At TMM's Better Business Conference last November, Westpac's third-party business development manager Tania Ropati (pictured), outlined the bank's plan to cut turnaround times by handing loan applications to branches at the conditional approval stage, rather than final approval stage.
Nearly a year on from the decision, most advisers say the pilot has helped their customers.
Hamish Patel of Mortgages Online said: "Westpac seem to be best in class for brokers right now, with redirecting work to branches from the broker unit to keep brokers' deals moving fast. This, along with the fact they are only one of two banks paying trail might mean market-share growth from brokers right now, I reckon."
Patel added: "I had a deal approved within five hours with them, when most banks are at a few days before they pick up a deal. But only because they were able to redirect to a branch."
Joel Oliver, of SuperCity Mortgages, said he "applauds" Westpac's decision. He added: "It is much better than radio silence for weeks on end. It's like the good old days with the branch, you can actually pick up the phone and talk them through the deal and work together on it. This is what is used to be, a relationship and partnership. Rather than the application being sent to a team of number processors with no emotion and a ‘next please’ attitude."
Asked whether its new system was a success, a Westpac spokesman said the new model was "well received by mortgage advisers": "They’re now able to deal directly with the branch lenders from the conditional approval stage and are reporting a 50% reduction in turnaround times in many cases, which greatly improves the customer experience," the spokesman added.
At last year's TMM Conference, Westpac's Ropati apologised for the bank's slow turnaround times. While they appear to have improved, some advisers say teething problems remain.
One North Island adviser said Westpac's new system had been "a bit up and down", adding: "On the whole though we can cope with branches helping out, and it does have merit, and no system is ever perfect."