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Banking study submissions highlight adviser issues

Mortgage completion rates are being used as a tool by banks to monitor the loyalty, effectiveness and servicing need for their adviser channel.

Thursday, September 21st 2023, 5:51PM 3 Comments

by Sally Lindsay

This has been highlighted in a submission to the Commerce Commission’s market study into banking competitiveness by financial technology platform AERA, the bank alternative for first home buyers.

AERA says simply the tool is a bank’s measure of how many applications are settled versus the number of applications received.

“We are concerned this particular measure encourages mortgage advisors to only apply for a mortgage at one (or maybe two) banks which may be to the detriment of the customer. Anecdotally, mortgage advisers are actively encouraged to maintain a certain closure rate with a lender, and non-performance of this metric could place their lender facility at risk.”

AERA says it feels this is contrary to the customers’ view of a mortgage adviser’s ability to “shop around for the best deal” amongst all of the lenders in market. “It is also a metric that may result in multiple poor customer outcomes where Mortgage Advisors are actively discouraged from requesting competitive tenders for their customers,” the submission says.

The company says it is lucky to work with experienced, customer centric mortgage advisers who have the knowledge of each lender’s appetite and approval process. “Having a strong adviser community who can navigate this is an important way to creating better customer lending outcomes in the face of the current closed home lending process.”

Consumer NZ in its submission says in an ideal world, mortgage advisers should put competitive pressure on banks and other lenders, leading to better deals for consumers. However, it has not seen any strong evidence that using a mortgage adviser will ensure consumers get a better rate on their mortgage. The consumer organisation says it wants to see further analysis of this.

Incentives distort picture

While mortgage advisers have been described by Heartland Bank as an important part of the home loan industry, bank-to-adviser mortgage incentive structures possibly distort that picture in favour of larger banks who have the scale to cover the initial cash outlay that is required when paying adviser fees.

“Some banks offer a cashback (with an associated clawback period) to attract and retain customers. These cashbacks can have a similar distorting impact to mortgage adviser incentives due to also requiring an initial cash outlay which favours larger banks who have the scale to cover this outlay,” Heartland’s submission says.

In addition, the bank says cashbacks can also make it more difficult for customers to compare home loan offers between providers on a ‘like-for-like’ basis and the associated clawback period can also disincentivise customers to switch providers.

Regulatory regime stifling

On the regulatory front, the CCCFA has been defined by Heartland as being so complex and uncertain that lenders are forced to adopt conservative business approaches to ensure compliance; stifling innovation and dynamism in important banking product markets. 

The Financial Services Federation (FSF) goes a step further and says if it was to single out one piece of legislation or regulation that has done more to stifle innovation and competition than any other, it would have to be the December 2021 changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2023 (CCCFA).

Its submission says the highly prescriptive process these changes introduced to the way in which lenders are expected to assess the suitability of their loan products and their affordability, coupled with the extremely punitive personal liability on lenders’ senior managers and directors means all lenders have to apply a “one size fits all” approach to their credit process which leaves no room for lender discretion or judgment.

“This has resulted in severely limiting access to credit for consumers from responsible lending providers if a customer, who they might previously have been able to assist using their experience and judgement, does not tick all the required boxes,” the FSF says.

“The problem here is that the customer’s need hasn’t gone away just because a lender has declined their loan and that leads to desperate people seeking the lender of last resort to meet that need which may lead them to a provider for whom compliance is not so important.”

It has also led to lenders quitting the consumer lending market altogether to focus on less heavily regulated business lending which is certainly not helpful to promoting a competitive market.

A further unintended consequence of the overly prescriptive CCCFA regime, the FSF says, is it has created a significant barrier for consumers to be able to change providers in order to obtain a better deal. It has effectively created “mortgage prisoners” where the granular and intrusive assessment of all household expenses rather than just the individual’s fixed outgoings renders their loan “unaffordable” to a new provider (even though they may be meeting higher existing commitments with their current lender) and reduces their ability to switch to obtain a better deal.

Westpac says in it submission it supports the recently announced review of the CCCFA. It considers a return to a principles-based regime and removal of prescriptive requirements would lead to better customer outcomes including easier access to credit from banks for a wider range of customers. This may also facilitate the introduction of more innovative products and services.

