My answer would be yes we will join. As we approach full regulation of mortgage advice we need, more than ever, to have a united industry voice that can be representative of all our views in broad terms.
As I travel around the country I hear many concerns being voiced about the impact of regulation, and many questions concerning how the changes will affect us. The sad fact is that, until now, we have had no representation as mortgage intermediaries. There is a growing view that mortgage advice is becoming more and more specialised, with an ever-increasing level of skill required to deliver a focused service to the customer. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) is doing an admirable job in delivering one part of the industry’s views, but the intermediary market has some different requirements that must be voiced prior to regulation as well as during the process.
The ‘catch 22’ is that intermediaries need to see a strong group of people build this organisation for it to have meaning, but this then needs our support.
London & Country (L&C)
L&C will be joining the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) and feels that the trade association can play a vital role in representing mortgage brokers, large and small, as mortgage regulation looms on the horizon.
While the beginnings of the Association, in the shape of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and Advisers (NAMBA), was met with some cynicism by intermediaries, the alliance with AIFA has been key in enhancing its profile and credibility. This will be vital in creating a successful trade association that has a strong voice capable of effective lobbying and representing the views of intermediaries throughout the UK.
Clearly the AMI must now push forward and grow the membership to build on the groundwork so that the association can get down to what really matters ‘ representing brokers throughout the country.
Park Row Independent Mortgages (PRIM)
I am not a big fan of trade bodies, but given that the Association of Financial Advisers (AIFA) has spotted a gap in the market for a dedicated mortgage intermediary trade body, we will probably look to join.
However, in advance of any triumphal rhetoric from the AMI it should bear in mind that its honeymoon period will be short and if it turns out to be yet another ‘promise all deliver nothing’ toothless trade body then members will leave in droves.
We will probably join because our industry does need a voice especially under the new Financial Services Authority (FSA) regime, but the voice needs to be well connected, respected and powerful otherwise it will be worthless.
The mortgage industry has not really had a strong trade body, unlike the IFA sector, so our scepticism is well founded; we will see how effective it can be over the next eighteen months in the run-up to full regulation.
For myself, I reserve judgement. PRIM will join but will not stay if the AMI does not deliver.
B & E Consulting
I would very much welcome a trade body for mortgage brokers. I am unsure whether AMI is truly focused in this regard, in that I believe our market needs a totally independent organisation that will represent our needs and concerns at the highest level. An organisation distracted by its own agenda, in my opinion is not what we need. I would only support a trade body that was truly focused.
Warners Financial Services
Our intention is to join this organisation. There is no other body out there competing to represent the views of mortgage advisers and now, more than ever, we need a trade body to put our views forward. We need a single voice at this time, given all the consultation papers being circulated that require responses. I am not convinced that, out here in the wilderness, my voice will be heard by the FSA. Add to this all the apathy out in the industry and we need a clear focus to get our points across.
I will support this new organisation despite what has occurred in the recent past with its well documented problems in trying to get off the ground and the personalities involved, because it now looks as if it will be run brokers’ interests to the fore.
Through my many years in the mortgage industry, I have become increasingly cynical of the benefits that trade associations claim to offer.
Many associations exist to make money out of their membership, rather than offering any tangible advantages. And, because we are working towards becoming directly regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), I feel that there is nothing that the AMI could offer us that we cannot obtain elsewhere.
If the Association was actively engaged in pursuing the same status for mortgage brokers as, say, lawyers enjoy, we would welcome and support their cause. However, unless this strategy is adopted, we have no need to become members. After all, given our size, we feel confident to handle all regulatory issues without external assistance. Moreover, we would be concerned that any such body should maintain an elite membership, and this aspect would need to be carefully policed by the Association.