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We must be vigilant to prevent a mental health crisis in our industry, says AMI chair

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  • 17/06/2024
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We must be vigilant to prevent a mental health crisis in our industry, says AMI chair
The sector must be alert to possible mental health crises as mortgage brokers continue to face challenges, Andrew Montlake, chair of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said.

Giving his speech at the annual AMI dinner last Thursday in his fourth year as chair, Montlake spoke about the impact of Consumer Duty on intermediaries.

He said the time and cost of implementing Consumer Duty had left some businesses “stretched and worried about what they will need to report on”, adding he hoped the regulator only targeted the bad firms and not those “striving to do their best”.

He said brokers told him there were issues with the way some lenders were interpreting the rules, but he supported them “clamping down on those charging unrealistically high fees”.

However, Montlake added: “Lenders doing the regulator’s job and policing broker fees more generally based on product type, without considering location, seniority, or case specifics, is a step too far. This approach risks leading us towards price-setting, and restricting consumer choice.

“Will we eventually see products only available to brokers who charge no fee, or those dictating a fixed fee of £500?”

Some brokers said they were frustrated that they were the ones who always had to “give way”, especially as they dealt with rising costs and decreasing income, he added.

Montlake said it was good for brokers to vent and noted he had “observed more mental health issues, angst, and frustration in our industry over the past 18 months than in the previous decade”.

“We must be vigilant to prevent a mental health crisis in our industry, which could result in losing talented individuals. The Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter [MIMHC] plays a crucial role in this, and I urge all businesses – both brokers and lenders – to sign up and take care of their talent.

“Together, we can ensure a healthier, more resilient industry,” he added.

 

‘An honour’ to work with outgoing CEO Sinclair

Montlake also paid tribute to the AMI team and Robert Sinclair, chief executive, who announced he would be retiring at the end of the year.

Montlake said the team made his job as AMI chair “so very easy”.

He added: “Stacey, Chloe, Rachel, and Clair are all individually brilliant, and as a team awesome, with the rambunctious Robert directing operations with expert precision.

“Actually, I looked up rambunctious after I used that word to check it was the right one and the definition said, ‘difficult to control or handle; wildly boisterous: a rambunctious child – turbulently active and noisy: a social gathering that became rambunctious and out of hand’. Ah, that’s our Robert.

“In all seriousness, it is an honour to work with Robert, someone I have always admired, who is caring and considerate, articulate, intelligent, someone you always want in your corner and a good friend.”

 

D&I work ‘not yet done’

Montlake also spoke about diversity and inclusion (D&I), saying the work was not yet done after hearing some people say D&I was “not needed or has been done now” and people needed to “move on, we have D&I fatigue”. 

“Well, let me tell you, we have only just scratched the surface.” 

Montlake added: “Whilst there is one person who doesn’t advance because of the colour of their skin, gender or social background, there is work to be done.

“Whilst there is one person who decides not to go to an industry event because they don’t want to face derogatory comments, sexual advances or cheap gags at their expense, there is work to be done. 

“Whilst there is one person who doesn’t feel they can be themselves in the workplace because of their sexuality or background, there is work to be done.

“Whilst there is one person who is ridiculed by ancient stereotypes or castigated for the actions of others just because of their religion, there is work to be done.

“Whilst there is one woman who does not feel safe amongst our own industry, there is work to be done. 

“We will do this work, however long it takes.” 

He said to anyone behaving in this way or who thought D&I was “bollocks” that “I do not want you representing the industry I love. You are no longer welcome at our events”. 

Montlake added: “I don’t care how much business you write or how self-important you think you are or whatever your lofty title.” 

He said D&I was a “journey” and felt the mortgage sector could be a “shining light”, so did not want to lose the “passion and drive”. 

Montlake added: “We will do this work, however long it takes.” 

AMI is set to publish a follow-up report into its study on D&I in the mortgage sector later this year. 

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