Mortgage complaints fall year-on-year – FOS

Mortgage complaints fall year-on-year – FOS

Some 28% of all claims were upheld.

Within this, 6,515 complaint cases related to first charge residential mortgages, where there was a 29% uphold rate. Some 8,098 enquiries about first charge residential mortgages were made to the FOS over the period.

Of the 1,002 enquiries made about buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages, there were 917 cases and 26% of complaints were upheld.

Some 358 cases about equity release were opened by the FOS, out of the 398 enquiries made. Some 23% of these complaints were upheld. Lifetime mortgages generated the most complaints within this part of the market, with 343 enquiries and 319 cases opened. Of these, 23% of complaints were upheld.

In April, the ombudsman forecast there would be a rise in mortgage complaints lodged with the service over the 2024/25 period due to the rise in interest rates and the maturity of initial periods.

 

Banking complaints soar to a 10-year high

Complaints about the banking sector are at their highest level in the last decade, as scams and fraud contribute to the surge.

More than 80,000 complaints relating to banking and payment products were received by the FOS in the 2023/24 financial year.

This is a big jump from the near 62,000 complaints received by the ombudsman in the previous year.

It said concerns about current accounts, credit cards, fraud and scams have driven the significant increase in complaints.

The most complained about product was current accounts, with 30,635 cases raised, up from 26,039 last year.

Meanwhile, 24,402 credit card complaints flooded in, of which 13,584 related to unaffordable or irresponsible lending.

Within the banking sector, it is investigating more fraud and scam complaints than ever before, having risen by a fifth in the latest financial year.

The FOS revealed these complaints are now at their highest level, with 27,312 received. Around half are related to authorised push payment (APP) scams, where an individual is tricked into sending money online to a fraudster posing as a genuine payee.

Elsewhere, the FOS revealed the other three categories in the top five most complained about products were hire purchase (motor), car/motorcycle insurance and conditional sale (motor), all of which saw year-on-year increases.

But, it added that it’s seeing case levels rise across the board, not just in banking, with nearly 200,000 new complaints recorded in 2023/24, compared to 165,000 in 2022/23.

The FOS added that on average, across all financial products, it upheld 37% of the complaints resolved, which is slightly higher than the 35% recorded in 2022/23.

Abby Thomas, chief executive and chief ombudsman of the FOS, said: “It’s always concerning when you see cases rise so significantly, particularly when so many people are struggling in the current economic climate.

“Whether someone is the victim of a fraud, struggling with credit card debt, or having issues with their overdraft, they deserve support and understanding from their financial provider.

“It is imperative that all businesses treat their customers fairly and in a timely manner. If consumers don’t feel they’ve been treated fairly, they should contact our free, independent service and we’ll investigate their complaint.”

 

Complaints by claims management companies

The ombudsman revealed that across all categories, it is seeing increasing levels of complaints brought by claims management companies (CMCs) and professional representatives.

In the latest financial year, they accounted for a quarter of all cases, up from 18% in the previous year.

The FOS said it had seen examples of both good and bad practice, including some firms that submit mass claims “without determining whether they have merit”. In other cases, they fail to respond to FOS requests for evidence, which slows down its investigations.

It reminded individuals that when using a CMC, if complaints are upheld, they can take a significant proportion of redress awarded. But cases can be taken directly to the ombudsman for free, meaning you get to keep the full compensation awarded.

In recent months, it has been consulting on a proposed up-to-£250 case fee (reduced to £75 if complaint upheld) for professional representatives, aiming to make the fee model fairer.

James Dipple-Johnstone, deputy chief ombudsman of the FOS, said while CMCs have an important role to play in resolving financial disputes, “they can also gain financially from our service without contributing to the running costs”.

He said: “There is sometimes little evidence of due diligence by some representatives to ensure claims they advance have merit.

“We are committed to making our service… as accessible as possible, while ensuring it remains free for all customers and that those with upheld complaints can keep all of any reward we make.

“Our proposed charges aim to ensure we cover the costs associated with resolving disputes while reflecting a fairer allocation of those costs.”

This article is based on one that first appeared on our sister site, YourMoney.com, here.

Family BS celebrates 10 years in business

Family BS celebrates 10 years in business

The Epsom-based mutual was established on 14 July 2014, and since then has more than doubled the amount lent to families and other borrowers to get them onto the property ladder. 

The Family Building Society has also seen savers double the money deposited with the mutual. 

Since launching to market, the mutual has increased its membership from just over 51,000 members to 63,000 in 2024.

It has received over 50 industry awards and volunteered 1,000 hours to local charities since launching its charity volunteer day for employees in 2017. 

