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Ian Rakhit: A collaborative approach

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    Two years ago, Bankwest was celebrating as brokers voted the bank as the second best in Australia in MPA’s Brokers on Banks survey. This year, it’s celebrating its second year in the top spot.

    Winning medals in all 10 categories, the bank has done well to continue to impress brokers over a year that was full of challenges and uncertainty.

    Ian Rakhit, general manager, third party, says Bankwest aims to be known as the best broker bank in the country, acknowledging that it can only achieve that by working closely with brokers to deliver the services, tools and support they want and need.

    “Developing and maintaining strong relationships with brokers has always been central to our broker model, which meant that when the world was struck by a global pandemic we were fortunate to already have in place many of the initiatives that brokers needed,” Rakhit says.

    “I’m incredibly grateful to the broker community and appreciative of the collaborative relationship we’ve worked hard to build with them, and I’m proud of the care and commitment shown by my colleagues to our brokers, both of which are reflected in this award.”

    Rakhit says last year was one “like no other”, and while it resulted in banks bringing in new initiatives like electronic identification and end-to-end digital home loan experiences, Bankwest strengthened its relation-ships with brokers in other ways. The bank’s BDM model has been designed with brokers in mind: BDMs are complemented by broker support managers, meaning a point of contact is always available.

    Bankwest achieved a gold medal for its BDM support, showing that this model is working well; the bank’s score in this category was the highest in the whole survey.

    “Bankwest is proud of the BDM model it has developed in response to broker feed-back and needs, and our BDMs do a fantastic job, but they are also enabled to deliver the service brokers need and expect by the colleagues, tools and services that support them,” Rakhit says.

    “I come back to the importance of our collaborative relationship with brokers because support is meaningless if it’s not what brokers actually need, so we look to provide a model that enables brokers to engage with us in ways that best meet their needs.

    “That means complementing our case ownership model and BDM/BSM relation-ships with high-quality phone support, our web chat functionality that’s exclusive to brokers, our extensive self-service options in the Broker Portal, and face-to-face support where appropriate.”

    Communications, training and development was another important category in which Bankwest achieved a gold medal. In a year like 2020, these three areas were critical, and supporting brokers in safely delivering the best possible service to customers was a key focus for Bankwest.

    One of the ways it achieved this was by improving its onboarding experience for new and returning brokers through timely and targeted communications throughout their journey. This was complemented by the development of virtual broker accreditation training.

    Bankwest also launched its Connect series offering insights to small businesses. It opened this up to brokers to support them in managing issues related to JobKeeper, cybersecurity, HR and cash flow, for example.

    As brokers adapted their businesses over the year, a lot of the training and support also focused on diversification, for which the bank also received a gold medal.

    Rakhit says Bankwest appreciated this recognition of the work of its team in small business and commercial lending. It has a dedicated Broker First team to support brokers from scenario to completion for applications below $1m.“Brokers are so important to Bankwest that they occupy one of our three key strategic priorities, and our Broker First team, as with all teams that work with brokers, only deals with brokers, which ensures they are best placed to understand and support brokers’ needs,” Rakhit adds.

    Despite the uncertainties of 2020, the year saw record home loan applications. While this was great for brokers who had originally been concerned about what 2020 would look like for them, it also meant increased turnaround times.

    Bankwest dropped from second to third place in this category in the survey, but it has done a lot over the last year to make sure it provides acceptable SLAs.

    Rakhit says the bank’s digital home loan process allows customers to sign their contracts digitally from any device within minutes, reducing time to settlement from about 13 days to fewer than seven working days for new loans and just 24 hours for increases to existing loans.

    Bankwest’s Broker Portal is also popular with brokers and provides a range of digital self-service tools to make dealing with the bank simple, consistent and efficient.

    “Our technology tools and offerings play an important role in complementing the critical aspect of our relationship with brokers, particularly our case ownership model, which ensures single-person responsibility for the processing of an application,” Rakhit says.

    “Bankwest also responded to the active housing market and heightened refinancing levels by increasing the number of colleagues in the processing team, while adding an initial review as applications land to advise brokers of any outstanding information required.”

    Rakhit adds that the review has been welcomed by brokers “as they can gain any missing pieces of paperwork whilst valuations are underway”.

    Rakhit says it is important to acknowl-edge that Bankwest’s strong reputation and recognition in this year’s Brokers on Banks survey is a reflection of the collaborative partnership and relationship it has developed with its broker network. “Bankwest and brokers together have worked hard to build that relationship, and I would expect to maintain a strong reputation with brokers for as long as we remain genuinely committed to listening, under-standing and working with them to address their needs,” he says.“We want to be known as the best broker bank in the country, and we can only achieve that by working closely and collaboratively with brokers to deliver the services, tools and support they want and need, to make their jobs and dealing with us as easy as possible.”

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