While the technological limitations of the legacy systems at the big four have been oft discussed as fintechs continue to crop up in the market, an executive at Australia’s largest business bank believes COVID-19 has put industry players of all sizes on the fast track to lasting digitalisation.
According to NAB general manager of commercial, Chris Thomas, each week of this crisis sees the industry advancing a year in its ability to harness technology to enable different ways of working.
“Technology has presented options for businesses over the last decade that have really only been gradually taken up, and this pandemic has sped up the adoption, because embracing this tech is not a ‘nice to have’ any more – it’s become a pure necessity,” said Thomas.
“There have always been questions around how brokers interact with customers: does it need to be face-to-face or can it be done virtually? It’s proven now that it can be done virtually, as there is still a lot of business to be done, despite the health crisis.
“When you have government sanctions and social distancing, we need to find those ways to ID customers, for instance. We’re moving quickly towards solutions that will allow our brokers to complete ID checks virtually, when in the past we would have sought face-to-face connectively.”
Thomas clarified that adopting technology into one's normal processes doesn’t detract from the relational side of the equation, but can actually enhance it.
“It goes to fundamentals of business and how business is done. Soon, may we hope, people can once again meet up again physically, and that holds enormous value too – walking the floor and seeing a customer’s business allows quite meaningful conversations to unfold,” he said.
“But the next stage of business will also be about ensuring that things like the processing of loans end-to-end can operate equally as efficiently, if not more efficiently, with digital solutions.”
With the industry – and the world at large – currently existing in a state of flux, NAB is striving to provide its business customers and broker partners solidity through delivering consistency of service; in the meantime, all that’s left for brokers and lenders to do is embrace the opportunity to grow and adapt.
“These new ways of working and new ways of doing business beyond this point will continue to evolve – there’s already green shoots appearing,” said Thomas.
“We are at our best in a crisis. This is a health crisis that is turning into an economic crisis, and the spirit of entrepreneurialism in Australia is that you find a way forward.”
More on this story in Issue 17.07 of Australian Broker – out Monday, 20 April
Also in this issue:
Non-major’s growth spurt
With year-on-year mortgage growth of more than 130% in 2019, HSBC is expanding its footprint as one of Australia’s leading non-majors. Just how has it managed such strong growth, and how has the broker network been key to the bank’s success?
How is the mortgage and broking world responding to the COVID-19 pandemic overseas? Here’s your snapshot of the industry news that matters most in North America.
Nancy Youssef’s Big Deal
The founder and director of Classic Finance found herself on the other side of the world when dealing with a client’s complex needs – and then things really went pear-shaped. “I would hate to work out my hourly rate on that deal, because the blood, sweat and tears that went into it would far outweigh the commission,” she said. Find out how she managed to pull it all off.