‘We just want something simple that works’ – Montlake on BTL technology

‘We just want something simple that works’ – Montlake on BTL technology

He said the sheer variety of the formats of landlord spreadsheets is an important factor.

“When you get a spreadsheet from a landlord, it’s in so many different formats. One landlord’s format that makes complete sense to them will not make sense to another.”

He said: “To get that information easily from spreadsheet to lender system is where the complexities lie in the different fields. So, it’s about trying to find a system that works, where it can take that information, read it properly and input that into the system. Or find a system that the broker could develop to help them actively manage that portfolio rather than just a spreadsheet. There are people developing those things all the time.”

Montlake said: “I get a call almost every other day about another tech system, and it’s hard for us to know which one to use, which one do we back, which one are lenders going to accept, which one are compliance going to accept. It’s quite difficult.”

Victoria Hartley, contributing editor at Mortgage Solutions, said beyond networks and clubs approved or preferred systems, there’s also the ‘best’ system, so asked Montlake how he juggles these factors.

“A lot of networks’ systems aren’t set up to deal with more complex, semi-commercial deals. There are some new systems coming out – One Mortgage System (OMS) has got that – so I think things will start to change as this level of business becomes more important to brokers as it is at the moment. We’re starting to see networks and clubs looking at ways to pull it all together.”

 

Paragon Banking Group platform launch

On Paragon’s new platform, expected to soft launch in Q3, Louisa Sedgwick, Paragon Banking Group’s commercial director, said broker and landlord feedback has been key to its development and ability to service complex deals.

Sedgwick said: “We think we’ve got it right. But the brilliant thing is, because we own it internally, it can be very agile, so if we haven’t got it right, we can make those changes and won’t have to wait in a queue to do so.”

She added: “And we’ll continuously talk to brokers, and if they don’t like it, we’ll change it, because we can adapt it to suit. It’s exciting because it is built for Paragon and its customers.”

 

 

Watch the first three debates in the series here on reasons to be positive about the landlord market, the rise of the limited company and opportunities for the buy-to-let (BTL) market in 2024.

 

Tax time lag drove market swing to limited company structures – Paragon

Tax time lag drove market swing to limited company structures – Paragon

In the second part of our buy-to-let (BTL) debate series, in association with Paragon Banking Group, Louisa Sedgwick (pictured), commercial director for mortgages at Paragon, said the ‘staged’ introduction of the tax changes for landlords led to the time lag in buyers committing to a limited company structure.

A survey of 400 landlords conducted by Paragon in November last year showed 73% of landlords are planning to buy their next property in a limited company structure.

“Landlords weren’t initially hit by any of the changes until three or four years, even, into the cycle. In the meantime, they would have bought into a fixed rate on a lower rate to what we’ve seen recently.”

She continued: “You’ve also got landlords that may well be with a more mainstream buy-to-let lender who don’t offer limited companies, and because of the interest rate increases and affordability challenges, they’ve had no option but to retain their mortgages with their existing lender.”

It’s been a feature of timing, with more and more coming through the system as opposed to people making a march into limited company structures, she added.

Last year, 50,000 special purpose vehicles (SPVs) were registered under a limited company structure, largely driven by newer landlords.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco Mortgage Brokers, said professionalisation in the landlord space has also occurred in the broker space after many years of hard-earned experience.

“We’re much more adept now at understanding that relationship with the landlord and what we need as brokers to advise that landlord properly. You cannot advise a landlord now unless you have that tax advice discussion at the very start.”

Once an advice route or referral onwards has been established, that’s the start point for the discussion, said Montlake.

 

Watch the first part in our debate series, featuring Louisa Sedgwick and Andrew Montlake, which ran earlier this week, focusing on the many reasons for landlords to be cheerful and the debate surrounding product transfer fees.

BTL ‘still very profitable market’ due to strong demand and yields – Paragon

BTL ‘still very profitable market’ due to strong demand and yields – Paragon

Louisa Sedgwick, commercial director for mortgages at Paragon Banking Group, a BTL specialist lender, said that there is a “supply and demand mismatch” in the private rented sector (PRS), with up to 25 new tenancies for every new property that comes on to the market.

“There is clearly massive demand, and if we look at yields, landlords are earning an average 5.5% yield, so there are still decent yields to be made on properties. [For] those with larger property portfolios, this is just shy of 7%, so [BTL] is still a very profitable market,” she noted.

Sedgwick said that there was still a “good, solid profit” to be made in the PRS, pointing to terraced properties and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) as properties with the highest yields.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, said that as soon as there were BTL changes or tax changes, “everyone trumpets the buy-to-let market is dead”, but that was “not actually the case”.