The Family Building Society also launched its Windfall Bond in 2014, and to date has paid out more than £5.1m in prizes. 

In its 2023 results, Family Building Society posted an underlying group profit before tax of £20m, up from the previous year’s £16.4m. 

Mark Bogard (pictured), chief executive of Family Building Society, said: “When we started, I was a bit worried that some families really don’t like each other. But despite the inevitable tensions here and there, most families get along pretty well and know that they have to work together across the generations to help each other and make the most of their money. 

“Launching anything new is always pretty hairy and you just don’t know if it’ll succeed. We have succeeded. We have grown, got more customers, improved what we do and we still treat people as individuals, which is what they want, something that is getting rarer and rarer nowadays.”

He added: “Our biggest opportunity is that lots of people still haven’t heard of us.” 

This year, Family Building Society revealed its intention to launch a limited company offset buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage and the mutual has said there was “plenty of opportunity” in the later life lending market. 

Try Mortgage Network teams up with UnderwriteMe

Try Mortgage Network teams up with UnderwriteMe

The platform will be fully integrated into TMN’s client relationship management (CRM) provider, One Mortgage System (OMS).

Ian Merriman, head of recruitment at TMN, said: “UnderwriteMe’s Protection Platform allows our members to obtain underwritten quotes from multiple insurers for multiple products by completing one set of questions, saving our members, and clients, time and money.

“The system also offers a Defaqto comparison to gain more insight and to assist with compliance, while advisers are also able to go straight to application without re-keying data. It’s a vital tool for us and our business writers to ensure good customer outcomes.”

John Revill, sales development manager at UnderwriteMe, said that the protection platform was “growing rapidly, with more firms registering to use the platform on a daily basis”.

He added: “The uptake of the platform over the last few years has been great to see, and to add Try Mortgage Network to that list is testament to that growth.

“We’re proud to add TMN [to] the list of our partners, and with the OMS integration, we’re now able to place the protection platform in the heart of the advice process. This now makes it even easier to use and benefit from the real-time underwriting the Protection Platform offers. We look forward to working with Try Mortgage Network and their advisers to realise the full value the Protection Platform offers.”

Neal Jannels, managing director at OMS, added: “The integration of UnderwriteMe last December into our platform was implemented exactly because of such feedback from our users, who found them a fantastic option for their brokers to help them convert more protection business.”

Yorkshire Building Society calls for govt action with five pledges

Yorkshire Building Society calls for govt action with five pledges

The “Opportunities for Government” include helping first-time buyers by building new, green homes, upping the personal savings allowance, financial education for all primary school children in England, building a pipeline of high-quality skilled jobs outside London and helping mutuals and co-operatives grow.

The lender said that these have been communicated to MPs, and they are being shared in its regular meetings and events with politicians.

On the first-time buyer front, Yorkshire Building Society said that the UK housing market is “broken” and the supply of homes for purchase and rent is not meeting the population’s need.

The lender urged the government to “introduce policies that provide a place to call home: support the provision of new, sustainable homes, help people to make their homes sustainable and help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder”.

Yorkshire Building Society said that personal savings allowance limits were “no longer protecting ordinary savers’ interests”, and this has not been reviewed since 2016. It called on this to be increased from £1,000 to £5,000.

The mutual also urged financial education to be offered at primary school so children have good financial management skills and develop healthy financial habits.

The firm also urged the government to work with the financial and professional services sector, regional combined authorities and education organisations to “collectively address the skills challenges the sector faces”.

 

Govt ‘must build a level playing field for mutual organisations’

Yorkshire Building Society added that the government must support a “thriving mutual and co-operative sector” and “must build a level playing field for mutual organisations” and create a role for a minister for the mutual sector.

Susan Allen (pictured), chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, said: “Our customers continue to face challenges such as the affordability of housing, higher mortgage rates and cost-of-living pressures.

“As a mutual, we are owned by our members and are committed to supporting them and helping them achieve important life goals.

“Supporting homeownership is at the heart of who we are as a building society. I welcome the government’s commitment to housebuilding, but they must ensure the homes of the future are sustainable and help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

“Our research shows that, if the government makes improvements in the areas we’ve highlighted, it will make a real difference to people’s lives. Building a habit of saving regularly and owning a home can significantly improve people’s financial and mental wellbeing .”

Exclusive: Quilter brings on Jenson as regional director of mortgage network

Exclusive: Quilter brings on Jenson as regional director of mortgage network

In her role, Jenson will be responsible for recruiting and onboarding mortgage and protection advisers for Quilter’s mortgage network and will report to Charlotte Nixon, proposition and distribution director at Quilter Financial Planning.

