The latest Hays Jobs Report shows that vacancies for credit assessors are on the rise as lenders become more scrupulous with their verification of customer incomes and expenses when assessing home loan applications.
“We have seen an increase in demand for candidates holding a credit analysis background along with dispute resolution experience to work in EDR (external dispute resolution) teams that liaise with regulators,” the report states.
According to the latest Hays Salary Guide for the 2019-20 financial year, the salaries of credit assessors will also continue to increase, despite slightly fewer (91 per cent, up from 92 per cent) financial services professionals expected to receive a pay rise in the second half of 2019.
The increased scrutiny of income and expenses was particularly noticeable after the suggestion that was made during the financial services royal commission that ANZ Bank was “non-compliant with the National Credit Act, responsible lending obligations and with regulatory guides issued by ASIC” by not verifying “inconsistent” living expenses.
All the major lenders have been tightening up their credit policies around income, expenses and benchmarking.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has since been reviewing its responsible lending guidance (RG 209) in consultation with industry to ensure it “remains effective”, with many lenders expecting an increase in requirements.
For example, in its submission to ASIC, Westpac – which is currently engaged in a Federal Court dispute with the regulator over its use of the Household Expenditure Measure – called for greater flexibility in the assessment of a borrower’s living expenses, claiming that responsible lending guidance should take into consideration a borrower’s willingness to adapt to changes in their financial position.
“Adopting a modest lifestyle for a period of time in order to acquire real property has been the means by which many Australians have secured long-term financial security,” Westpac stated.
“Experience shows that many customers are prepared to, and do actually, make lifestyle adjustments after acquiring a home and can then service their home loan obligations without substantial hardship.
“As such, Westpac submits that placing too much emphasis on the customer’s pre-application living expenses when determining suitability, without allowing scope for reasonable lifestyles adjustments (‘belt-tightening’), would have the effect of denying credit to many customers.”
ASIC commissioner Sean Hughe, however, recently penned an op-ed claiming that the corporate regulator did not intend for its initial guidance to trigger a crackdown on living expenses and create uncertainties over the use of benchmarks like the Household Expenditure Measure.
“Despite what you may hear or read, ASIC has never expected or proposed that lenders scrutinise every discretionary expense that a consumer might incur.
“[We] know that in reality, many consumers adjust their living expenses after obtaining a mortgage,” he wrote.
“Nor have we ever suggested that lenders cannot use benchmarks, like the HEM, to assist them meet their responsible lending obligations.”
In the aftermath of the financial services royal commission, Hays also expects the continuance of the “massive spike in demand for risk and compliance professionals”, such as those with experience across operational and conduct risk, anti-money laundering and financial crime, change management and regulatory compliance.
“Given the spotlight that’s being shone on the industry following the banking royal commission, the ability to effectively assess and monitor risk and compliance has leapt to the forefront of most organisations’ agendas,” the Hays Jobs Report states.
“This has led to a rising demand for risk and compliance professionals. As a result, we expect salaries for niche risk and compliance professionals to increase over the year ahead.”
Hays particularly noted changes in regulation, such as the Banking Executive Accountability Regime, as well as pressure from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, as contributing factors to the rise in demand for regulatory compliance professionals.
“APRA has mentioned its near-term focus (12 months) will follow the outcomes of the royal commission and focus upon misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry, as well as trying to raise company risk and governance frameworks,” the recruitment agency’s report stated.
Large consulting firms, according to Hays, are also investing in their risk and compliance advisory teams that advise clients such as banks on risk culture, reputational risk, compliance and governance frameworks, regulatory change, financial crime and anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing.
“The banks are the most active recruiters across risk at present, both domestic and international,” the report stated, further noting that salaries across risk has also “increased noticeably” over the past year.
Tas Bindi is the features editor on the mortgage titles and writes about the mortgage industry, macroeconomics, fintech, financial regulation, and market trends.
Prior to joining Momentum Media, Tas wrote for business and technology titles such as ZDNet, TechRepublic, Startup Daily, and Dynamic Business.