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IMLA dinner: Chairman John Heron’s speech

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  • 21/09/2012
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IMLA dinner: Chairman John Heron’s speech
John Heron, chairman of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) discussed the key challenges ahead for both intermediaries and lenders at the trade body's annual dinner in London last night.

“Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, IMLA members and distinguished guests.

This event has always been about meeting up with old friends and making new ones, generally a relaxed and informal affair. I will try not spoil that by going on for too long in my opening remarks.

IMLA is genuinely different, it is a member driven trade association, run by members for members. The board comprises of volunteers from the membership who give their time generously to work on the policy priorities identified by the wider membership. We do not seek to replicate or compete with other trade bodies in the sector, rather we look to complement the work of the CML, AMI, BSA and BBA and we are grateful for the support we get from these bodies, the CML and AMI in particular in shaping a collaborative and coherent approach to representing our industry.

The core purpose of IMLA is to provide a forum for senior management from intermediary lenders to discuss the key issues as they see them in the market today. Through this process we establish a programme of policy objectives that we pursue through regular contact with government, regulators and other trade bodies.

At the very centre of our policy is a belief that a consumer who takes mortgage advice will be better served than one who does not, or one who is simply sold to. We believe that better products and services result from lenders and mortgage advisers working together, products that are competitive, products that are innovative and products that reduce the potential for consumer detriment. Furthermore we believe that an industry where lenders, advisers and our regulator are fully aligned to stamp out poor and fraudulent practice is a good outcome for all.

It is not so long ago that our individual and collective objective was very simple: survival. Having survived, however, we have found ourselves in a very changed world. Economic growth and consumer confidence remain at low levels, housing transactions and mortgage lending have not improved since the financial crisis struck. Regulatory change in response to the crisis is ongoing and appropriately challenging on behalf of a society that is demanding a safer and better behaved financial services industry.

In this maelstrom of today’s market therefore our priority has been to make sure we understand the key challenges our members face, inform these through original IMLA research and make sure member’s views are presented where they have an opportunity to influence and inform the development of policy and regulation. We do this through regular meetings with the Treasury, the FSA, the BoE and occasional meetings with other government departments. We work with other trade associations and do our best to ensure where possible that we carry a consensus at an industry level.

And what can we achieve through all this? Well we cannot turn back the tide and that is not our intent. However, if we represent your interests in a credible and dignified manner we do get a hearing and what we see as a result is a more balanced, better informed and better designed approach.

Furthermore, if we consistently offer a sound and well informed view on the market, those in positions of authority will seek our views on areas of difficulty which will help deliver better regulation and the best outcome for the consumer, the adviser and the lender.

This year we have relaunched IMLA research as a means of informing our views and this has helped us explain to government what the developments are in our market, what challenges we face and what the future may look like. We have used this research in the Home Funding Forum, with the Treasury, The Bank of England and the FSA.

Can I thank all the intermediaries and lenders who have contributed to this and encourage you to continue to do so, it is vital to us in supporting your interests. In the world of regulation our focus has been primarily on MMR and EMD. We have lobbied in Brussels and Westminster and had many long and productive meetings with our friends at the FSA. We genuinely believe that what we are seeing as a result is a balanced outcome that lenders can work with.

There remain challenges ahead. The individual registration of mortgage advisers is a critical step that we must take in order to protect the integrity of our industry. As financial markets recover we need to explore with the regulator how we can develop safe products for non-standard borrowers. Most of all we must play our part in reinvigorating growth, in providing solutions that help hard pressed consumers to realise their ambition of home ownership and provide a greater supply of better quality homes in the PRS for those who cannot or do not want to buy. I am pleased to report that IMLA is in a better position to do this than has ever been the case before.

The growth we have seen in membership means that we represent the overwhelming majority of intermediary mortgage lending and we count amongst our members banks large and small, a strong contingent from the building society movement and a fair number of non-bank specialists. What makes us unique is the quality of senior expert representation from our members who inform our debates and promote our issues.

I would like thank the IMLA management committee that have overseen the recovery and rejuvenation of IMLA. Tony Ward, your deputy chairman, Charles Haresnape at Aldermore, David Finlay at Barclays and Richard Tugwell at Virgin Money. Particular thanks go to Peter Williams our executive director and Pat Gauntlett at the CML who between them somehow make sure that we stay on track. Our thanks also go to Kent Reliance, Legal & General, Mortgage Solutions and Sesame Bankhall Valuations Services who have generously sponsored this evenings’ event and who by doing so have contributed materially to the work of IMLA. Finally thanks also go to the CML events team especially Catherine Spence and Matilda Baker who have worked with us to deliver this evening’s event.”

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