The latest Mortgage Solutions poll asked brokers whether they thought there should be specialist licensing for the buy-to-let (BTL) market, following news of MAB’s trial preparations.
The results showed that over half, or 58.1% of respondents did not think brokers should have a licence at the firm level, with 33.3% supporting, and 8.5% unsure.
More important than ever
Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco supported the need for such a licence.
“Given the increasing complexity of the BTL market, tax and underwriting changes, it is more important than ever that clients are able to deal with brokers who have experience and specialist knowledge in this area,” said Montlake.
He continued: “It therefore make sense that those wishing to advise on this have a speciliast BTL licence, which is something that will help to further professionalise this section of the industry, and encourage more landlords to get some much-needed advice.”
The new norm
Jane Benjamin, head of relationship management at Sesame Bankhall Group said: “Brokers now require increasing knowledge to advise on BTLs.
“Complex advice is now the norm, which includes an awareness of BTL, too. Otherwise we risk narrowing our broker market and that could lead to a depleted broker community long-term.
“The ‘unsure’ category is of more concern, as it is important for mortgage brokers to understand their capabilities in order to deliver the best customer outcomes.”
While advisers are training to give more specialised advice, Benjamin added that expert assistance is available – at least in the interim.
“There is more to do for the whole market,” she continued, “In the meantime, specialist BTL master brokers are the heroes of the day, stepping up where necessary to support the market and bridge the knowledge gap.”
“The days of the purely transactional mortgage broker are well and truly gone,” Benjamin added.
David Whittaker, chief executive officer of Mortgage for Business, found it unsurprising that many brokers disagreed with the idea of a specialist license, but said it is a prudent move given the regulatory developments.
Whittaker said: “Most brokers would see having to be licensed as costly and time-consuming – yet another action to fit into their busy lives.
“However, advising and brokering BTL mortgage deals is becoming ever-more specialised.
“Having a voluntary qualification in this field might be the way forward in the near future. Although, in principle I’m not against it becoming mandatory at some point.”
But Whittaker said that the idea also raises a host of questions surrounding industry-wide and not just firm-targeted implementation, like the MAB plans.
Top level questions would need answering, such as who would devise the qualification or license, and who would fund its development and operation.
The granular details would also need fleshing out, such as how much it might cost for a broker to qualify, how long it would be valid for, whether there would be mandatory CPD requirements each year, or whether equivalent qualifications would be necessary for lenders to ensure parity of knowledge.
Any new qualifications, suggested Whittaker, could be a new module of CeMAP – which might need reviewing in its entirety to accommodate the scope of recent changes – or sit under the remit of the NACFB.
He continued: “The entire topic is one which needs to be discussed by the industry – lenders, brokers, and the FCA sitting around a table agreeing a way forward.
“What is certain, is somebody would need to take ownership of the idea and drive it to a successful outcome – one that would be acceptable to and implemented by all parties.”