Sam White: The system is breaking and we need a solution

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    Not only is a heated property market putting pressure on homebuyers to get in while they still can at the moment, delayed turnaround times through the broker channel are causing heightened anxiety for buyers and brokers across the country. This is an issue Loan Market executive chairman Sam White labelled “glacial” while expressing his concern for the mental wellbeing of brokers copping the brunt of their clients’ frustrations.

    “The biggest issue facing our industry right now is broker burnout,” he told MPA. “I think they are under a lot of pressure.”

    While most brokers have dealt with blown out lender SLAs by managing their customers’ expectations from the start of the transaction, this is often easier said than done. He explained that some lenders change their SLAs throughout the application process, so when a customer has agreed to lodge an application in the expectation it will take 20 days before they hear back, that 20-day period then gets pushed out to 30 – making it near impossible for the broker to offer a realistic guide to their clients.

    Read more: Lender SLAs – are they impacting the best interests of clients?

    “The process to get an approval is so opaque that brokers can’t give confidence,” said White. “I’m very conscious that there are a lot of great brokers at the moment saying, I’m doing really well, seeing lots of clients, the bank balance is looking okay – but I’ll tell you what, I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to.

    “That’s a common refrain from brokers across the country right now.”

    What once used to be considered a “celebration call” when a broker would inform the client their loan application had been approved, is now more of a “finally, you got it” call, he said. Informing clients they could purchase their property used to be a source of joy for brokers. The fact that this has now changed is disappointing, said White.

    “It’s important we start to see an improvement around things like turnarounds, getting confidence in process and policy because when you’re trying to manage expectations and you’re not sure exactly what the answers are – and you’re facing a disappointed customer who might be taking frustration out on that broker even though the broker’s done everything they possibly can, it ends up becoming a disappointing day for people,” he said, “Unfortunately there are more of those that are happening than there are less.”

    Read next: Client divorce costs broker $30,000

    White said Loan Market offers a counselling service for brokers who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. He added that response had been quite high in recent months due to the difficult scenarios brokers were facing. The aggregator also fosters groups to come together to share ideas and offer support to one another, understanding that broking can be a lonely profession for many.

    When asked if industry heads were planning to go to the ACCC about the turnaround differential, White said,

    “We’re looking at any solution we can. We know lenders are under pressure but at the end of the day we’ve got obligations to our lenders to make sure we’re advocating for them and we’ll be following whatever we can do to help find the right answers.

    “We’ll be supporting the lenders. If they want us to change stuff, we’ll change stuff to make it happen.

    “We’ve all got to act honestly, fairly, efficiently to deliver financial services. I think most people are doing it honestly, most people are fair – but no-one could accuse us of being efficient at the moment.”

    Rather than blaming any one party, White said the differential was an “all of us thing” while acknowledging that a lot was “sitting outside brokers’ control.”

    “We just want to get some answers, because at the moment, the system’s breaking and we need a solution and we’ve got to be part of that,” he said.

    Kate McIntyreKate McIntyre is an online writer for Mortgage Professional Australia. She has a wealth of experience as a storyteller and journalist for a range of leading media outlets, particularly in real estate, property investing and finance. She loves uncovering the heart behind every story and aims to inspire others through the artful simplicity of well-written words.
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