamic CVC] is reducing fraud by 80% for those that use it for their online shopping.”

Waugh said NAB was investing in broker origination, moving as much as possible to the cloud but also automating the origination process. “Ross [McEwan] has been quoted talking about unconditional [loan approvals] within an hour. We’d like to see that come through on some applications, and for the broker it’s the same experience.”

Loan details would go into ApplyOnline, and then either through the funnel into the new origination process or through the traditional origination process, but from the broker’s input it was just the same, Waugh explained.

“Settlements are also a really big pain point across the industry,” he said. “Pleasingly, Peter Birch, who’s had a lot of experience across the industry, leads that team, and we’ve been number one for PEXA signed on-time for every month for 12 months running.

“That’s really important, particularly as we go into a refinance market, ensuring the customer and broker experiences are as seam-less as possible.”

Brick said ANZ was investing in digital tech tools, particularly for brokers, delivering features such as ANZ Broker Chat this year.

The real-time ‘live chat’ function is avail-able through the ANZ Broker Portal for brokers to obtain an expected credit response date quickly and easily on an application, to raise escalations on eligible applications in the assessment queue, or to organise a call-back from an assessor.

“Brokers had a strong voice in helping design new technology, aligning investment and management,” Brick said. “We’re consulting with aggregators to make sure we get the right design.”

Croucher said getting feedback from brokers was really important in the new systems CommBank was building. “Some of our technology advancements that will come out in the next two or three months have really been fed off the back of that feedback.”

This included the application process, “whether it be digital ID, less verification, use of CCR and optical character recognition”.

Croucher said gaining access to Approval Confidence was high on the agenda of all aggregators.

For CommBank, he added, “integration is extremely important … to put the broker in the driver’s seat to have the information that they need to keep their customers engaged”.