With the publication of the final rules for the regulation of mortgage sales last month, there has been a noticeable upturn in activity from firms proposing to set themselves up as principal firms.
Whether this is entirely due to the final clarification of the statutory rules by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), or is also as a result of the growing number of reports that are suggesting the majority of advisers are coming around to the idea of direct authorisation is not clear. What is clear is that the mortgage press is inundated with proposals from firms wishing to set up as principal firms with each claiming to be the most innovative, the easiest to use, the best for compliance, and to have the widest offering.
Admittedly a number of firms have come up with unique responses and, if they can successfully gain FSA authorisation next year, should be able to carve a decent niche for themselves in the market post-Mortgage Day. However, what is becoming clear is that over the last few months there have been a number of firms that appear to be paying little more than lip service to the idea of becoming a principal. While they have leapt onto the network bandwagon they have provided little in terms of concrete proposals and are doing little in the way of gearing themselves up to provide the substance behind the bluster.
Over the coming months we can expect the claims from networks to become louder, and those who are planning to become an appointed representative will have to look long and hard before committing to one firm. This is not to say that there are not a lot of good propositions out there, but when everyone starts shouting at once it can be hard to hear who is telling you what you need to hear.
Ben Marquand, editor