Bank Interest Margins – Then v’s Now




There’s been a lot of noise lately about if Mortgage Brokers are good for the industry and consumers.

An article published in the Australian Financial Review somewhat falsely claims Mortgage Brokers receive exorbitant incomes for what we do.

However, what we do know is that what the mortgage broking industry has been able to achieve over the past few decades of industry growth is shift the landscape of lending; with that has come an evolution of bank interest rate margins.

To understand this evolution, we can look at a few key points:

Historical Context

  1. Traditional Banking Dominance:

– Before the widespread use of mortgage brokers, banks held a dominant position in the mortgage market. They controlled most of the mortgage lending, which often resulted in higher interest rate margins (the difference between the interest rates banks charge borrowers and their cost of funds).

– The lack of competition meant banks had less incentive to offer lower rates, and consumers had fewer options to shop around.

  1. Introduction of Mortgage Brokers:

– Over the past few decades, mortgage brokers have gained a significant share of the mortgage market. Brokers act as intermediaries between borrowers and lenders, often working with multiple lenders to find the best rates for their clients.

– The rise of brokers has increased competition among lenders, putting downward pressure on interest rates and margins.


Bank Interest Rate Margins: Then vs. Now

  1. Margins When Banks Had Majority:

Higher Margins: In the past, when banks had a majority share of the mortgage market, interest rate margins were generally higher. Banks had more control over pricing, leading to less competitive rates for borrowers.

Limited Consumer Choice: With fewer alternatives available, consumers often had to accept the rates offered by their primary bank, which could be less favorable.

  1. Margins in the Current Market with Brokers:

Lower Margins: The presence of mortgage brokers has led to increased competition among lenders, which has generally resulted in lower interest rate margins. Lenders compete more aggressively to attract borrowers, leading to more favorable rates.

Greater Consumer Choice: Borrowers now have access to a wider range of mortgage products and rates, allowing them to shop around and find the best deal. This competition helps keep interest rate margins lower.


Key Factors Influencing Margins

  1. Competition:

– Increased competition from brokers forces banks to offer more competitive rates to retain and attract customers, which reduces their profit margins.

  1. Technology and Transparency:

– The advent of technology and online mortgage comparison tools has made it easier for consumers to compare rates from different lenders, further driving down margins.

  1. Regulation:

– Regulatory changes aimed at increasing transparency and protecting consumers have also influenced interest rate margins. For example, the introduction of regulations requiring clearer disclosure of mortgage terms has helped consumers make more informed decisions.

  1. Economic Conditions:

– Interest rate margins are also affected by broader economic conditions, such as central bank policies, inflation, and the overall health of the economy.


Comparison Summary

– Then (Majority Bank Control):

– Higher interest rate margins.

– Less competition, leading to higher rates for borrowers.

– Limited consumer choice and negotiation power.

– Now (Rise of Mortgage Brokers):

– Lower interest rate margins due to increased competition.

– More competitive rates for borrowers.

– Greater consumer choice and ability to shop around for the best rates.



The shift from a market dominated by traditional banks to one with a significant presence of mortgage brokers has generally led to lower interest rate margins. This change has benefited consumers by providing more competitive rates and a wider array of options. The increased competition introduced by brokers has been a key factor in driving these improvements, making the mortgage market more consumer friendly.