A leading industry figure has said that the most recent advert from fintech mortgage platform uno., which intimates that brokers are secretive, is “inappropriate and unnecessary”.
The latest advert from uno., which won the backing of Westpac in September, suggests that consumers wouldn’t buy a house without seeing all the rooms, and likewise, they shouldn’t take out a home loan without seeing all the rates on offer.
It states: “At uno home loans, we’ll show you rates you may not be seeing”.
According to Peter White from the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA), the advert is “inappropriate” as it suggests that brokers are secretive, or hiding something when talking about home loans.
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr White said: “I want to strongly express my position on this, as they are questioning brokers’ morality. But it is legislation that is relative on this and not brokers being secretive at all.
“A broker cannot disclose [to clients] the full spectrum of home loan rates, as it's controlled by legislation. A broker can only disclose what is available to them on their panel, as far as giving any guidance for credit assistance.”
He added: “I'm quite taken back that they've taken this approach … I just don't think this sort of style of publicity is appropriate, nor is it right.
"This kind of sensationalism which falsifies fact is completely unacceptable and unwarranted … In my mind, it is inappropriate and unnecessary.”
Mr White said that although he thinks uno. is “doing a good job” generally, he suggested that giving customers “the full spectrum of interest rates doesn't necessarily mean a beneficial or appropriate outcome for the borrower”.
He said: “The bottom line is that [giving customers access to many home loan rates] is bamboozling, there is too much in the market. One of the challenges I've seen from people and businesses that run search engine functions, [is that] interest rates are not categorised in what is a suitable outcome for the borrower, they're based on cheapest rate first.
“That doesn’t necessarily give the right outcome for a borrower. And quite often it could be quite the opposite, because there is no analysis being done for the needs of that borrower at that point.”
‘Perennial concern they're not seeing all the options’
However, Vincent Turner, the founder and CEO of uno. has said that the advert doesn't intend to criticise brokers.
Speaking to The Adviser, Mr Turner said: “We're sort of dancing around the line of it but we're not specifically trying to say: ‘Hey your broker is not showing you the options’. It's more saying: ‘We know you feel like you're not seeing all the options’, and that's what the ad is trying to show.”
Mr Turner explained: “We ran qualitative research about what's the most important thing for people and continually found that people are saying I just want to get the best deal. That’s somewhat nebulous because what’s the best deal for one person may not be the best deal for someone else. [But] people just wanted to ensure that they were seeing all the options ...
“People are going to tons of different places, they’re going to comparison sights and not just one, they’re going to multiple. They’re going and talking to one broker or more than one broker, they’re talking to multiple different banks. So they’re getting their information from a lot of sources and even though they do that, they still don't feel like they're getting all the options or they’re getting the best deal, there’s still the perennial concern that they’re not seeing all the options.”
The uno. founder said that the advert and the platform intend to boost “transparency”.
“We think that when markets tend to move towards transparency — and this is not just mortgages, it's any kind of markets, where you have price transparency and discovery and you put the information in the hands of the consumer — then markets tend to operate more efficiently.
“So, our strategy has always been to build technology … to get someone a mortgage from any of the banks we deal with (much like a broker but in a digital fashion), but also to give those tools to the consumer directly, so they see what we see.”
He concluded that the advert was targeting customers with a “digital preference”.
“Everything else they’re doing is digital, they don’t really want to go and see someone, and they don’t really want someone to come to their home,” he said.
“They’re starting to experience a digital service proposition in a lot of other things that they deal with, and once they’ve used mobile banking [and Uber] and done all these other things digitally, they start to think ‘Well why would my mortgage be any different?’
“The difference between a traditional broker and uno. is that the traditional broker is like ‘give me a call’ and we’re like ‘don’t give us a call’.”
The FBAA’s Mr White concluded: “I don't 100 per cent disagree what he's saying, but the way this is being expressed [in the advert] is unnecessary and inappropriate and doesn’t deal with the realities of how industry regulation and how brokers actually work.”
[Related: Big four bank invests $16.5m in fintech]
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