Minz says the decision perpetuates the confusion caused by the big banks’ multi-branding strategy –which he describes as setting up or acquiring smaller brands that then give the impression of being independent.
“This strategy is creating a false impression among customers that there is a high level of competition in the marketplace, but in reality a number of these so-called competitors are actually part of the big banks themselves.”
However, the ACCC concluded that this would not give rise to a ‘substantial’ lessening of competition, arguing that Aussie brokers make up just 6% of Australia’s mortgage brokers and that ‘there are many other distribution channels through which lenders can access brokers and borrowers’.
In reaching its decision, the ACCC says it consulted with a range of interested parties, including bank and non-bank lenders, mortgage aggregators, broker head groups and industry bodies.
Aussie declined to comment on the decision, saying simply that it’s ‘business as usual’ at the aggregator. A representative of CBA says the major bank is ‘pleased’ with the outcome, but refused to comment on any potential conflict of interests, saying the bank ‘[doesn’t] want to get in a debate over this’.