The specialist finance market is poised for further growth as more consumers recognise the flexibility and versatility the products offer and, as a result, will be more likely to approach their mortgage brokers to enquire about such sectors.
We’re already seeing an increase in the attention these industries receive in the mainstream media and I’ve noticed more advertising from specialists in the field which will only further drive consumer demand.
Brokers will clearly have to respond to this so I’m sure 2019 will be a good year for the market.
However, there is one issue I foresee becoming a topic of conversation – the role of the Ombudsman.
Develop sharper teeth
According to reports earlier this year one broker firm saw a whopping 95% of complaints against it upheld by the Ombudsman.
Now, this was quite an extreme case with the regulator asking the firm to contact its customers and make them aware they may not have received the correct advice.
But I think, this case aside, we may well see the Ombudsman develop sharper teeth in 2019.
There has been a continuing theme of consumer protection across many industries this year with the government consulting on everything from letting agent fees to the leasehold system and this will no doubt continue next year.
Risk of falling foul
While the vast majority of brokers are upstanding, experienced individuals, I think there is a fear that some may be at risk of falling foul of the Ombudsman without even realising it simply because they have not refined their processes in line with regulatory changes.
Brokers who are advising on a remortgage when an alternative may have been more suitable, for example, may be at risk.
Then of course there are the issues of interest-only loans and debt consolidation which are somewhat grey areas, open to misinterpretation.
More recently large unregulated business loans have fallen under the scope of the Ombudsman which opens up more opportunities for significant claims.
I believe next year will be largely positive for the industry but, whether your business activity is regulated or not, history tells us the Ombudsman will generally favour the borrower.
So be prepared to prove your innocence with good records and clear declarations of the scope and costs of your service.