ANZ CEO wants to be a bigger player in the mortgage market

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A major bank has announced it plans to aggressively pursue mortgage growth, with a particular emphasis on NSW. But one broker says the bank will have to sweeten its offering if it wants to compete.

Shayne Elliott will take over as the chief executive officer of ANZ from 1 January 2016, and has indicated that one of his first orders of business in the role will be to go after a bigger slice of Australia’s mortgage pie, with a particular emphasis on NSW.

In an interview with Fairfax media earlier this week, Elliott said the bank was not comfortable being outperformed by the Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac and its subsidiary St George in the NSW mortgage market.

“We used to joke we were the No. 5 bank of four in NSW, which is true, and it's not just Sydney. It's right across the state. NSW is one of our priorities,” Elliott told Fairfax.

If ANZ is to become more attractive to those looking for a mortgage it will have to make some significant changes, especially in what it offers investors, according to Rebecca Hona, mortgage broker with buyer’s agency wHeregroup.

“At the moment they do have some niche offerings that are great for people who are self-employed or for small business owners, but that’s about it,” Hona said.

“In comparison, a lot of the other lenders are still pretty attractive to investors.”

In her dealings with the bank, Hona said ANZ seems especially reluctant to take on investors, but she wasn’t sure if that was to do with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority-led investor lending slowdown.  

“Borrowing capacities with ANZ are a lot smaller and they have much stricter servicing requirements as well.

“It sometimes feels like they’re actively saying we don’t want investors. Whether that’s due to APRA or something else I don’t know.

“A lot of the other lenders tightened up in response to APRA and then eased back a little, but ANZ hasn’t.”

While there has been some recent speculation that some of the country’s major real estate markets may have reached their tipping points, Elliott said the bank is committed to becoming a bigger player in the mortgage sector.  

“We are not a hedge fund and we are not here to make bets on asset classes and geographies. What we are here to do is build a business that survives, grows and generates a decent return irrespective of the cycle,” he said.

According to the latest banking figures from APRA, ANZ currently has the smallest mortgage book of Australia’s major lenders at $218.7 billion.

This is 0.6% less than the third biggest home loan lender, NAB and 69% less than CBA.

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