ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott has conceded that the bank’s complex mortgage application process has contributed to much of its “processing and administrative errors”.
Giving evidence to the financial services royal commission in its seventh and final round of public hearings, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott has acknowledged that the bank’s home loan application process, which he said consists of 408 steps, has contributed to processing and administrative errors and was not “fit for purpose”.
Commissioner Kenneth Hayne told Mr Elliott that he was “struck” by the number and size of such errors across the banking industry and asked why the issue wasn’t resolved prior to being identified by the commission.
Mr Elliott responded: “If we just look at some of the data, applying for a mortgage and processing that through sounds reasonably simple.
“[However], there are 408 steps in that process at ANZ. A large number of those steps are manual. That’s why things go wrong in the first place.
“There is a myriad of systems behind it all – technology. That, in and of itself, is complex and not fit for purpose and we’re redesigning that.”
Mr Elliott also acknowledged that the number of steps in the mortgage application process reduces the level of accountability of individuals within the “value chain”.
“We never had that single point of accountability,” he said.
Branch network “not a terribly efficient” mortgage distribution channel
Further, throughout the course of the hearings, Mr Elliott defended the bank’s decision to reduce its branch presence.
Counsel assisting the royal commission Rowena Orr QC questioned ANZ’s decision to close approximately 110 branches over the past decade and, according to Mr Elliott, 35 branches over the past 12 months, which MS Orr alleged has reduced accessibility to banking services, particularly for customers in remote and regional communities.
However, Mr Elliott told the commission that he had questioned whether the services offered through a branch network could be offered more efficiently through the provision of technology or through other “avenues”, making specific reference to home loan origination via the broker and mobile banking channel.
Ms Orr asked: “Do people tend to like to go into branches when they’re discussing something as significant as a home loan?”
Mr Elliott replied: “Yes, perhaps, although I would say for ANZ - and we may be different from our peer group – [less] than a third of home loans are originated through a branch.
“[Fifty-five] per cent come through brokers and another roughly 15 per cent come through our mobile banking network.”
The ANZ CEO added: “So, the branch network is not a terribly efficient or well-used avenue for home loans.”
Mr Elliott’s comments are in line with findings from Morgan Stanley Research’s Roadmap to Branchtopia report, released in October, which found that mortgage sales through ANZ’s branch network were the least efficient of the big four banks, with $35 million in home loans settled per branch in the 2017 financial year.
According to Morgan Stanley, ANZ “relied more on mortgage brokers” relative to other major banks, with broker-originated loans making up 51 per cent of its home loan flows in 2H17.
The final round of the royal commission’s public hearings continues, and will conclude on Friday, 30 November.