Lenders accuse big bank of lowering standards

ANZ has been accused of lowering its lending standards, with major bank rivals claiming it is ­taking on extra risk to win new business customers.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne claimed last week that at least one ‘unnamed’ competitor was weakening its credit standards after the major lender’s market-leading business bank lost market share.

Sources at two banks have both told the AFR that ANZ is acting the most aggressively in the business lending space.

“Conditions in the market are resembling pre-GFC appetite for risk,” said one source.

“We’ve seen ANZ in particular be very aggressive on pricing and credit terms in the SME business market, particularly for commercial real estate.”

APRA and the Reserve Bank of Australia have both issued recent warnings to banks, telling them not to take extra risk in a low interest rate environment where demand for business loans remains subdued.

ANZ chief Mike Smith said the accusations are untrue.

“We haven’t lowered our standards, in fact over the last few years we’ve maintained credit standards very well,” Smith told the ABC on Sunday.

It is understood ANZ called in an external auditor earlier this year to conduct a review of its loan book.

ANZ chief risk officer Nigel Williams told analysts at its profit briefing last week that the bank had conducted a review by state and by business sector and was aware of the claims being made by its competitors.

“The new business that’s come on in that commercial and corporate business is the same or better quality than our existing book,” he said.

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