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Changing Times: Brokers on the Major Banks

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Annie Kane 13 minute read

The mortgage market has grown exponentially this year as house prices ratchet up, with brokers having to choose carefully which lender they’re recommending to their clients. We take a look at how brokers have been rating the performance of the major banks this year, and why the race is on to improve turnarounds.

Timing is everything. At no point has this phrased seemed more intrinsic to the broker proposition – and their experience of lenders – than this year.

When Momentum Intelligence surveyed brokers for its Third-Party Lending Report earlier this year (see boxout for methodology), the issue of time was all anyone seemed able to talk about. Whether it was time to approve a mortgage, time to discharge a loan, or even just the time it was taking to get through to speak to a credit assessor on the phone, brokers were exasperated by the ever-expanding time taken to get a loan written.

Now in its 12th year of publication, the Third-Party Lending Report helps track lender performance over time to show industry trends and changes in the competitive landscape.


While the major banks generally ruled broker market share during the 2010s (with consistently above-average broker sentiment scores), this year’s report shows that all four major banks had dropped in broker estimation.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), and Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) all saw their scores fall this year.

In fact, none of the major banks made it into the top 20 highest-rated lenders in this year’s Third-Party Lending Report.

While CBA was the highest rated of the four major banks (with a score of 70 per cent), this rating was relatively low overall, ranking in 28th place when including all 37 lenders that had a usable sample size.

Instead, seven of the top 10 performing lenders were non-major banks with the remainder being non-banks (check out last month’s Broker’s Guide to Non-Banks and the July 2021 edition of The Adviser for more on how these segments of the lending market fared).


CBA held onto its lead as the highest rated of the big four banks for the second year in a row. 

Of all banks rated by brokers, CBA actually was ranked first for its “product policy”, “web presence” and its “online resources” this year, and came second for its “online application status tracking”.

Only ANZ managed to make it into the top three for any of the 17 attributes that brokers were asked to rate banks on this year (see sidebar), coming in third place for “upfront valuations”.

However, while CBA was top of the big four, its score of 70 per cent was far below its strong 75 per cent score in 2020, and only just pips that of the lowest-ranked major bank in last year’s survey.  

How brokers ranked the big four banks


























Out of time?

A major contributing factor to falling broker satisfaction was the fact that the big four had really struggled with their speed of service in the past year (particularly at the time of the survey being conducted).

Indeed, the Third-Party Lending Report shows that brokers believe turnarounds times were the leading factor when recommending a lender this year (95 per cent). Given this, the lenders that topped the rankings this year were also among the fastest lenders to approve loans and have a consistent service.

It’s here that the big four really struggled and, as such, their ratings are down on where they’ve been historically.

With the increase in mortgage volumes being written, particularly over the last six months of the financial year 2021, there had been significant pressure on lender turnaround times and performance. As we covered in the cover story for the June edition of the magazine, the major banks were particularly suffering.

As the chief executives all told the standing committee on economics during their ongoing review of the four major banks and other financial institutions in April,  the “time to yes” for home loans was faster when customers went direct, which they attributed to range of factors including technology, access to customer data, and less complexity in borrower demographic.

For example, CBA data told MPs that its median times for home loan approvals during the March quarter, were 1.7 days direct, but 14.7 days via broker, while NAB was at 3.8 days vs 8.3 days and Westpac was 11 days vs a whopping 23 days.

Indeed, the monthly Broker Pulse survey from Momentum Intelligence found that – across all lenders used by broker respondents – turnarounds had blown out to an average of more than 11 business days in early 2021, with the major banks all experiencing long delays.

Many broker comments in the responses to this year’s Third-Party Lending Report survey voiced dissatisfaction with this disparity in approval times, with the big four all ranking poorly for the attribute of “channel conflict” this year. 

How many brokers used the major banks


Sample size









The winds of change

Since the survey was conducted, however, there has been a huge amount of work and resources put in by the major banks to fix the turnaround issues. As we reported in the June edition of The Adviser, all the majors had acknowledged the problem and all of them have been working to hire more staff and update their processes to clear the backlog.

And more continues to be done; ANZ has been working on bringing its automation programme to the broker channel; CBA has increased its number of full-time employees by 30 per cent and tweaked its broker strategy; Westpac announced in August that it had onshored 1,075 jobs to Australia to “improve service to customers” (including in mortgage processing); and NAB has simplified a number of its steps and processes in the approvals processes.

Speaking to The Adviser, Adam Croucher, the general manager, third-party banking at CBA, said: “We have listened to our broker partners and invested significant resources in our operating model, our broker application system and processes, the efficiency of credit officers and the processes and systems that support the broker channel.

“We have increased our investment in people, including a 30 per cent increase in full-time employees and expanded our support team so that every broker will now have a relationship manager who is their direct point of contact.

