Barely a decade ago, industry traditionalists were rejecting electronic lodgement for home loans. “Paper forever,” they proclaimed.
Today, some in the commercial loan sector still cling to that principle.
“A lot of mystique surrounds commercial loans, and inherent within that a flawed assumption persists that submissions can’t be done electronically,” says NextGen.Net sales director Tony Carn.
“Suncorp is changing this prevailing attitude by tapping into the ability for brokers to capture small business loan applications electronically via the NextGen.Net ApplyOnline system,” he says.
Carn predicts that once lenders realise how easy and efficient it is to lodge an application for a commercial loan online, the sector will follow the same road map as the residential loan space.
Last month Suncorp launched electronic lodgement for small business loan products.
Thirty per cent of Suncorp’s home loan customers are self-employed, so entering the small business space was a natural progression.
Suncorp’s national manager SME and commercial intermediaries, Robynne Frost, says the move was also about “recognising the evolution of the industry”.
“We realise it’s not about just home loans any more. It’s about brokers fulfilling customers’ needs by having the will and skill to diversify,” Frost says.
Suncorp has long been a strong supporter of the small business sector. It’s only recently, however, that the lender has become proactive in terms of working with broker partners regarding small business opportunities.
“Our ‘Small Business Masterclasses’ receive great feedback because they’re not just about offering a product. We genuinely hold our brokers’ hands and up-skill them to be able to identify opportunities and move into small business,” Frost says.
Suncorp has invested significantly in its Small Business Masterclasses, training close to a thousand brokers in the past six months on how to draw out trends and ratios and do financial analysis with small business customers.
“Which explains why we’ve got waiting lists,” declares Frost, who was instrumental in introducing the masterclasses.
Implementing the NextGen.Net ApplyOnline Small Business LIM solution was a strategic decision, which as Frost explains, delivers two benefits.
“One is for the broker; electronic lodgement delivers a better broker and customer experience through increased efficiency and capability. Before that we had a 39-page manual application, which is consistent with commercial lending.
“It will also streamline back-end processes and deliver faster turnaround times and improve functionality,” Frost says.
The majority of Suncorp’s business transactions are a combination home loan and business loan, and Frost points to “the great technology in ApplyOnline that makes that experience for the broker easier.”
“For example, they only have to punch in details once and then they can clone it,” she says.
“The other big lever is that all our brokers are comfortable with ApplyOnline, so this is another great transition for us in that we can help home loan brokers take those first steps towards a small business transaction working in a familiar system.”
Frost reports that the feedback from brokers who have embraced the change love it and have seen significant improvement in terms of time.
“One transaction came in on a Thursday and was approved by Monday. If we had to go through a 39-page application form manually, we wouldn’t have even finished looking at it by the Monday,” she maintains.
Pointing to the striking similarity between residential mortgage and small business loan applications, Carn says apart from different classifications regarding such items as security, products and income sources, “there are no surprises, which means it’s perfectly simple to do the majority of commercial applications electronically via ApplyOnline”.
“A lot of lenders sell commercial loans on typical levers based on ‘why’ – product, price and policy – and they overlook ‘how’.
“Finally it is being realised that it makes perfect sense to bring ‘how’ into the equation. Suncorp is cutting-edge in this space by shifting to efficient online technology for small business products,” Carn says.
NextGen.Net is Australia's leading technology service provider to the lending industry. It delivers solutions including electronic lodgement, supporting documents and loan processing to a range of banks, non-bank lenders and brokers.
ApplyOnline is the leading electronic lodgement solution for third-party introducers to Australia's largest network of lenders, catering for all types of loans.
ApplyOnline captures all the information needed to assess and process a loan application. It also provides point of sale document production, assessment and supporting document verification, and upload.