Can banks stop the slide in turnaround times?

With turnaround times getting worse, your top five banks explain what they’re doing to improve them

For the first time in several years, turnaround times have got worse, you told our Brokers on Banks survey. 40% of respondents said turnaround times had worsened compared to 37% saying they had improved, with several banks scoring unusually poorly on turnaround times.

Our Banks on Brokers report asked your top five rated banks about several issues, amongst them turnaround times.

Westpac (2017’s Bank of the Year)

MPA: Turnaround times have been a difficult area for many banks this year, but Westpac continued to be rated no.1. How do you maintain excellent turnaround times?

Tony MacRae, general manager of third party distribution: The first is around those processes and simplifying and removing red tape. Simple things, like trying to remove the amount of back-and-forth touchpoints, or encouraging our operations people to pick up the phone and make a phone call, rather than send a message or email, which means you can get to the heart of the issue quicker, and we get much quicker turnaround and simpler processes for all.
The second is around ownership and accountability and ensuring all people in the value chain are prepared to take ownership and be held accountable, so applications don’t slip through the cracks.
The third thing is that every conversation, every project that we implement, has a real, relentless focus on the customer. That’s something we’re really proud of and is at the centre of our value proposition.

ANZ (2nd overall)

MPA: Turnaround time has been an area ANZ have put a lot of emphasis upon. Yet this year ANZ’s ranking for turnaround time slipped from 2nd to 4th. What are you doing to improve turnaround times?

Simone Tilley, head of retail broker distribution: We have been strong on this historically, the market has high expectations, and rightly so. Whilst I am a little surprised by the result, it’s also important that we take this feedback on board and act swiftly with sustainability in mind. 

We have been working in tandem with our operations colleagues on ways to reach a market leading position and, hopefully, our brokers and customers have already started to see improvement in this area.  
We understand that brokers value consistency and it is our aim to deliver what you and your customers have come to expect from us. 

Commonwealth Bank (3rd overall)

MPA: CBA dropped from 6th to 10th for turnaround times this year. What has caused this result, and how do you intend to improve turnaround times? 

Sam Boer, general manager of broker sales: Improving our application turnaround times is one of our key priorities as we know how important it is to deliver a fast, consistent service for customers.
Importantly - quality applications are critical to a fast, consistent credit decision and we need to ensure basic application requirements are met at the time of submission. We’re still seeing a number of applications missing very basic information, so we need to work together with brokers to ensure they understand our requirements.

We recently introduced ApplyOnline with Dynamic Checklist and Document Upload which will help brokers to ensure that they’re providing us with all of the supporting documents we need up front.

Suncorp (4th overall)

Although Suncorp weren’t asked specifically about turnaround times, the subject nevertheless came up in conversation.

MPA: Although Suncorp came fourth overall, in several categories of service brokers rated you below this level. What changes have you made to drive consistently good service across all areas of your business? 

Mark Vilo, head of bank intermediaries: We know that service is absolutely key and providing consistent turnaround times that brokers can rely on remains a priority for us and we’re absolutely focused on improving our back office scalability to deliver consistency 100% of the time.
This year we’re also going to be focusing on utilising technology in a way that helps to deliver a smarter way of doing business. This includes enhancing and expanding our upfront valuation process and utilising dynamic processes to validate information prior to assessment.

We’re also going to work closer with our broker partners and ensure that we’re providing the best service proposition possible, to deepen relationships and really earn our position as the best non-major.

Bankwest (5th overall)

Although Bankwest weren’t asked specifically about turnaround times, it’s an area they’re worked heavily on improving. 

MPA: Reaching the top five is a great achievement for Bankwest. What changes have you made in the past year to stand out from the other non-major banks?

Stewart Saunders, general manager of broker sales: The last 12 months has been a really exciting period at Bankwest as we have focussed on investing in strengthening our relationships with brokers and supporting them in delivering world class experiences to customers. A key priority for us has been building a strong broker proposition which resonates with our broker partners. 

A key initiative was the introduction of the case ownership structure which has led to us consistently achieving a sub-two day approval process from the point of application to final decision. This change sees a single case owner being assigned from the point of application to the final decision. This has allowed our processing colleagues to take far greater ownership of the process at the same time as increasing accountability to deliver an improved and consistent experience. 

Secondly, with regard to technological innovation, we have conducted extensive research with brokers and customers to assess how we can improve the service throughout the application process. In November 2016 we rolled out the Bankwest Home Loan Tracker application, which gives brokers and customers key updates along the application process.

An important step in the development of this application was the feedback we received from brokers, who were keen to ensure they were still able to provide the key communication of the home loan application being successful. With that in mind we introduced a 24-hour window into the process, during which time brokers can contact their customers directly to deliver the good news. 

It is exciting to see how Bankwest and brokers have been able to work together to provide a great experience for customers while still complimenting the service provided by brokers. 

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