Unlocking opportunities

Promoted by FBAA7 minute read

Stellar customer service is paramount to success for any mortgage broker and their business, but just how satisfied are borrowers with their mortgage journey? To find out, the FBAA partnered with Agile Market Intelligence to conduct a major borrower survey: the Consumer Access to Mortgages Report 2023.
Here we review the findings of what consumers think

Trust is the lifeblood of any successful business. For retailers, it’s trust in the quality and value of the products on offer, but for brokers, trust is based on the quality and value of the service. Borrowers rely on brokers not only to complete a transaction, but to guide and steer them through a complex landscape. In this environment, where uncertainty is currently looming large and change is happening at breakneck speed, trust becomes currency.

And, since mortgage brokers are bound by their obligations to operate within the best interests of the client, trust forms a core function of their business.

As such, understanding what borrowers think of brokers – and the level of trust they have in the industry – is critical.

To ascertain what borrowers think of brokers (and the mortgage experience as a whole), independent research firm Agile Market Intelligence undertook a major survey of borrowers in partnership with the Finance Brokers Association of Australasia (FBAA).

Conducted between 13 and 27 September 2023, the survey resulted in 1,263 responses (776 mortgage holders and 487 non-mortgage holders), which were analysed for the fifth annual Consumer Access to Mortgages Report 2023.

As high interest rates, inflation, and cost-of-living pressures continue to put strain on the back pockets of Australians, the report took a deep dive into three key areas: the overall mortgage lending experience, channel preference, and cost-of-living impacts.

According to the report, the majority of borrowers (66 per cent) who took out a mortgage over the last 12 months indicated that they had applied for a mortgage through a broker, with the remaining one-third (34 per cent) turning to the proprietary distribution channel of lenders (most of which applied directly online with their chosen lender).

Only 9 per cent of those who took out a mortgage in this time applied directly at a bank branch, which reflected the ongoing trend of branch closures, according to the report.

How much do consumers trust brokers?

The report found that 86 per cent of respondents said that they trust their mortgage broker, which included 44 per cent who indicated “complete trust”.

This figure was contrasted by 73 per cent of consumers that dealt directly with lenders who said they hold trust in their lending representative, while only 27 per cent had complete trust.

Moreover, the report found that 83 per cent of mortgage broker clients said they would continue to return to brokers for assistance for their next mortgage application, which reflects the notion that long-term, repeat business is chained to consumer trust.

Noting the figures, FBAA managing director Peter White AM stated that while these figures “may not come as a surprise”, the research also shed light on some risks and opportunities for brokers.

“We all know that clients trust brokers because we provide a level of service they will never get from a lender and we act in their best interests,” he said.

“But the research also shows that there are a significant percentage of borrowers who will consider changing, and this goes both ways.”

The research highlighted a chance for brokers to increase their market share, as 26 per cent of borrowers who applied directly through a lender said they are more likely to go through the third-party channel for their next mortgage.

However, 17 per cent of borrowers who said they would go directly to their lender for their next mortgage after securing their first home loan with a broker present a risk for the industry.

“We can never take our market and clients for granted and we should not accept the loss of one in every six clients,” Mr White said. “I believe we can do better, and I encourage every broker to keep improving across every area.”

FHBs an opportunity for brokers

Another area of opportunity for new business is future first home buyers. But, according to the survey, just four in 10 future home buyers (44 per cent) are likely to go with a mortgage broker for their first home loan and just a third (33 per cent) indicated they had spoken directly with a mortgage broker once they began the process.

The majority of future FHBs, 56 per cent, indicated that they would go through the proprietary channel instead.

Around a third (32 per cent) of future first-time borrowers said they were likely to apply directly with their personal primary bank either in a branch or online, reflecting the ongoing strength of the relationship between a primary bank and their consumers.

Young adults and those over the age of 50 were also found to be more likely to go direct than use a broker. Those over the age of 60 were the most likely to use the proprietary channel – at 70 per cent – followed by 55 per cent of those aged between 50 and 59 and 53 per cent of 18–29-year-olds.

Conversely, Millennials were the cohort most likely to use a broker; 56 per cent of respondents aged 30–39 said they would go to a mortgage broker, followed by 49 per cent of those aged 40–49.

When the survey asked respondents why they would choose their channel of choice, both cited ease and convenience, with 72 per cent citing this as the reason behind choosing a broker, with 66 per cent stating it was the reason for using the direct channel.

Reacting to these findings, Mr White said the industry must explore ways to engage with the new generation of home buyers.

“This presents a challenge and a huge opportunity for brokers, and we must look for ways to reach and educate first-time borrowers,” he said.

“Their bank has no obligation to act in their best interests and will simply attempt to sell them a product. This will be a terrible outcome for many first-time borrowers.

“We must all work harder to find and educate this market. It’s not just about us, but about the best interests of borrowers.”

The FBAA added that the 32 per cent of future first-time borrowers applying directly with their personal primary bank was a “concerning figure”.

Mr White stated that the industry “must act quickly” to remedy these trends, particularly as more than one in 10 consumers said they would need to access their first mortgage for a home or investment in the next two years.

How are borrowers faring?

While borrowers are perceived to be coping with the slew of interest rate rises enacted by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the research has indicated that borrowers are still suffering from “mortgage stress”.

Four in 10 respondents (41 per cent) said they have seen their financial situation deteriorate over the last 12 months, with 10 per cent believing it is “significantly worse”. This was particularly evident for low-income households with rates and for those renting or owning a home with a mortgage.

The main drivers behind this stress were attributed to an increase in the cost of necessities (79 per cent), followed by rising cost of utilities (72 per cent), and increasing interest payments (40 per cent).

However, this has presented an opportune moment for brokers to further help clients, as the report found that refinancing climbed from an average of 14 per cent to 20 per cent over the past 12 months while owner-occupier mortgages, which had averaged 47 per cent, dropped to 41 per cent.

Mr White concluded: “This means that many people are in the market, whether it be to refinance or invest, and brokers have an opportunity for not only increased business but to assist many borrowers in ways that suit their best interests.”

He added that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution and that “every day, finance brokers are helping each person create a path forward that is in their best interests according to their individual circumstances.


Providing the best service to Australian borrowers is the focus of the FBAA, which is why research like the Consumer Access to Mortgages Report 2023 is important. It confirmed that brokers are trusted by their customers and that this trust leads to customer loyalty.

However, it also identified an important area of growth opportunity, finding that only a minority of first-time borrowers are likely to choose the mortgage broking channel, well below the percentage of overall loans written by brokers.

We must use this information to ensure that the broker channel is not only leading the way for consumer lending, but that our customers continue to value and trust us.

Peter White AM

Managing Director


Finance Brokers Association of Australasia (FBAA) established in 1993 is Australia’s leading national association for...

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