As a bigger picture, I feel that the Mortgage Broking industry is extremely valuable to Australia. The Australian public are discovering this more every day and voting with their feet. Every year, a larger percentage of borrowers have used Brokers than the year before.
I consider Mortgage Broking to be the democratisation of lending, away from big centralised businesses and large scale monopolies that rarely deliver the best customer outcomes in any industry. They may provide good economies of scale, but less in terms of genuine accountability and services and products tailored to a good understanding of their individual clients.
As with any disruptive force we face opposition from the large vested interests who want us to return to the past, which I hope our regulators will resist.
What is also important is that we do not allow ourselves to become scapegoats when problems occur in loans that are based on the bank’s lending criteria, assessment and policies – not ours.
In the United States, some banks and media attempted to lay the blame for the Global Financial Crisis at the feet of ‘predatory lending’ by Brokers.
In reality, as we know, Brokers can only lend to the rules created by the lenders.
In reality, the roots of the GFC were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, created and supported by the United States Government. These were massive Government Sponsored Entities who bought mortgages from banks, taking the risk away from them. The banks were encouraged by government to increase home ownership rates and knew that by selling their loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac they no longer bore the risk, the government now did.
The US government chose to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to amass hundreds of billions of dollars of sub-prime debt. The result was a cycle of falling lending criteria that produced loans of diminishing credit quality.
Unfortunately, blame is always pushed down, and Brokers are an easy target to tarnished with the outcomes of lending criteria that they have no control over.