In August 2020, Macquarie Business Bank provided their clients with the ability to digitally sign loan documents for the first time.
Since then, the legislation governing the use of digital signatures has evolved a couple of times. Following a recent legislative change, digital signatures are once again back, enabled by DocuSign.
Executing loans and contracts online
“Macquarie Business Banking’s digital experience is efficient and consistent,” notes Dallas Taylor, Director and Auctioneer at Melbourne-based real estate agency, Jellis Craig.
During Melbourne’s first major lockdown in 2020, Dallas and his colleagues were selling some residential properties ‘sight unseen’, so enabling remote paperwork signing became an essential part of the process. In some cases, physical witnessing of a document was not only impractical – it could contravene stage four restrictions.
“We use digital signing for our residential sales contracts, and it increases our efficiency by a minimum of three to four days. It’s all done online, and everyone from the vendor to the buyer’s solicitor receives the signed documents at the same time,” he explains.
Dallas was also able to use DocuSign to execute his own investment property loan with Macquarie Business Banking. He needed to settle on the property within 30 days, so a fast turnaround was important. Even though he was refinancing from another bank, his business banking relationship with Macquarie streamlined the journey and he didn’t need to wait for any paperwork.
“There’s no downtime with DocuSign,” he says. “I could sign it at home with my wife when it suited us. It’s also very user-friendly – it takes you to the pages you have to sign and steps you through the document.
"It also means I have digital copies for my records, which are easy to find. It’s definitely the easy way to sign documents of importance.”
Fast, simple and safe
For Macquarie’s Business Banking team, this digital signature capability was made possible by a series of eagerly anticipated legislative changes. Temporary changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (‘Corporations Act’) that were implemented during last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns1, which enabled companies to electronically sign documents, paved the way for this. Then the introduction of COVID-safe regulations at state-level, allowing for the creation of electronic deeds as an alternative to physical (or ‘wet-signed’) deeds in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, sealed the deal.
Macquarie Business Banking harnessed available technology to support clients and their business’ continuity.
“We were quick to give our business banking clients that option once the legislation made it possible, because we saw the opportunity to improve their experience,” explains Matt Elliott, Head of Collateral Management at Macquarie Group. He says his team were eager to adopt the changes required to make it work seamlessly – and they were fortunate to be able to leverage the experience from the retail banking team, which was already using DocuSign.
“We had always hoped that we could enable digital products for business clients with corporate deeds and COVID-19 created an urgency to make that change.
“Our loan documents are typically subject to multiple signatories, and we’ve seen significant amounts of time saved in the execution of these. In the past, all the signatories would usually be present together in a room to sign the document. Then moving into lockdown last year, we’d have to ask them to print, sign and then post the document on to the next signatory.
“With this digital signature capability, that process can now occur in a matter of minutes, irrespective of where each signatory is located.”
Where are we now?
In March 2021, the temporary changes to the Corporations Act lapsed. For Macquarie Business Banking – whose borrowers are predominantly corporations – this triggered a reversal back to wet-signed documents.
“After getting used to a digital solution that worked so well for us and our clients, it was tough going back to a fully paper-based process,” Matt says.
New changes to the Corporations Act attained royal assent on 13 August 20212, which allows for companies to – once again – electronically execute documents under section 127 of the Corporations Act. The team have again worked fast to switch DocuSign back on for our business banking clients. These new rules apply temporarily and are due to expire on 31 March 2022, but the Treasurer has indicated a willingness to introduce permanent reforms later this year.3
Macquarie Business Banking has seen a rapid uptake of digital loan execution – with more than 85% of clients in eligible states opting in – along with significant efficiency gains. On average, digital loan execution saves five days on a typical loan process. Given these benefits, it’s no surprise the business banking team hope for the changes to become permanent.
In the meantime, Macquarie Business Banking will continue to work with clients on whichever method they are more comfortable with. “No doubt it has reduced the burden and effort of paperwork. But some clients still prefer a traditional paper-based method, and they can choose that option early in the process,” concludes Matt.
Macquarie Business Banking’s approach to solving problems for clients was integral to this enablement and change. To learn more about the ways that Macquarie Business Banking makes banking easier for clients, visit www.macquarie.com.au/business.