Jenson joins from Primis Mortgage Network, where she worked as a regional sales director for around six years. Before that, she was a regional director at Intrinsic Financial Services for nearly six years.

She also worked as a regional sales manager at Personal Touch Financial Services for almost two years and was a sales manager at Legal and General for around 15 years.

Nixon said: “We’re really pleased to welcome Victoria back to the team. She played a pivotal role in driving business when she was previously with us over six years ago. In her new role, she will help us further grow our mortgage network so more advisers have access to our market-leading proposition.

“This hire is the next step in the considerable investment we have made into growing our mortgage network. We remain committed to bringing new advisers into the industry and helping them progress in the profession.”

Jenson added: “I’m incredibly excited to be re-joining Quilter Financial Planning. Its flexible and broad proposition make it a great home for advisers, whatever route they want to take their careers in. I am looking forward to helping advisers take advantage of the many benefits of being part of Quilter’s mortgage network.”

Quilter has been growing its team, hiring Craig Ross as its adviser propositions head earlier this year.

Top 10 most read mortgage broker stories this week – 12/07/2024

Top 10 most read mortgage broker stories this week – 12/07/2024

Mortgage Solutions’ exclusive reporting that Brad Fordham will take on the role of interim managing director of home buying and ownership was among most read by brokers this week, along with our interview with Mark Bullard about NatWest’s plan going forward.

Insight from Rob Oliver outlining why brokers should examine the expat market also proved popular with broker readers.

 

Exclusive: Fordham steps up as NatWest’s interim MD of home buying and ownership

NatWest is evolving BDM teams and looking at BTL, new build and large loans

 

Hobbs to become CEO of New Leaf Distribution

 

Watch the video highlights from the British Mortgage Awards 2024

 

Virgin launches retrofit mortgages with up to £15k cashback

 

MAOE 2024: Nearly a fifth of mortgage administrators work overtime every day

 

Metro Bank revisits mortgage portfolio sale – report

 

‘Decisive reform’ needed in planning system, Chancellor Reeves says

 

Nationwide lowers fixed rates; Santander updates product transfer policy – round-up

 

 

Why brokers should be looking at the expat market – Oliver

Average mortgage rates drop modestly week-on-week – Rightmove

Average mortgage rates drop modestly week-on-week – Rightmove

The Rightmove weekly mortgage tracker revealed that the average two-year fixed rate came to 5.35% on 11 July, down from an average of 5.37% last week. The average five-year fixed mortgage rate also fell marginally from 4.99% to 4.97%. 

Both averages were lower than rates seen a year ago, when the average two-year fix was 6.42% and the average five-year fixed rate was 5.91%. 

 

Mortgage rate changes at LTV tiers 

As of 11 July, Rightmove’s data found the average two-year fixed mortgage rate for a 60% loan to value (LTV) deal was 4.78%, while the five-year fixed rate came to 4.35%. 

This compared to averages of 4.82% and 4.39% last week respectively. A year ago, the average rates came to 6.24% and 5.78%. 

At 75% LTV, the average two-year fixed rate fell from 5.22% to 5.18% week-on-week, while the average five-year fixed rate dropped from 4.86% to 4.82%. 

This time last year, the averages were 6.24% for a two-year fix and 5.73% for a five-year fix. 

The average two-year fixed rate at 85% LTV sat at 5.36% on 11 July, down from 5.38% last week, while the average five-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.97% compared to 4.99%. 

Both averages were lower than the respective rates of 6.4% and 5.9% last year. 

At 90% LTV, the average two-year fixed rate declined from 5.65% to 5.63% over the week, while the average five-year fixed rate dropped from 5.16% to 5.14%. Last year, the averages were 6.51% and 5.99% respectively. 

The average two-year fixed rate for a deal at 95% LTV was 6.12% and the average five-year fixed rate was 5.67%. The average five-year fixed mortgage rate was flat on last week, while the average two-year fixed rate had fallen from 6.11%. 

These were down from the respective average rates of 6.93% and 6.23% a year ago. 

Rightmove calculated that the typical monthly mortgage payment on a first-time buyer property worth £227,757 with a five-year fix at 85% LTV over a 25-year term would be £1,128, down from £1,128 a year ago. 

A third of homebuyers want better access to long-term fixed mortgages – Bloomberg Intelligence

A third of homebuyers want better access to long-term fixed mortgages – Bloomberg Intelligence

The Bloomberg Intelligence survey of 1,000 people found that although respondents desired this, just 8% were willing to take out a 10-year fix now. 

