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ING reveals plans for 'key' broker channel

by Reporter5 minute read

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The challenger bank has laid out its thoughts and plans for the broker channel at its ING broker roadshow.

Speaking at the roadshow event at Bicentennial Park in Sydney on Friday (25 August), CEO Uday Sareen thanked brokers for their support over the year.

Noting that 85 per cent of business is originated through "valued broker partners", the CEO said that the channel was "critical and significant" for the bank's growth.

In a panel session held later in the day, brokers were given the opportunity to ask questions to several heads of department.

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One question asked by the floor touched on the lack of web tracking for loan applications via the new digital platform.

Acknowledging the frustration this has caused brokers, head of distribution Mark Woolnough apologised.

'We've let you down'

Mr Woolnough said: "In order to bring to market the new platform that we were confident would drive scale and speed, and add to the customer experience, we turned off the web tracking. Now the reason for that is because it was established to talk to the old platform, so in order to connect to the new platform, it was going to be quite time-consuming and clunky. So, we thought we’d go with the new system and start to realise those benefits and eventually bring in the web tracking.

"[But] once we introduced the new system, we had a few hiccups and challenges that we had to work on, and I feel bad for you guys because we've let you down.

"Unfortunately, the fall back then is there is no information on your clients, you have no idea where the loan is up to and then you’re forced to ring the sales floor, and — as good a job as those guys do — at times have been waiting up to an hour. It's back on the road map, back on the discussions to build this year into next year, so there is certainly an opportunity to fix that."

He added: "So, I apologise. I apologise that the tracking is not there and also for the wait times that, despite our endeavours, haven’t been up to it."

However, Mr Woolnough noted that, in some occasions, the delays on the phones have been caused by incomplete applications. In fact, he revealed that 74 per cent of broker applications in the last month had a problem, including missing financial information or no verification of identity.

"There is also the quality component ensuing that the right information is included at submission," he said. "We have some brokers who file an application because of the backlog and then think they can call us when they have the rest just because they want to be in the queue. It’s frustrating for us. So we aim to try and stop that from happening."

Mr Woolnough was also asked about the bank's recent $1,000 refinance offer for customers, which many brokers have voiced frustration with.

Again, Mr Woolnough acknowledged the pain this had caused.

He said: "We're mindful of the fact that the way society is today, a lot of customers, once they have spoken to the broker, will generally and naturally go online themselves and enquire, whether that is just to double check or to ensure they are comfortable with the information that they have been given. We're aware that that [$1,000 offer] does pop up in their face.

"Now, that unfortunately puts you in an uncomfortable predicament because the client then comes back to you and says: 'Hang on a minute, we spoke about ING DIRECT and that all stacks up, but you didn't mention the $1,000.' And we never wanted to put you or your customer in that predicament where they could potentially question your honesty and integrity by not telling them.

"So, will we make it available to brokers? As it currently stands? No. But do we need to look at the way it is currently operated at the moment? Yes."

Mr Woolnough continued: "Brokers represent about 55 per cent of the market, which is absolutely fantastic. But there is 45 per cent of the market where there is an opportunity for ING Direct. Within that market is phone and online, so we have a strong brand and we have a digital heritage and we have a good experience of direct when they apply online ... [but] the direct to lender [customer] that is prepared to do the work themselves and take the time is generally look for a price or some sort of reward.

"These customers have to apply online. They have to upload the relevant documentation and track their own loan, etc. For us, it's also an offer for an existing client.... So, the $1,000 for the customer is also sharing value. There is nothing wrong with a bank deciding to share some value back to the consumer, [in the same way as] we share value back to you guys through commission."

[Related: Woolnough lands new role at ING]

 

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