Imagine all those people

17 Nov 2010

Make no bones about it the mortgage industry works best when it works together. I was struck by this very thought during the time I spent at last week’s Mortgage Business Expo; while I have been to many Expos over the years and other road shows and exhibitions too, sadly, it has been a rare occurrence to see the differing sectors of the industry sing from the same hymn sheet in quite the way it did over those two days at Kensington Olympia.

It has already been commented on but I thought I would add my two-penneth regarding the ‘atmosphere’ at Expo this year. Some may scoff and question what sort of ‘atmosphere’ can be generated at a business event but, let me tell you, at various Expos in the past you often felt like it would be best to segregate the adviser/broker attendees from the lenders given the differences in opinion that were being voiced. At the height of the dual pricing debate a few years ago the sense of distrust and distaste in the room was tangible.

Of course, in terms of showing solidarity it is helpful if both sides have something of a common challenge (or dare I say) common enemy to face. In recent years it has seemed like the FSA has played the part of pantomime villain particularly for the broker sector who have often felt like they have been treated as the ‘poor relation’ when it comes to regulatory matters and their impact. Now, of course, with the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) and its far-reaching implications for both lenders, brokers and distributors alike, a more serious tone has been set. There are many in the industry who believe that if the regulator is to implement the MMR proposals as they currently exist then the phrase ‘it’s behind you’ could be attributable to the future health and prosperity of the mortgage market and all its stakeholders.

Therefore, one cannot help but be enthused by the words of those who spoke about the MMR from, shall we say, both sides of the fence and I came away from the seminars in particular with a strong sense that everyone, apart from perhaps the FSA, were pulling in the right direction. It, to my mind, sets the back-biting and point-scoring between advisers and providers in the past into some sort of context. Working within an industry as inter-connected as ours should mean that we truly do need each other, and it is somewhat sad that a major threat to our sector has been the catalyst for what now appear obvious, i.e. that it is strongest when it pulls together.

Now, while the majority of industry players might be in agreement about the need to scale back on some of the MMR proposals and to think again about, for example, a raft of European regulation heading over the horizon, we should not feel too complacent about our united position. After all, the FSA are the key player in all of this and, judging by the comments made at Expo, they are still rather certain that all the proposals so far outlined are still necessary. 

We must all be wondering whether this is truly a consultative process or if we will be listened to and then ignored, as has happened on too many occasions to mention in the recent past. Is the MMR truly all ‘still to play for’ as Santander’s Iain Laing believes or have the rules of the game been decided a long time ago? I hope it is the former and that our trade bodies and the voices of all those who were raised at the Expo last week are being listened to. When you have one of the major lenders in the UK declaring that the MMR will create an unsustainable market which will not benefit consumers in the long-run, then we can only hope that they (and the many others like them) are listened to.

One final point about Expo which I would like to make was the (re)appearance of a number of lenders at this year’s event. This has often been an accusation thrown at the organisers and the event itself over the past couple of years – why should we attend when the lenders are not there?  Well, this year, they were there – not all I should point out but, to my mind, significantly more than in the recent past. Brokers are not expecting lenders to exhibit and promise the world in terms of greater lending levels or expansive product opportunities, however it is good news when lenders are there because their presence in itself shows their support for the intermediary distribution channel and the work that advisers do. It certainly sends a message to the current regulator that lenders are working with intermediaries and wish to continue to work with them.

All in all this year’s Expo was a strong event and ‘the buzz’ – if we can call it that – was certainly much more positive than it has been previously. This should be a starting point for us all and let’s hope it signals a new era for the mortgage market – an Entente Cordial of sorts – in which all industry players recognise the value of each other and the need to foster stronger relationships between each other. At this point I am in danger of sounding like John Lennon. Imagine that.

Bob Hunt

Blog Archive

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SVRs are a cash cow for many mortgage lenders 
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Leaving a network should be more straightforward 
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Not all later life customers are in the same boat 
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Change is constant 
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Paradigm signs exclusive specialist lending deal with Brightstar 
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In the Spotlight with Bob Hunt 
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MMR 12 months on 
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Mind the protection gap 
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Analysis: Change status with the right support 
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Securing the specialist string to your bow 
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Interest rate direction is anyone’s guess 
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Regulatory B2L change is inevitable 
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Analysis: Do your homework with relationships 
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Lenders rising to the self-employed challenge 
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The sectors to watch in 2015 
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A helping hand 
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Coming in from the cold 
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Analysis: Why distribution demands inclusion 
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Analysis: Broker community boosted by HSBC 
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Just when I thought I was out 
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Analysis: Owning a home is not out of reach 
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Analysis: Get set for more BoE intervention 
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Welcome to the Twilight Zone 
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Housing policy deserves seat at top table – Bob Hunt 
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MMR is enough to slow the bubble 
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Help to Buy remains in the spotlight 
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Mixed messages risk consumer confusion - Bob Hunt 
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H2B a rare housing policy success 
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The better option to going direct 
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Ask the Experts: Will MMR cause mass application declines? 
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Paradigm launches protection arm 
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MMR lending slowdown could force protection bonanza 
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A big year ahead for lenders 
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BoE is unlikely to be trigger-happy 
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Stay ahead of the regulator with CPD 
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MMR compliance underpins success 
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