Westpac has increased automation in a bid to rectify broker loan assessment times, which dragged behind their competitors.
The big four bank released its 2021 financial year results on Monday the 1st of November, revealing that its total loans grew by $17.7 billion (an increase of three per cent) in the year to 30th September to a total of $709.7 billion.
Net loans in their consumer division increased by five per cent ($18 billion worth) to $415.7 billion while there was a growth in home loans, which offset a $1.4 billion decline in personal lending.
In a review of the 2021 Financial Year laid out in its annual report, Westpac stated that it had “lagged peers in mortgage processing via brokers”.
According to Westpac, its median third-party loan approval time came to 11.7 days in September, which is a decrease from 16.5 days in September last year. Direct channel approvals took 9.7 days on average in September compared to 10.7 in September 2020.
Compared to Momentum Intelligence’s Broker Pulse report, it found that brokers had seen an average turnaround across lenders at approximately eight business days in August.
During an investor and media presentation, Westpac stated that it has an “ongoing focus to improve approval times” and is continuously reviewing its credit and operational processes.
Roughly 29 per cent of loan applications were manually reviewed in the 2021 Financial Year with the remaining 71 per cent being left to auto-credit decisioning. In the previous year, Westpac had used automation to assess 54 per cent of applications.
Peter King, Westpac’s chief executive, stated that there was a “discussion on processing times”, with the bank drafting a road map for improvements.
“To do well in mortgages, we must be competitive on price application speed and borrowing capacity – or volumes drop off quickly,” Mr King told journalists and investors on Monday morning.
Asset Finance Group’s (AFG) Index revealed that lender turnaround times have continued to improve, with the average number of days from initial submission to formal approval decreasing from 25.2 days in the fourth quarter of the 2021 Financial Year to 21.8 days in the first quarter of the 2022 Financial Year.
AFG Chief Executive David Bailey said, “we have been urging lenders for some time to increase their level of investment to adequately resource the broker channel and whilst early days, [it’s] pleasing to see that this is starting to pay dividends.”
In contrast to this, several smaller lenders, including non-banks, saw their turnaround times slow down over the month.
Banks with less than 20 per cent market share were reaching initial time to credit decision in nine days, compared to seven days in July.