“Our investment in our systems has included: the launch of the new DigiDocs process which allows customers to receive, sign and return their home loan documents digitally meaning faster settlements and better overall customer experience; uplifted ApplyOnline and our internal systems to support changes to liability and conduct verification requirements to streamline the credit assessment process while maintaining strong consumer protections; and launched a new serviceability calculator to provide a better understanding and transparency of CommBank policies.

“We are seeing this investment having a direct impact on our service levels which have improved considerably over the past few months...

“We will continue to invest in this space to continually improve and maintain this proposition for our broker partners.”

The investments do seem to be slowly working; according to the September 2021 Broker Pulse survey (covering broker experiences in the month of August), the average time to initial credit decision across all lenders was down to an average of eight business days, its fastest time since the pandemic first hit in March 2020.

The Broker Pulse survey suggested that NAB was the fastest of the big four that month, with a turnaround of six days, followed by CBA (seven days), Westpac (10 days), and ANZ (12 days).

But the damage appears to be done. The main challenge the major banks will face now will be getting their turnarounds to within a few days, and – crucially – ensuring they stay there.

The full Third-Party Lending Report 2021 can be accessed via Momentum Intelligence:



The methodology

The 2021 Third-Party Lending Report was conducted online between 8 March and 30 April 2021.

The survey encouraged mortgage brokers across Australia to participate in a self-assessed evaluation of lender performance from their experiences over the last 12 months. Participants were invited to complete this survey by email through The Adviser and Mortgage Business. Lenders were also encouraged to invite their affiliated brokers to contribute to the survey.

The survey received a total of 1,380 responses. After an extensive data validation process including the removal of invalid, duplicate or incomplete responses, the usable sample size for this report was 1,017 brokers.    

What brokers say

“As a broker, it is extremely disappointing to hear/read/experience that there is a huge difference in turnaround times (for more than 12 months already) for broker applications vs. lender direct channel, as this is an unfair competition. Waiting times for longer than two weeks are probably the limit and the big four have consistently been over the two weeks, CBA has been the better one out of them.”

“It’s hard to beat the branch network with most major lenders when it comes to turnaround times. BDMs etc. are usually pretty good, however, they have a certain limitation as to how much they can support brokers. If the trend continues, it will be difficult for the broker to compete.”

“To save both the lender time, and ours, we need websites to show what is happening on the deal when it happens… The CBA website has improved and shows when my docs have arrived and the assessor comments (if any), so there is less need to ring CBA than NAB, for instance.”

“Lenders need more experienced and knowledgeable assessors and creditors, especially the major banks.”

“The big 4 (except NAB) needs to improve their broker channel, otherwise brokers will reduce their business to alternatives. They need to be fair with both the channels and also need extra resources for the broker channel.”

“ANZ has no escalation process unless the file has already been assessed, which is after the horse has bolted and finance clauses have expired.”

“Channel conflict, turnarounds times (not pricing or interest rates) is a major consideration to which lender we, as brokers, recommend to our clients. The big four I am very reluctant to use, considering turnaround times are up to 49 business days at NAB currently and 16-30 days at ANZ.” 

The 17 attributes brokers were asked to rate banks on


  1. Product range: Overall quality and comprehensiveness of residential mortgage products
  2. Product pricing: Competitiveness of pricing of products across key market segments
  3. Product policy: Comprehensiveness and clarity of product policies across key market segments 


  1. BDMs: Overall quality of BDMs (access to BDMs, BDM pro-activity and effectiveness in solving problems)
  2. Credit assessment staff: Access to and ease in dealing/communicating with credit assessment staff including their consistency of credit decisions
  3. Call centre support: Overall service quality, including staff technical knowledge, responsiveness and helpfulness 


  1. Turnaround times: Overall end-to-end turnaround speed, including application processing, loan approval and mortgage contract timeliness


  1. Client support: Effectiveness in servicing your clients post-settlement
  2. Training and education: Provision and quality of training, whether product-specific, compliance or otherwise
  3. Broker communication: Effectiveness of communication with brokers (verbal, written or otherwise) when dealing with queries, issues, product price/policy changes or servicing times
  4. Channel conflict: Overall approach to the third-party channel compared with their branch network. This considers the availability of certain products, promotion of the third-party channel, preferential treatment regarding rates and LVRs
  5. Commitment to the broker channel: Lender’s ongoing commitment and loyalty to the channel, enhancing services and support to brokers and their businesses


  1. Online lodgements: Overall efficiencies, usability and functionality of the system
  2. Online application status tracking: The system’s features, overall efficiency and user experience
  3. Online resources: Comprehensiveness of resources, such as latest forms, new products and policy information
  4. Upfront valuations: Overall functionality, user experience and effectiveness of the system, and whether it provides greater consistency and rigour in the valuation ordering process
  5. Web presence: Effectiveness of broker web portal, considering product and servicing information available and ease of navigation
Changing Times: Brokers on the Major Banks
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Annie Kane

Annie Kane

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. 

Email Annie at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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