The Adviser has joined leading research house RFi to launch the inaugural Australian Lending Awards, the first awards dedicated exclusively to achievement within the mortgage lending industry.
LENDERS ARE battling the storms of an increasingly competitive home loan environment.
Until now, however, there has been no awards program to recognise exclusively their overall success in providing for a specific demographic.
The inaugural Australian Lending Awards will change all that, taking into account the views both of consumers and of brokers and combining them with industry professional opinion.
The Awards - to be held in Sydney on 10 March 2011, following the first Australian Mortgage Conference - will recognise the market leaders across a variety of lender product categories.
With literally hundreds of home loan products on the market, and Australia's major, second tier and non-bank lenders constantly jostling for market share, borrowers could be forgiven for becoming confused.
While many are tech savvy and happy to research home loan products on the internet, most comparison websites rank products based on price rather than overall suitability.
These rankings certainly have a place in the current market; however, lender pricing changes regularly, quickly and dramatically.
What may seem like a good deal one month may not be the next and the range of options available is daunting. Knowing which lenders stand out from the pack would certainly help.
Alex Whitlock, director of Sterling Publishing (publisher of The Adviser) says recognising lenders' achievements will benefit borrowers, brokers and lenders alike.
"In a changing market place, it is important for both consumers and brokers to know where lenders are successful and where they fall down," he says.
Lenders will benefit because an Australian Lending Award will help to differentiate them from the pack.
"We aim to create awards that lenders can publicise in their consumer marketing campaigns," Mr Whitlock says.
"Moreover, we need an awards program that highlights the best of the best - something that lenders can strive towards."
Sterling Publishing teamed up with top research house RFi to create a program that will be highly regarded both by the financial services industry and by consumers.
RFi's in-depth knowledge of mortgages and the banking system means the organisation is well placed to poll consumers and gauge how they perceive Australia's lenders.
"Potential borrowers need to know that if a lender is recognised as the best in their field then that judgement comes from a comprehensive pool of resources," Mr Whitlock says.
"With RFi, we can tap into how 20,000 consumers perceive a range of lenders."
It is equally important that the lenders themselves recognise the Australian Lending Awards as credible and based on solid research, Mr Whitlock says.
"RFi is a national research house that's widely respected by Australia's major, second tier and non-bank lenders," he says. "That's why we're partnering with them.
"For our part, through The Adviser we receive high quality feedback from the broker channel, and we know we are highly respected by brokers."
RFi director Alan Shields says the partnership brings together two robust organisations that are able to successfully measure both broker and consumer perceptions of Australia's lenders.
"Bringing each of the organisations' resources together makes for what we think is a strong partnership," Mr Shields says.
With a solid partnership in place, both organisations are now eager to get the inaugural Australian Lending Awards underway. However, a robust and transparent methodology is essential if the recognition is to be seen as credible within the industry.
The nomination process will begin before year's end. RFi will survey consumers to get their views on Australia's lending institutions. Similarly, The Adviser will survey brokers to find out who their preferred lenders are, and why.
Based on the research, finalists will be nominated across 12 categories and then invited to provide submissions to a panel of industry professionals. The panel will rank them against a number of criteria including (but not limited to) price, product features and suitability of loan.
Mr Shields says it is vital for the Australian Lending Awards to look beyond pricing. "A lot of rankings out there will say, ‘This is the best institution because it has the cheapest rate'," he explains, "but while we will be looking at price, it's not the be all and end all.
The suitability of a loan, according to Mr Shields, will be the most important factor in determining the winners.
"We will ask both brokers and consumers to tell us about their experiences in dealing with lenders across different product areas," he says. "We'll then work out how they all stack up against one another."
RECOGNISING THE INDUSTRY'S BEST
The Adviser and RFi have joined forces to create an exciting new initiative for Australia's mortgage lending sector.
Until now, industry awards have been broad, focusing on a number of facets of mortgage lending and distribution. The Australian Lending Awards will be the first awards ceremony aimed squarely and exclusively at the mortgage lending industry.
Tables are on sale now; book early to avoid disappointment.
Date: 10 March 2011
Location: The Westin Hotel, Sydney
Table bookings: Call Bettina Palomo, 1300 526 206
Nominations: Commence December
Visit www.australianlendingawards.com.au for full details.
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