What is your background in the mortgage industry?
I began with Barclays Bank, then took a degree in education and taught for a while. In 1983 I joined the Gateway Building Society as a trainee branch manager, and after the merger with Woolwich in 1988 I became district manager for the East of Scotland.
With Woolwich I moved around the country in various regional management positions and from 1995 to 1998 I was regional manager for London. In 1998, I was offered the opportunity with City Financial Group to set up a mortgage brokerage, and set up what became 20:20 mortgages. I am currently the managing director of One Mortgage Solution, which is part of the DPK group.
What can you say about NAMBA’s controversial beginning?
One of the things that has concerned us since setting up the steering committee in January is that there has been a lot of bad press about how NAMBA was formed and by whom. Frankly this is an area that has been done to death. When NAMBA was formed it was to be a small association, effectively to canvas the views and build up an association that represents the views of individual mortgage advisers. Then it became clear towards the end of 2001 there was a need for a bigger organisation within the industry. This came to a head with December’s announcement by the Treasury, which is when NAMBA began.
I have been asked on numerous occasions when NAMBA would officially launch, but it already exists, and has done for over a year. NAMBA is still the only body that is looking to represent the views of, and give a voice to, the individual mortgage adviser and broker.
You have been surveying intermediaries on their views of how their business will be affected by regulation, and canvassing for membership. How is that going?
As far as membership is concerned we are averaging between 45 and 50 responses a day, and we are continuing to send out questionnaires. It has always been our intention that before the end of June we would be releasing our members’ and brokers’ views on how they will be affected by regulation and what they think is happening in the industry.
One of the most important things is how we take this trade body forward. The reason why we are talking to a number of other organisations is to see where we will be positioned towards the end of the year. I have agreed with these bodies and organisations not to reveal their names ‘ the timing of this is quite crucial because we have various meetings in place over the next couple of weeks, and it must remain confidential.
Is NAMBA already dealing with the FSA on regulation? Are you already consulting?
We have spoken to a number of bodies and expressed our opinions, but we didn’t want to express the opinions of just one or two people on a committee, hence the reason for canvassing the views of members and interested parties. It is then our intention to write to both the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority with our findings. This is a consultation period and nobody can be 100% sure what will come out of it, but we feel there is still a window of opportunity at the moment, though not a large one I admit. However, we have to make sure that if we are giving our views, it is the view of the membership.
After 2004, do you think there will be significantly fewer mortgage intermediaries operating in the market?
There is a belief that polarisation may have an impact on new mortgage regulation for IFAs, in terms of whether they will have to be authorised, or whether they will have to work with a panel or not. The bottom line is that there will be small firms that will look at the regulations and what is required of them. One of two routes will then be taken ‘ they will either become introducers to specialist mortgage brokers, or will join a mortgage club or network.
I think outsourcing is set to grow right across the industry and I firmly believe the number of players that will be involved in placing mortgage business with lenders in the future will reduce, but those left in the market will deal with higher volumes.
Intermediaries are an integral part of lenders’ distribution systems. In excess of 50% of all mortgages are generated through intermediaries, and some lenders rely solely on intermediaries, particularly in the niche markets, sub-prime or buy to let. I believe there will be a new breed of mortgage broker that will evolve, offering a fully compliant service dealing directly with clients or with other introducers, but packaging that business to the lenders and reducing the amount of administration and processing for lenders.
Paul Robertson is a staff writer