Advice was the focus this week as readers had their say on the consequences of good or bad guidance.
The first comment came from Paul Fielding, who praised an adviser who helped a pensioner come into £132,800 by recommending an equity release.
He said: “Now that’s the kind of superb work by the adviser that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should applaud long and loudly in the public domain, as well as realising that all decent and hard-working advisers carry out this unseen pastoral care work on behalf of clients, every day.
“That said, well done Graeme for your diligence and for helping to enhance the standing of both yourself and your fellow like-minded advisers everywhere.”
Andy Wilson also had good things to say: “A lovely story for a change. Credit to the adviser for having the knowledge to realise something was amiss.
“On a similar vein, I once saw a lady about an equity release plan who was living on a state pension and a widows war pension. She had been denied a means tested pension credit payment because her income was too high.
“However, I explained war pensions are not taken into consideration for means testing. I drove her to the local weekly benefits drop-in centre, argued the point with the adviser, she made a claim, and two weeks later had confirmation she was entitled to £204 a month in additional income.
“This helped to mitigate the amount of equity release she needed to pull out of her property to meet her living costs.
“A good adviser will understand and have a good grasp of the benefits system and can see when something is not quite right. Helping clients doesn’t always mean making a sale.”
Going beyond advice remit
This week also showed us what can happen when advisers get things wrong, as Paul Smulovitch reacted to the analysis of Primis being fined £30k when a broker gave a client incorrect advice regarding stamp duty.
He said: “I think the issue here is some advisers are so worried about losing a client by not being ‘helpful’ that they go beyond their remit.
“If you think how a solicitor works, they put all the responsibility on the client. They specify that they should have a full structural survey and seek advice on everything as they don’t want any come back.
“Lenders do the same, passing all responsibility to the valuer and the solicitor. Brokers need to understand the importance of the right advice and professionalism and know that if they are doing the right thing then the client will not seek advice on mortgages elsewhere.”
Is the solicitor to blame?
In response to the original reporting of Primis being fined £30k, John S said: “The adviser has been stupid there is no doubting that but surely the solicitors will have discussed Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) with the clients before allowing the clients to enter a binding contract?
“If the solicitor did have the discussion, then the clients are not telling the truth to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and if the solicitor didn’t have the conversation with the clients then surely the solicitor is to blame?
“This is an example of FOS taking the easy option and as advisers we all pay for decisions like this. I am amazed the adviser community does not have more to say about this as one day it could be you or I on the end of a crazy decision like this.”
Huge opportunity for brokers
Lastly, Stuart Philips gave his opinion on L&G Mortgage Club’s suggestion that fewer customers should be placed with high street lenders.
He said: “There’s such a huge opportunity here for brokers in the future. Lending figures are not growing overall, and lenders are fighting for market share from each other, especially the big eight.
“At the same time there is a large segment of under-served clients such as the self employed, those with light adverse, older borrowers and such that smaller lenders have an appetite to help.
“The prime cases, remortgages and product transfers are probably going to be increasingly served through direct channels, by robo-advisers or on an execution-only basis which is a threat to the traditional broker.
“Brokers can remain relevant though, by increasing the number of positive outcomes for these unde-rserved clients. It needs to become much easier for us to place these cases and while tools like Knowledge Bank, Criteria Hub, BrokerSense, Mortgage Broker Tools etc are making this easier, but there’s still a huge gap here that could be filled.
“How do we better connect lenders who want to serve a niche with the customers who want a mortgage but feel they wouldn’t qualify with high street lenders?”