The firm suggested this could be because of the high level of rates rather than an unwillingness to lock in a rate for a long period. 

Bloomberg Intelligence said what respondents wanted was at odds with the government’s plans around homeownership, as just 26% said they wanted to see more support for first-time buyers. 

Just a quarter said they wanted the government to build more homes. 

These sentiments go against Labour’s proposed plans for the housing market, which includes the building of one-and-a-half million homes and the Freedom to Buy initiative, which will see the mortgage guarantee scheme made permanent. 

There was more support for a stamp duty cut and grants for energy-efficiency improvements, as shown by the 45% and 28% of respondents respectively who wanted to see the government bring these in. 

Iwona Hovenko, senior real estate analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said: “Almost half of respondents in our survey seek a cut in stamp duty from the government, but we don’t see this as likely in the near term. The desire was strongest among movers and buyers in Southern England, due to disproportionately high taxes on pricier homes.” 

 

Homebuyers adjusting to higher rates 

Bloomberg Intelligence’s survey suggested that buyers were getting used to higher mortgage rates and going ahead with purchases. 

Some 37% of respondents said their buying plans were unchanged, compared to 29% in February. 

The firm said this would support housing activity and housebuilder sales. 

However, the poll did reveal that buyers were worried about house prices rising, as this was the most cited concern by people who had brought purchase plans forward. 

There was a decline in the share of buyers waiting for rates to fall before going ahead with purchases, dropping from 35% of respondents in February who cited this as a reason to delay to 28% in June. 

The high cost of living was the main reason people were putting off buying a home, as identified by 30% of respondents. This compared to 27% who named this as a reason in February. 

When asked what the biggest hurdles to buying a home were, 57% of respondents said high house prices, 45% named increased mortgage rates, and a third said stamp duty costs. 

Some 23% said a lack of homes to buy was a barrier to purchasing, while 22% cited the “stressful” process. 

Hovenko added: “Buyers getting used to high rates and proceeding with purchases as planned may support housing activity and sales of homebuilders, who’re dependent on wider housing market sentiment, given new builds account for only about 15% of annual transactions.

“That’s as a growing proportion of our survey respondents said in June that their buying plans were unchanged, more than offsetting the decrease in the share of those who brought their plans forward. Notably, though, the fear of further price rises was by far the most often cited reason for respondents who brought their plans forward.” 

The biggest changes with Consumer Duty have already happened – analysis

The biggest changes with Consumer Duty have already happened – analysis

When asked how mortgage lenders were preparing for the duty to be applied to closed book products by 31 July and how this might affect the market, Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage and housing policy at the Building Societies Association (BSA), said: “The big systems and process changes to reflect the requirements of the Consumer Duty vis-à-vis lenders and brokers happened last year, when the duty came into force for all on-sale products and services.”

He added: “Lenders are now overlaying the same principles to their back-book products.” 

A spokesperson for TSB reiterated this, saying: “We are fully compliant with Consumer Duty requirements and have been engaging with our intermediary partners over the course of the implementation.” 

A Barclays spokesperson said: “Ensuring customers receive good outcomes is something that Barclays strives to deliver. 

“Consumer Duty has provided a useful framework and is something that we have put significant effort into implementing over the last two years. As a result, we don’t expect there to be major changes to our offering on 31 July, as many of our updates have already been implemented.” 

Broadhead there would be little impact on a mortgage broker’s role, as they would mostly be dealing with on-sale products. 

He said: “Lenders already have processes and systems in place to communicate with brokers and ensure they remain updated on products, pricing and criteria, which will continue.

“We continue to liaise regularly with both lenders and brokers, and have not heard of any concerns or issues regarding the closed book deadline next month.” 

Brian Pitt, chief executive at Rockstead, said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had not given regulated prescriptive information on Consumer Duty, and rather it had been “based on principles”. 

“It’s an extension of Treating Customers Fairly principles, more than anything,” he said, echoing the views of Broadhead. 

 

Financial market considerations 

Considering how this could affect the transacting of mortgage portfolios, Pitt said sellers would need to ensure they were giving buyers as much information as possible on how they were treating customers. 

He said purchasers acquiring a mortgage portfolio would need to make sure what the seller told them was appropriate and correct. 

Pitt said buyers needed to apply Consumer Duty on an ongoing basis from the point of sale. 

He added: “The information that the buyer needs includes understanding how the product was designed in the first place; the basis on which it’s been assessed.” 

 

Spirit of Consumer Duty running through a firm 

Pitt said buyers also needed to confirm practices complied with fair value expectations, although the FCA’s definition was “vague”. 

