One of Australia’s biggest banks has announced big changes to the way it works with brokers, the aim being to improve customer service and minimise conflict between different sales channels – two causes we can certainly get behind.

NAB this week revealed its updated broker offering which now gives customers who are introduced through brokers access to the same NAB services and products as any other customer.

This means that customers can access additional NAB products through the broker platform that were previously only available directly through banks: four home loans (NAB Choice Package, NAB FlexiPlus Mortgage, NAB Tailored Home Loan and NAB Base Variable Rate Home Loan), as well as 10-year interest only periods for investment loans and a wider range of credit card products.

Steve Kane, NAB broker offering general manager, described the launch as a significant step for the bank, saying it marked the final step in efforts to strengthen connections between the bank and the broker network.

“We had the Homeside brand that didn’t really resonate and put a hurdle in front of brokers when they were talking to their customers. We made a decision to move to NAB Broker and remove the Homeside brand, but the operation stayed the same,” said Kane.

“This is the final stage of that journey, which is really about using the full power of the NAB brand, all the process and services of NAB and all the channels of NAB to support brokers. This is really as much a statement about launching NAB back into the broker market,” he said.

The new NAB broker offering is not just about product access; the move is also focused on customer service and strengthening the broker-client relationship.

“The position that brokers are now taking is… more and more a long term relationship, rather than transactional one,” Kane explained.

“A significant number of brokers are now looking at the whole lifecycle of the customer and part of this rebrand is talking about the broker as a trusted adviser and we’re talking about broking for life.

“We need to be able to offer a holistic range of products and services to support the brokers in doing that, rather than just a mortgage.”

In the past, brokers may have been wary of referring their customers directly to NAB branches because of concerns that commission-driven staff would steal their sale.

Now, NAB branches will have staff dedicated to serving broker-introduced customers, not incentivised by sales targets. This means that brokers can direct clients to a branch to have their accounts and other facilities properly set up, without the worry of losing out on commission.

“The broker is in charge of the products they want to sell the customer. We’re not trying to say we’ll take it all over. What we’ll be doing is ensuring all their accounts and facilities are set up correctly,” Kane said.

“It’s not about competition between channels; it’s targeted at customer service. But it’s not targeted at customer service to the detriment of the broker channel.

“We will always respect the primacy of the broker-client relationship. If a customer came in and said I want a transaction account, we might set them up for that, but on their file brokers can indicate they have a financial planning business or whatever else we won’t do anything that conflicts with that.”

We give a big thumbs up to banks focusing on customers and being open about how their systems work.