If you're considering car finance, a car finance broker can save you time and money by helping you access and choose an appropriate finance option for your circumstances, and by assisting you before, during and after the application process. That being said, not all car finance brokers are created equal. You've probably double-checked the numbers, but have you sorted the wheat from the chaff?
Finance brokers receive "accreditations" from lenders, which are official agreements between lenders and the broker that enable the broker to access each lender's services. The range of accreditations held by a broker govern the range of options they can offer to their clients.
The accreditation process varies from lender to lender, with some requiring very little to provide an accreditation, whilst others insist on a shopping-list of items including probity and solvency checks, established trading history, Professional Indemnity insurance cover, trade and customer references and more. Some lenders are so selective that they only deal with one or two of brokers across the whole of Australia!
Tip: When choosing a car finance broker, find out about their range of lender accreditations. Your brokers' accreditations not only affect the range of finance options available to you, but also the quality of those options - the more selective lenders often provide the most attractive finance products. Remember that when it comes to lender accreditations, quantity does not equal quality!
Choose a broker that recruits and retains professional, honest and experienced staff.
Your finance consultant should be an experienced professional who can demonstrate, in writing if requested, why a particular product is recommended for your specific circumstance. You are entitled to ask for testimonials from previous clients and confirmation of their experience if you wish.
Tip: See if your consultant can provide testimonials from their own customers and/or customers of their employer. If your consultant is a contractor rather than an employee, check that they have sufficient Professional Indemnity insurance coverage.
Prompt, personal service should be a given, but you should also expect your finance consultant to provide clear information about timeframes, why they have made their recommendations, and any fees and charges associated with your finance.
A good finance consultant should also be able to explain the comparison rate (if applicable) of your recommended vehicle finance and the total cost of your finance package, including any hidden fees or charges.
Tip: Try our comparison rate calculator to make sure you're comparing apples with apples.
The Finance Brokers' Association of Australia Ltd. (FBAA) is Australia's leading membership body for finance broking professionals. The FBAA believe that the promotion of measurable professional practice standards in sourcing domestic and commercial funding is in the best interests of its customers/consumers and vital to the integrity and future well being of the finance/mortgage broking industry. These standards are published within an industry recognised Code of Practice, and must be adhered to as a condition of membership.
Complaints about finance brokers may also be handled by the Credit and Investment Ombudsman (CIO), an independent, ASIC-approved alternative to legal proceedings for the resolution of complaints with member organisations.
Additionally, finance brokers serving clients based in Western Australia face an extra requirement: they must hold a WA Finance Broker Licence, which requires the licensee to pass a comprehensive range of checks, educational requirements and operational requirements.
Tip: For peace of mind in the event of any dispute, check that your finance consultant, or their employer, is a member of one or both of these industry associations by searching their member lists. If you are a resident of WA - or even the other states of Australia - make sure that your car finance broker holds a WA Finance Broker Licence for maximum peace of mind.
In a filing cabinet or behind a firewall - where is your personal information being stored?
Throughout the process of applying for and finalising your finance, your consultant will need access to your personal information, including copies of drivers licences, home address details, employment and income information. This information and more is required by all reputable lenders.