“There’s a very real split now between the amateur landlords, or the dinner party buy-to-let landlords, who got involved on a whim or maybe inherited a property and they do seem to be the ones who may be looking at the tax changes, rental yields and all the other things that are coming in and thinking actually it’s not for me anymore and selling up,” he said.

Montlake noted that professional landlords were much more “positive”, and was seeing a fair few landlord-to-landlord sales where amateur landlords sell to professional landlords, taking advantage of softer house prices and strong rental returns.

 

PT proc fee debate raging but remortgage on the rebound

Montlake said that the market was “very much in the middle of the debate” around product transfer procuration fees, which brokers have been calling for a realignment of, as they tend to be lower than purchase proc fees but now make up a larger part of business.

He said that it was a “very emotive subject”, and as a firm, its brokers were working longer hours keeping up to date with rate changes and contacting customers six months beforehand. He added that, in some cases, it was revisiting and changing the same application 3-4 times, with seven times being the record.

“Now, it’s a time when brokers need lenders’ help to make sure that brokers are still going to be there, because it is hitting broker firms’ pockets quite hard, and we need to ensure the brokers are still there to distribute the products that come from the lenders when the market really does return properly,” he added.

Sedgwick said that Paragon had increased its product transfer proc fee around two years ago so it was in line with its originations proc fee.

However, she said that while product transfers will still be a “challenge” due to affordability constraints with some borrowers, the remortgage market is “likely to come back and come back on a mission this year and beyond”.

“I do genuinely believe that there will be more options available for customers to look towards remortgage into a different lender, at which point, obviously, that product transfer issue very slight[ly] falls by the wayside,” Sedgwick added.

She said that there was a “disappointing” number of customers coming back to the firm who have not received broker advice.

“I understand that that’s probably because brokers are potentially chasing new customers in new transactions, as opposed to servicing their existing client bank, but I find [it] slightly concerning that such a vast number of these customers are orphaned by their existing brokers.”

Sedgwick said that there was a “lot more work to be done” and a “lot more meeting of minds” to discuss product transfers and advice, but the market is “likely to change in favour of the brokers enabling them to move mortgages around more freely”.

 

 

Watch the 9:45 video of Mortgage Solutions’ contributing editor Victoria Hartley talking to Louisa Sedgwick, commercial director for mortgages at Paragon Banking Group, and Andrew Montlake, managing director at Coreco, about the state of the BTL market, product transfer procuration fees and upcoming opportunities.

MIMHC details wellbeing programme for mortgage sector in 2024

MIMHC details wellbeing programme for mortgage sector in 2024

The mental health and wellbeing events will aim to engage with signatories to the charter and those yet to join. 

This will be kicked off with the MIMHC’s annual wellbeing survey, which assesses the mental health of people working in the mortgage industry. The insights will be used to form initiatives and support strategies for firms. 

Andrew Montlake, co-founder at MIMHC and managing director of Coreco, said: “Our action-packed schedule for 2024 reaffirms MIMHC’s commitment to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of everyone working in our industry. 

“By promoting awareness, starting appropriate conversations and fostering a supportive environment, MIMHC is leading the way towards a healthier and happier workplace for us all.”

The results will be compiled into a white paper that will be published during Mental Health Week, which runs from 13 to 19 May. This year’s event will focus on the importance of physical activity and the MIMHC will organise ‘Walk and Talk’ sessions. 

Jason Berry, MIMHC co-founder and group sales director at Crystal Specialist Finance, will lead a sponsored 144-mile walk from Tamworth, West Midlands, to Canary Wharf, London, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. 

Berry (pictured) said: “This journey symbolises MIMHC’s dedication to promoting physical activity and raising awareness about mental health issues. 

“I hope as many mortgage industry professionals as possible will join me along the route from Crystal Specialist Finance’s office, in Tamworth, to HSBC’s headquarters in Canary Wharf.” 

The MIMHC will bring back its ‘Mindful Mondays’ initiative, where time is allocated for industry professionals to meet for a monthly coffee and chat. This is to promote a sense of community and the importance of forming relationships. 

The ambassadors of MIMHC will also be advocating for mental health awareness at mortgage club and network events across the year. The organisation will also host regional meetings and hold a charity dinner on 10 October, which is World Mental Health Day. 

Montlake added: “This diverse range of initiatives and events will enable us to create lasting change within the mortgage sector by fostering a culture of support and understanding surrounding mental health issues. 

“I hope as many colleagues as possible will get involved – and sign up to our Charter, if they haven’t already done so.” 

Last year, MIMHC launched a signatory steering group.

Change Maker: Andrew Montlake, managing director, Coreco

Change Maker: Andrew Montlake, managing director, Coreco

Andrew Montlake is a well-known figure in the mortgage industry with over thirty years of experience. He has been managing director of Coreco for nearly five years, a company he has graced for a decade and a half. Prior to that, he had stints with Colbalt Capital and John Charcol.

