Q. What has been the driving force behind the formation of NAMBA?
The fundamental question that mortgage brokers and advisers need to ask is whether the provision of mortgage advice is a professional service or not. I have not found anybody who has said it is not. Every adviser I have spoken to has said they want to be regarded as a professional. Advisers need to organise themselves so that authority, regulators and the industry can actually recognise them as a professional body. They need a voice ‘ our vision is to create a national association for mortgage brokers and advisers that is recognised by authority and in which the public has confidence. We also want to support, promote and enhance the professionalism of mortgage brokers and advisers. I firmly believe the longer we are in existence and continue to make progress towards our aims and objectives, the more support will be there from the industry.
Q. Do you think that other broker bodies may appear?
The fact that I came along earlier this year having done some research and have made some noise in the industry may have prompted other people that were intending to launch a new body to move it forward. In my opinion, if an association is to do its job properly, the membership has to comes first, the industry which is being represented comes second and the consumer, who there is a responsibility to, comes third. If more organisations do emerge we need to ask who they are and what they are. They may be a trade organisation ‘ in which case they would represent firms and corporate bodies and speak on their behalf to the industry. But we are a professional association, which is different. It is purely for the promotion of the profession in the industry. There may be room for more professional organisations, and I see no reason why we could not work alongside them. The only way this would not work is if two associations had conflicting views and were trying to tell the regulator different things.
Q. How has the industry responded to the launch of NAMBA?
There has been a great deal of encouragement. Everyone recognises that there is a need for a voice. In terms of support, some have been very supportive and others have decided to sit on the fence and wait and see what transpires. That is understandable and we are confident that with time they will come on side.
Q. How have your experiences helped you gain an understanding of the needs of mortgage advisers?
Although I worked in the financial services industry for 25 years, I am the first to admit I have only had experience in the mortgage industry since 1998. So I am a bit of an unknown in the mortgage circle. But from working as a compliance consultant I have been able to experience and understand mortgage advisers’ problems and issues. I worked very closely with my clients and have learnt a lot from them.
Q. Do you feel your involvement with Century Mortgages ‘ which was closed down by the DTI for compliance failure ‘ may deter potential members from joining NAMBA?
Century Mortgages was one of my clients when I was doing consultancy work. I have to say that we fell out as I told them things they did not want to hear. However, they valued the fact I had said things how they were and they asked me if I would be interested in helping them with compliance. I agreed to be a consultant for them, but at the end of the day, there were aspects of the company that gave me grave concern. I gave them, in my mind, two years to get their act together. But after about 18 months the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had completed their investigation and closed them down. I have dealt with everything from excellent organisations to the bad and the ugly. This has given me very varied experience and has taught me how not to run a business. People ask me why I associated myself with a company such as Century Mortgages. If there is criticism about whether or not I am fit to help get NAMBA off the ground and run it on behalf of members, then I tell those people to say so now.
Q. NAMBA is currently campaigning for the DTI to review Section 155 of the Credit Act. What are the issues behind this campaign?
Everyone in the industry is pleased that the DTI is taking a comprehensive review of the Credit Act. Yet they leave out one of the most difficult areas ‘ Section 155 ‘ which is all about the retention of broker fees should a mortgage not complete. To have a maximum fee of £5 is a derisory figure for a professional. This is in contravention of the spirit of the minimum wage. We have told the DTI that if they are doing a comprehensive review, let us make it comprehensive. So we have put together a campaign to help get it through.
Q. Do you think that mortgage advisers have a bright future ahead despite the current onslaught of regulation?
If regulation is soundly based and supports the industry I am confident that as long as brokers embrace compliance issues, nobody needs to fear anything. If they have a mindset to run away and not face up to what they have to do then they will find it very tough indeed. If we want to get mortgage advice recognised as a profession, we have to act in a professional manner.