Challenging process

Monopoly Watch, a public policy group that studies research and comments on competition issues in capital intensive utility and commodity industries, says the CCCFA changes have required banks to collect more information and this has become an even more challenging process for borrowers.

“The process is typically easier if the borrower is applying to their existing transactional bank because that bank will already hold most of the information required,” its submission says. 

However, it says advisers create competition. “Yes, they cost money but traditionally they have helped ignite lower rates and enable new players. Going forward broker fees may be used as discounted rates and similar to travel agents (brokers) get disintermediated by apps, so with new digital banks the brokers may be removed and may be replaced by lower prices for self-service , like easyJet. Advisers should be encouraged, once new operators are introduced to the market.”

Praise for advisers
Kiwibank says mortgage advisers have positive impacts on competition through significant knowledge about what different lenders can offer, including how product offerings, credit criteria, and service levels differ; they develop a broad understanding of what does and does not work for borrowers and can provide lenders with feedback to help them improve their offerings. This helps lenders to keep their offerings competitive; and, they can help borrowers to negotiate home lending terms, including rates, where customers might not otherwise have the knowledge or the confidence to do so.

The bank’s submission says there may be a perception that mortgage advisers are inclined to encourage borrowers to select their existing transactional bank because a mortgage adviser typically includes their existing bank. “However, it makes sense for a borrower to consider their existing bank (usually alongside at least one other) because the CCCFA regulatory framework makes applying to another bank more challenging.

“For example, when making a home loan application, borrowers are required to submit information about their income and expenses so that banks can carry out suitability and affordability assessments. Recent changes to the CCCFA have required banks to collect more information and this has become an even more challenging process for borrowers. The process is typically easier if the borrower is applying to their existing transactional bank because that bank will already hold most of the information required,” Kiwibank says.

The Commerce Commission will now publish its draft report in March next year setting out its preliminary findings about competition for personal banking services. Its final report Is due by August 20.

Tags: banks

« Help to borrowers in financial difficulty outlinedAffordability not always a level playing field »

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Comments from our readers

On 25 September 2023 at 4:04 pm JPHale said:
Somewhat out of my lane here, but I have seen enough as a BDM and with those I work with to know that an adviser doesn't waste everyone's time shopping an application to every provider. Especially their own time.

Just like a risk adviser, a mortgage adviser looks at the clients situation and matches that to the best provider, and goes from there.

The knowledge and experience of the mortgage adviser is why you go to one.

If they can't make it simple and effective with the best deal straight up, why are you using one?

The idea that mortgage advisers apply pressure on lenders to be more competitive is absurd.

Sure there's going to be push back on the question from banks about where are the deals and why aren't completion rates higher?

It's up to the bank to be competitive for the market and they have been pushed hard by RBNZ and law changes to be less competitive.

A good mortgage adviser, like any good adviser in any discipline is going to look at the merits of the clients situation and then work with the best products and providers from there.

Anyone suggesting mortgage advisers should be shopping everydeal doesn't understand how the market works.

A mortgage broker shopping deals is frowned upon by all of the providers, as it just adds work for all of them when they're all pretty poor on service already.

And yes, that was specific, we want mortgage advisers operating efficient and effective businesses, not being a broker bogging everyone down with unnecessary work.

Every deal that goes to the big four for assessment is 75% of the work done wasted effort that just adds to cost and expense of the bank operation, which results in more fees and costs.

