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Poor bank service levels continue to hurt broker channel

Staff Reporter 3 minute read

A blowout in the big banks’ servicing times is continuing to hinder brokers’ ability to operate effectively.

Prior to Christmas brokers were facing turnaround times that exceeded three weeks in some instaces as a major swing in volumes to the banks left many struggling to meet capacity.

Two months down the track some of the banks’ servicing levels have improved but brokers remain frustrated that many continue to run at unacceptable time frames.

Zoran Malesevic, a broker with Harzed Finance in Sydney, said the big banks’ inefficiencies were putting pressure on his ability to deliver his key customer proposition – service.

“There are three selling points for home loans – product, price and service – and as a broker service is our only point of differentiation.”

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Mr Malesevic said poor processing times were damaging to establishing a new customer relationship.

Westpac and ANZ were two banks singled out by brokers for exceptionally long turnaround times however both banks have told Mortgage Business that servicing levels were improving.

“We have seen a steady improvement in service levels since December and improving the experience for customers and brokers remains a key focus for our business,” an ANZ spokesperson said.

A Westpac spokesperson said processing service levels have also improved: “We’ve taken action to increase staffing levels at our processing unit in order to further improve our service levels following an increase in application volumes late last year.”

Staffing levels indeed appear to be a key reason behind the sluggish service times and are a bone of contention among brokers.

“Banks are cutting staff, but what they really need to do is train more staff,” said Flexiloan’s Bernie Rose.

Corey Drew, Mortgage Force state manager WA and SA, said one of the key problems was the centralisation of bank servicing centres – which made it difficult to access staff and offered considerable delays.

He commended CBA on its decision to maintain local processing services.

“The Commonwealth Bank has offered the best servicing levels of the big four and this is largely because of their local credit assessors, which are much more effective than the centralised centres.”

How the major banks will manage the expected upswing in borrowing activity in coming months remains to be seen however.

CBA head of third party banking Kathy Cummings told Mortgage Business improved quality of applications would keep the process timely.

“We have already experienced an unprecedented volume of applications in January.

“We are closely monitoring these numbers and we are working in partnership with our brokers and their head groups to improve the quality of applications by conducting ‘Quality Pays’ and conversion education workshops; the more ‘error free’ applications, the quicker the process times,” Ms Cummings said.

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Poor bank service levels continue to hurt broker channel
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