Mortgage intermediaries may feel as if the new rules and regulations imposed upon them by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will prove onerous, and are awaiting the final rules with some trepidation. But it now looks as if this is just the start of it.
The latest indication of further problems was seen at the beginning of the month with the publication by the FSA of its proposed interpretation of the European Direct Marketing Directive (DMD).
This directive is being imposed on all European nations, and will mean that many lenders and brokers who operate using the post, fax, internet and telephone (and who doesn’t) will have to change their working practices still further in order to remain compliant with the statutory regulation.
With most commentators fully expecting the influence of Europe to become stronger over the coming years, as the Government tries to manoeuvre the economy to be more in line with mainland Europe, it is clear that we can only expect further confusion and impositions on the working practices of the UK mortgage market in the future.
What advisers need at a time like this is clear guidance from the industry, but unfortunately it seems as if the situation is being made more perplexing as an increasing number of reports are being published that are making confusing and conflicting statements.
The disparity in reports between the average ages of first-time buyers is a prime example. If the figures from the Mortgage Advice Bureau are true then it reveals that despite the still increasing prices the housing market is in much better shape than many had thought, but we may be storing up affordability problems for the future.
And elsewhere, the proposal from the Government think tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) is no less significant. Its call for an increase in taxes on wealthy homeowners is worrying news for the health of the market, especially if this think tank is as influential as it claims. Interfering with the natural balance of the market is always dangerous and could do more harm than good.
Whatever happens in the news, the one constant for advisers is their own experience of the market, and this holds true for the imposition of statutory regulation too.
With just over a year to go before statutory regulation advisers do not have time to worry about what others are doing, and the only way to ensure success going forward is to ensure that individual businesses remain focused and flexible.
Ben Marquand, Editor