Home loans by the major banks are growing at their slowest annual rate in over 10 years, as banks tighten their serviceability criteria and more borrowers switch to smaller lenders. Investment bank Morgan Stanley’s analysis of lending data finds that annual growth in home lending by the big four banks was only 3.6% in November, while loans by the smaller banks grew 8% and non-banks grew 16%.

“In our view, tighter lending standards are creating a competitive disadvantage for the banks,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a research note.

Criteria used by the big banks to assess loan applications has been criticised at the Royal Commission. That is seeing a greater flow of customers to smaller banks and non-bank lenders.

Some big lenders are, however, using their challenger brands to compete in the investor loan market. Commonwealth Bank has reduced the rate on investor loans at subsidiary Bankwest, while Westpac has cut a raft of investor interest rates across its St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA loans.