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BFCSA: CBA, ANZ, NAB, Westpac: $100 Billion Mortgage Market = Mortgage Wars and Consumers get slaughtered 2004

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 The mortgage wars  June 15, 2004


The home-loan market is shrinking, the banks want their profits back, and the mortgage brokers will be fighting for survival, writes James Kirby.

Stand back for a bruising battle in the $100-billion mortgage broker market. Falling house prices, shrinking loan volumes, and tougher regulation spell trouble for an industry that has never faced a downturn. Worse still, the banking industry is waking up to the fact that it threw away profits to this upstart sector in the good times. Now it wants the money back. .............

The banks have already made their first moves. On June 1, the Bank of Queensland cut all ties with mortgage brokers.   The move by the thriving Brisbane bank has set off alarm bells throughout the mortgage broker market. The Bank of Queensland's chief executive, David Liddy, says: "We decided to go back to doing it ourselves with our own branches because dealing with the mortgage brokers has become too expensive."   Whether rival banks will copy Liddy is an open question. But every bank in Australia, from ANZ Banking Group, with more than 35% of its home loans sold through mortgage brokers (see graph, page 37), to Bendigo Bank, which sells only a fraction of its mortgages through the broker network, is reviewing the industry.

ANZ is planning to introduce franchised bankers across Australia in the coming months - a move that plays directly against the mortgage brokers. Franchisees are reluctant to sign up if a bank uses mortgage brokers; they see them as direct competition. With a plan to train about 200 franchised tied lenders in the coming year, ANZ is quietly pulling business back from brokers.  ................Westpac Banking Corporation has put an effective ceiling on its mortgage broker network, announcing that it does not want to see the volume of brokers' loans exceed the volume of loans sold in its own branches..............  The Commonwealth Bank has announced a $260-million plan to renovate its branch network, a move that will help cap the flow of new business to brokers.....................The plans of National Australia Bank (NAB) and St George Bank are unclear. However, St George remains a minority shareholder, and potential predator, of Mortgage Choice..................


Remarkably, the big banks have allowed themselves to become dependent even on this unregulated and erratic market. Each of the top five banks - ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, St George and Westpac - has between 130 and 290 accredited brokers on its books.............Earlier this month the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) made its most aggressive move on the industry so far, when it launched an "enforceable undertaking" against Mortgage more

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