He said: “Consumer Duty needs to be embedded in firms. It’s got to be that everybody employed understands the rules and their responsibilities.” 

It was good to have policies in place, Pitt said, but firms also needed “practical examples” and “a definition of fair value [that] applies across the life of the product and length of the relationship with the client”. 

He said that could be a challenge. 

The FCA is expecting firms to have policies and principles in place, while also going further with evidence of how they monitor Consumer Duty within their firm, Pitt suggested. 

He said Rockstead had come across “great policies” at certain firms, but in some cases they had been “stuck on a shelf, [with] no proper application of them at the coal face”. 

“In order for people to avoid regulatory attention, it’s quite critical that firms conduct external assessments,” Pitt added. 

Pitt said it was too easy for firms to “check their own homework and come up with the right answers”. 

He said what would change would be the application of the evidence of how lenders are monitoring ongoing responsibilities. 

The FCA will look for evidence of this in spot checks, reviews and quality assessments. 

“Although it complies with Consumer Duty in principle, they [also] need to be evidencing it in practice,” he added. 

 

Applying new standards to old practices 

Pitt said it would not be feasible for lenders to view legacy mortgage accounts through a Consumer Duty lens, but acknowledged that some “trapped” customers such as mortgage prisoners were paying higher rates than others. 

He added: “If I’m buying a mortgage portfolio, I can’t go back and change the terms that those people signed up to.

“You can’t really go back and say the standards that apply today must apply to what happened in the past. But what you can do is look at characteristics of particular groups. Did it meet the principles at the time? Clearly the market changes all the time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help mortgage prisoners.” 

However, for those acquiring a mortgage portfolio, Pitt said they could make a “judgement call” on how to integrate any new borrowers into their new or existing portfolio. 

“They need to be considering that. What they can’t do is continue to just isolate that one group of borrowers and continue to disadvantage them. What they have to do is carefully think about how they will deal with the customer going forward,” Pitt added. 

 

Impact on funding lines and specialist lenders 

When asked if Consumer Duty could change how some lenders approached financing smaller and specialist lenders who may not be regulated, Pitt said it was already standard practice to ensure the lender being funded “does what it says on the tin”, by carrying out appropriate due diligence. 

He said this might include factors such as their credit policy and how they complied with other regulations. 

Pitt said regardless of whether a specialist lender was regulated or not, “the FCA was likely to want to see the principles applied more broadly” in relation to its principles of business. 

He said these considerations already overrode most existing measures. 

Pitt said some unregulated products like buy to let (BTL) would fall “in a completely different category”, but the FCA would still look at the firm as a complete entity and determine if unregulated products were treated differently.

“As a business, that mortgage company would probably want to apply the same rules to everything,” Pitt said. 

HTB adds four to bridging team

HTB adds four to bridging team

Nathan Wilson joins HTB as a senior underwriter for its bridging team and will build relationships with key partners and help the division grow its business volume and develop new products.

Wilson has spent the last 10 years at United Trust Bank (UTB) and was the first winner of the Benson Hersch Memorial Bursary from the Bridging and Development Lenders Association.

Olivia Colmer Lunch will take on the role of senior lending manager for bridging, in which she will oversee the processing team and manage communication between sales and underwriting within the department.

She has worked at HTB for around five years, initially joining as a loan administrator and working her way up to lending manager.

Ella Hosier will be a lending manager for bridging and Barry Ireland will be a business development manager (BDM) for the South East and Midlands in the bridging division.

Hosier was formerly at MT Finance as a case manager for around two years, and before that, she was at Masthaven Bank for around four years.

Ireland was most recently at Castle Trust Bank for around two years, and before that, he was a BDM at Apex Bridging for around a year.

Jamie Jolly, director of bridging at HTB, said: “A very warm welcome to Nathan, Olivia, Ella and Barry, a huge amount of talent, quality and experience joining the bridging team here at HTB.

“We constantly strive to be better and have strong lines of communication with our broker partners; we listen to feedback and we act on it. Having access to commercially minded and proactive teams is crucial.

“We’ve established a terrific reputation within the bridging market for providing a peerless level of service, and that’s because of our people.”

He added: “With the addition of Nathan, Olivia, Ella and Barry, we are continuing to build out a dedicated team of bridging specialists, enabling us to deliver for an even greater number of brokers and borrowers.

“Growing demand for bridging finance needs to be matched with lenders that can grow effortlessly too, with the right people, and these four new recruits are how we’ll do just that.”

The firm has been growing its team, appointing Anthony Gorman as BDM for the North in its bridging team.