Following NAB’s announcement that it would cease paying introducers from October this year, The Adviser asked the remaining big four banks what their stance was on introducer programs.
On Monday (25 March), National Australia Bank (NAB) announced that it will end its introducer payments program from 1 October 2019 and will no longer make referral payments to introducers from this date.
NAB’s introducer program, which came under scrutiny during the royal commission hearings but has been under revision for the past few years, currently only allows certain businesses and professions such as financial planners, accountants, property developers, solicitors and architects to become referrers.
However, it had previously seen introducers cover a range of industries, with gym owners and tailors also having been introducers.
The major bank last year revealed that it had drastically cut the number of introducers it was working with, but will also move to cease payments to referrers later this year.
“Like other businesses, we will still welcome referrals and will continue to build strong relationships with business and community partners. However, there will be no ‘introducer’ payments made,” NAB CEO Philip Chronican said.
“I understand the significance of these changes for our people and our industry, yet I am certain it’s the right thing to do. NAB has a significant role to play in leading the change our customers and the community want to see.”
Given the change in stance by the big four bank, The Adviser asked the remaining three major banks whether they still pay introducers for mortgage leads, what their payment structure is, whether they will continue to pay introducers and why that position had been taken.
None of the banks provided The Adviser with confirmation on whether they would continue to pay introducers nor why they had taken that decision, but several did provide further information on their programs.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) confirmed that it pays introducers a commission, but did not reveal further details of this payment structure.
A spokesperson told The Adviser: “ANZ has an introducer program that is limited to select groups, including fundraisers, sporting clubs, accountants and lawyers.
“In response to the Sedgwick Review recommendations, we have analysed our commission structure and governance framework for this program, and we are now updating them.”
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) also confirmed that it still has an introducer program for business professional referrers (as referred to in the recent Standing Committee on Economics' review of the four major banks), but that these partners are subject to several processes in order to be accredited.
It is believed that these processes include background checks and ongoing compliance checks.
A CBA spokesperson told The Adviser: “Commonwealth Bank has a small Home Loan Referral Source Program.
“All referral partners undergo a thorough accreditation and selection process and must be fully accredited prior to providing the bank with any referrals.”
Westpac’s introducer program is also reportedly managed under a control framework, which requires referrers to come from specific industries and professions, pass due diligence checks and be accredited by Westpac before they can make referrals to the bank.
The contracts these introducers hold with the bank require them to discharge particular duties and obligations. For example, introducers are obliged to not withhold any important information about the customer to the bank if they are aware of any circumstances, which have not been disclosed, that could reasonably be expected to cause a prudent lender not to make a loan, a breach of which may result in termination.
This contract also requires the introducer to disclose to any potential customer that they are acting as an introducer to Westpac and receiving a commission.
Westpac did not provide The Adviser with an official comment.
The heads of NAB and ANZ will both front the House of Representatives’ standing committee on economics’ review of Australia’s four major banks on Wednesday (27 March).
During the hearings involving CBA and Westpac earlier this month, the question of introducers and the need for these programs was raised – as they were in the previous review.
It is expected that the banks’ relationships with introducers and how payments are structured will be discussed during the committee hearings on Wednesday.
[Related: Major bank to end introducer payments]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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