From the perspective of the BDM’s, if its a deal that fits, give us a shot, if it's a deal that doesn't, don't bother. It really is that simple most of the time for all disciplines
On 26 September 2023 at 1:06 pm valkyrie6 said:
Yes, as a mortgage adviser of over 20 years now the CCCFA has only helped the second-tier lending market grow out of its skin.
These second-hand mortgage lenders are writing deals that prior to the CCCFA would have been mainstream bank deals every day of the week.
Now because of the CCCFA these marginal customers that may or may not have very small blemishes or even a one-off account blemish is forced to go to second tier lenders at increased interest rates and fees and in a lot of cases they can’t get back to a mainstream bank and are now suffering on the highest rates possible.
What the commerce commission should be investigating are the Mortgage dealer groups that promote their advisers to take customers to second tier lenders because they get paid a higher commission and with one dealer group, they themselves receive a slice of the commission which is not disclosed to the customer.
I have seen cases of this where the dealer group branded adviser sent the customers straight to a second tier lending without even negotiating with their main stream bank who in my experience would have done the deal .
Mortgage advisers are also hampered by claw backs on their commissions and in most cases up to 27 months they can receive a claw back if the loan is repaid.
This is nuts really and could be deterring some advisers from helping their customers shop around within this period of claw back time.
A lot of the time the adviser has their commission clawed back by the bank for reasons that are completely out of their control like when customers just decide to sell for whatever reason which is no fault of the adviser.
Some advisers try and charge the customer directly for their claw back but this is very negative for the industry and in my opinion advisers should not be doing this as we as an industry are 99% a free service.
90% of mortgage advisers’ complaints are all related to advisers charging customers for their bank commission claw backs.
On 26 September 2023 at 1:10 pm Andy the adviser said:
JP - you beat me to it. You are exactly right - the shotgun approach (and hoping something will stick) is wasting everyone's time.

A good adviser goes to the most suitable provider (bank) first. And the adviser should know whether the deal works or not. That is what all the qualifications and experience are for, isn't it?

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Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA - Back My Build 6.19 - - -
AIA - Go Home Loans 8.74 7.14 6.75 6.39
ANZ 8.64 7.74 7.39 7.25
ANZ Blueprint to Build 7.39 - - -
ANZ Good Energy - - - 1.00
ANZ Special - 7.14 6.79 6.65
ASB Bank 8.64 7.14 6.75 6.39
ASB Better Homes Top Up - - - 1.00
Avanti Finance 9.15 - - -
Basecorp Finance 9.60 - - -
Bluestone 9.24 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
BNZ - Classic - 7.14 6.79 6.65
BNZ - Green Home Loan top-ups - - - 1.00
BNZ - Mortgage One 8.69 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 8.69 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 8.69 7.74 7.39 7.25
BNZ - TotalMoney 8.69 - - -
CFML Loans 9.45 - - -
China Construction Bank - 7.09 6.75 6.49
China Construction Bank Special - - - -
Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - 6.79 - -
Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 8.40 6.99 6.79 6.65
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Co-operative Bank - Standard 8.40 7.49 7.29 7.15
Credit Union Auckland 7.70 - - -
First Credit Union Special - 7.45 7.35 -
First Credit Union Standard 8.50 7.99 7.85 -
Heartland Bank - Online 7.99 6.89 6.55 6.35
Heartland Bank - Reverse Mortgage - - - -
Heretaunga Building Society 8.90 7.60 7.40 -
HSBC Premier 8.59 - - -
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 7.85 7.05 6.69 6.59
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Kainga Ora 8.64 7.74 7.35 6.99
Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - - - -
Kiwibank 8.50 7.99 7.79 7.55
Kiwibank - Offset 8.50 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 6.99 6.79 6.65
Liberty 8.59 8.69 8.79 8.94
Nelson Building Society 9.00 7.65 7.25 -
Pepper Money Advantage 10.49 - - -
Pepper Money Easy 8.69 - - -
Pepper Money Essential 8.29 - - -
Resimac - LVR < 80% 8.84 8.09 7.59 7.29
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Resimac - LVR < 90% 9.84 9.09 8.59 8.29
Resimac - Specialist Clear (Alt Doc) - - 8.99 -
Resimac - Specialist Clear (Full Doc) - - 9.49 -
SBS Bank 8.74 7.74 7.09 6.95
SBS Bank Special - 7.14 6.49 6.35
SBS Construction lending for FHB - - - -
SBS FirstHome Combo 6.19 6.14 - -
SBS FirstHome Combo - - - -
SBS Unwind reverse equity 9.95 - - -
Select Home Loans 9.24 - - -
TSB Bank 9.44 7.79 7.55 7.45
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
TSB Special 8.64 6.99 6.75 6.65
Unity 8.64 6.99 6.79 -
Unity First Home Buyer special - 6.55 6.45 -
Wairarapa Building Society 8.60 6.95 6.85 -
Westpac 8.64 7.84 7.35 6.99
Westpac Choices Everyday 8.74 - - -
Westpac Offset 8.64 - - -
Westpac Special - 7.24 6.75 6.39
Median 8.64 7.19 7.17 6.65

Last updated: 20 June 2024 10:39am

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