ASIC’s shadow shopping expeditions - Are they good for consumers and mortgage brokers?

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You may have noticed a lot of speculation in the media about ASIC’s Shadow Shopping research over the last couple of months. ASIC has said this research is part of its effort to better understand the home loan purchasing process, and that it will help to identify the factors that influence which home loan products are purchased.

If you’re like many of our brokers, you’re scratching your head and wondering exactly how one would go about Shadow Shopping a mortgage broking business. And ASIC’s warning last month about fake Shadow Shopping scams certainly didn’t make us feel any more comfortable with the process! So, let’s take a look at what they’re up to.

What is Shadow Shopping?

Shadow Shopping or ‘Mystery Shopping’ is a market research tool that has been used by companies for decades. The exercise usually involves sending out workers pretending to be ordinary customers to purchase goods and access services to test and assess the standards of the business. The shoppers can be briefed to gather all kinds of useful information – like the quality of service, the products provided, and in the case of mortgage brokers, compliance with industry regulations.

ASIC’s Shadow Shoppers are all employed by professional market research companies. They may contact you by phone or in person at your office. They will ask you a series of questions about your services and process. But there’s no need to worry. Your usual high standard of client service and attention to regulatory obligations should be all that’s needed to impress them!

Why is ASIC conducting Shadow Shopping?

ASIC is conducting this consumer and broker research as part of the second phase of their remuneration review. They are seeking to better understand the consumer experience of the home loan purchase and credit assistance process. The research is intended to determine factors that consumers consider when seeking a home loan and to learn more about their experience with mortgage brokers.

Is this good for your customers and your business?

Yes! The research will be conducted in a respectful manner by professional researchers and should not impact you greatly in terms of time.

Any effort to better understand the factors that influence the home loan purchasing process can only be a good thing for the future of our industry. We expect ASIC’s research will provide important insights into the professionalism of mortgage brokers and demonstrate the value you provide to your clients in navigating them through the complexities of choosing and obtaining a suitable home loan.

The research may also identify areas where we can further enhance the client experience and provide them with better outcomes. It could also help us identify ways to improve loan products, the application process and other factors which affect the home loan a customer may choose.

What should I do?

You should continue to provide professional service to your customers as per usual. If an ASIC Shadow Shopper chooses your business, you can impress them by understanding their needs and objectives, checking their financial situation and making an assessment that suits both – just as you would with any customer.

Contact the Compliance Team with any questions.

If you have any questions about ASIC Shadow Shopping, the Compliance Team will be happy to help. Get in touch by clicking your Wiki icon in Mercury or simply email us directly at