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Bankers leaving the industry in frustration as lending rules tighten

Employees in mainstream banking are leaving the sector as they become fatigued by constantly changing lending rules says the new General Manager of leading mortgage brokerageOmega Capital.

Noni Martin joined Omega Capital in June last year after a long career in retail banking. Her last role was as a partner in BNZ’s Property Finance division, managing a $650 million plus portfolio.

“I still have a lot of long-time friends and colleagues in banking.  It’s a very tight community and the overwhelming feedback is that it’s a real chore being in retail lending at the moment,” says Martin.

She says many were becoming fatigued as tighter lending restrictions limited the ability to secure finance for their clients, leaving them frustrated and seeking alternatives.

Martin stepped into the General Manager role in September and since her appointment has taken on another broker, Nikki Wood, who has also left retail lending with Westpac, to join Omega Capital.

Martin says as regulating authorities continued to shape the way retail banks considered property lending, employees in the sector were left feeling they were adding little value for their clients.

“Banking is not what it used to be. It’s hard to get a deal done at the bank currently. There is a lot of fatigue for frontline lenders at mainstream banks because so many of the decisions are out of their hands.”

In a competitive job market where their skills could be well used, some were choosing to find new roles or leave the industry altogether, Martin says.

Nikki Wood joined Omega as their newest broker last month. She left the banking industry after 26 years, many of those working in property finance.

“Everything was getting harder and harder and for the most part it is all around the compliance but lending in general has become really challenging.”

She said it had become onerous and she was aware of many former colleagues who were leaving the industry in frustration.

“You feel like you’re not able to get your job done anymore and you can feel the frustration coming from customers as well.”

Requirements like AML Compliance (anti-money laundering) and more recently The Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act, while essential, were also creating hours more work.

“You can find yourself in the situation where you have a settlement date on a significant commercial property transaction and the finance is all settled but it is borderline whether the settlement will go through because the relevant bank accounts haven’t been opened because they haven’t finalised all the AML requirements,” says Nikki.

Wood was working for Westpac’s commercial property team managing a portfolio of around $500 million before joining Omega Capital.

She said she was ready for a change, had heard about Omega and then saw the role at Omega come up so decided it was time to move on.

“I’m really looking forward to working in the new environment and coming up with solutions for Omega’s property clients,” says Wood.