BOQ aims to speed up loans

Enhancements to improve processes

BOQ aims to speed up loans

Bank of Queensland has developed a series of enhancements in its ongoing bid to reduce loan turnaround times for brokers and their clients.

Changes within the valuations area and improved processes such as a simplified policy for self-employed borrowers, single file ownership for applications and reduced LMI premiums for low equity borrowers, aim to make the bank easier to do business with.

BOQ general manager broker Kathy Cummings (pictured above) said the bank’s aim was to reduce “friction points” encountered by brokers during the lodgement and approval process, shortening the time to loan approval.

“We understand that the broker is a small business person and their brand is absolutely critical for them, so we do everything we can to work with them and protect their brand and their customer,” Cummings said.

BOQ now accepts signed sale and purchase agreements (contracts of sale), in place of a formal valuation for under 80% LVR loans, she said. 

The bank has also simplified its criteria around validation of non-base income (e.g. additional income, such as overtime), in line with the market.

Read more: Electronic lodgements arrive at BOQ

Additionally, a simplified policy for self-employed borrowers reduces the amount of information required by the bank. Where a small business owner is paid by their business, providing they’d had an ABN for three years, Cummings confirmed a full set of financials was not required.

“They’ve only got to show three months’ worth of salary credits going into their account – that’s very attractive for people in small business who pay themselves a salary,” Cummings said. 

Single file ownership of application is yet another enhancement delivered by BOQ, providing brokers with a single point of contact.

“One person manages that application as it goes through the process, so it’s much better for communication back and forward with the broker,” Cummings said.

BOQ assessors and credit managers are encouraged to maintain regular phone contact with brokers.

“We ask them to call brokers, if they’ve got any questions at all on a file, so we’ve got a single point of resolution,” Cummings said.

The bank has added emails for missing information in addition to its back channel messaging, enabling brokers to pull the information from the BOQ portal, so they can action the request much faster.

Through its partnership with LMI provider Genworth, BOQ is also able to provide lower LMI premiums. Cummings said this resulted in savings for first home buyers, and other lower equity borrowers with deposits of less than 20% (over 80% LVR).

“In the $600,000 to $800,000 category, for a $600,000 loan, it’s pretty typical to receive about $3,000 worth of savings,” Cummings said.

Through the BOQ broker portal, brokers can obtain retention pricing for clients, supporting them with their ongoing servicing and client retention strategies.

“We email brokers on all fixed rate loans six weeks before the customer’s loan matures, so it allows the broker time to contact their customer, they can do a pricing request and get a price to retain it,” Cummings said.

If required, brokers can choose to escalate the request, in an aim to improve the pricing further, she said.

Under BOQ’s business model, relationship service assistants support field relationship managers, meaning there’s someone monitoring email inboxes to support fast turnaround and response.

“That enables BDMs to be in the field, while their files are still being worked on and responses are still going through,” Cummings said.

Read more: Kathy Cummings: breathing life into broking

Through BOQ’s lending capability senior manager (Phil Chant), the bank provides broker education through webinars, providing an opportunity for scenarios to be modelled by the bank, including those involving companies in trusts.

The bank’s long term goal is to deliver unconditional approvals within four days – and the enhancements bring the bank one step closer towards this goal.

Cummings said brokers could play their part by ensuring all information was provided upfront, ensuring they completed BOQ’s loan checklist. Although it may be tempting to put a deal in while waiting for final information, Cummings said this ultimately slowed the approval process down.

She suggested brokers put all information in the first time and get the checklist ticked off.  This would allow the loan to proceed much faster through the approval process.

“We can then pick them up and do a ‘time to yes’ (conditional approval) in two days and we can get that unconditional out in four days,” Cummings said.

Asked about BOQ’s key point of difference, Cummings said this was centred around its business model.  The group’s purpose is to “build social capital through banking”, Cummings said.

“We have a strong relationship partnership with all the major aggregators – we’re heavily invested in their development and their education,” Cummings said.

Referring to the BOQ brand as a “relationship empathetic brand”, she said the bank was focused on developing strong relationships in the market, including with its brokers.

“This means our people know they can be contacted at any time and generally, they will respond generally within an hour or two, to their requests,” Cummings said.

Running separately to the recent and ongoing enhancements, a separate BOQ home loan origination project is focusing on the digitalisation of processes and systems across all of the bank’s brands.

The project is moving ahead and will ultimately mean the home loan origination system across all of the bank’s brands will be based in the cloud.

A leading regional bank in Australia, BOQ has more than 160 branches across Australia, and aims to be the “regional bank of choice”.

BOQ brands include retail financial services company Virgin Money Australia, BOQ Finance, BOQ Specialist, St Andrew’s Insurance and ME Bank, acquired by BOQ in July 2021.