He is currently chairman of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and is an advocate for diversity and inclusivity (D&I) in the industry as well as a passionate support of mental health initiatives. All of this led to his nomination as a Mortgage Solutions‘ Change Maker.

 

 

Why were you nominated for the Change Makers initiative?

I think overall it’s for my obvious passion and commitment to helping to affect change in the industry rather than one specific reason.

As chair of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), being part of the D&I steering group, together with a phenomenal team of like-minded people, I am very proud of all we have achieved with the whole diversity and inclusivity programme, as well as being an active member of the excellent Mortgage Solutions Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum (DIFF).

It’s something that I am personally very passionate about, and everyone can see that in the speeches I do or columns I write.

I do try and speak out about how the industry should change and what we should do and how we can be more inclusive. It’s a bit of a duty for me to do this in an industry that’s given me so much. I want to give back and help the next generation of people within the industry who’ve got so much to offer but, for some reason, have either been passed over or neglected.

 

How is the mortgage industry doing in terms of diversity and inclusivity?

I’ve been in the industry a long time and I’ve seen a change. Although we’re nowhere near where we need to be, we have got so much better.

When I started in the industry, you’d go to a function and you could count the number of women on one hand, it was very male orientated. And norms of behaviour were very different to how it is today.

When we did the AMI Viewpoint, it opened a can of worms. And that’s what we wanted to do. There are people who feel disconnected from the industry, which is so wrong. We have an obligation to make sure no one feels sidelined or alone in this industry.

Looking back [personally], I’ve had antisemitic comments, seen someone fired because they were pregnant, or heard comments around mental health,  – the whole ‘man up’ attitude – and whilst it is changing it needs to change more quickly.

In terms of diversity, at Coreco, as we are based in London, diversity has never been as much of an issue as it might be in some other areas of the country. But if we want to represent our client base properly, we need to have a representative broker base. And that’s what we try and do, we’ve never recruited anyone other than on their merit, and we have a 100 per cent female senior management team.

We’ve always embraced diversity naturally. And my view has always been that if you’ve got the same type of people around the table, what’s the point? You need lots of different views. Its all about culture add rather than culture fit.

 

What kind of practical aspects have you put in place?

Mental health is an issue I am passionate about. At Coreco, we were one of the founding members of the Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter. That’s something that we really have embraced. And that was something very important to me, in an industry that’s very stressful.

Being a broker can be quite a lonely, stressful existence sometimes, especially since the pandemic, where I think there’s been a bit of a mental health explosion, because people didn’t have the camaraderie around them from going into an office every day. Problems were magnified.

We’ve trained up mental health first aiders within our business, and it’s something we talk about a lot at presentations because it’s about reminding people that it’s okay not to be okay.

 

From a diversity perspective, how is the industry doing?

It’s going well but there is much more to do. There’s a core of great people from all types in the industry who are passionate about making change. For example, we are making headway in terms of who is invited to events, and how these are conducted.

I don’t think the same people with poor behaviour traits should be invited just because they are big business writers or contributors.

And we are making some headway with recruitment but, as an industry, we need to look at how we appeal to females or ethnic minorities.

For example, in the way we advertise roles. One thing I learned early on is how a female candidate would look at a recruitment ad compared to a male.

If there are 10 points on the job description, a man may look at it and say ‘I can do three of them really well, and I’ll pick up the rest later’ and they might apply anyway. However, a female candidate would look at the ad in a different way and may be put off applying for the role if they didn’t feel they could do 90 per cent of the points.

And this is possibly the same with someone from an ethnic minority background. They could look at the About Us page on a company website and not see anyone who looks like them, certainly not in any high positions, so will wonder if their progression will be stifled and therefore won’t apply for the role.

It’s about making sure that you have positive statements that you’re an equal opportunities employer, and even if someone thinks they can’t do some parts of the role, they should still apply. As an industry, we need to think a bit more about recruitment, and be aware of our unconscious biases.

It will take a while before we really start to see more diversity at board and managing director level, but that’s where we need to get to. Inclusivity means that everyone has a voice and that should be at board level. We don’t need dinosaurs with outdated views anymore.

 

How did it feel being nominated as a Change Maker?

I had tears in my eyes. It’s great to get awards and things like that, and every single one means a lot to me, but I think this was being recognised for, at least, trying to make a difference. That means something. And I’m prouder of that than anything.

BoE pause in base rate rises a ‘welcome relief’ for borrowers – industry reaction

BoE pause in base rate rises a ‘welcome relief’ for borrowers – industry reaction

The BoE maintained central bank rate at 5.25 per cent, halting the 14 consecutive rate hiking cycle that began at the tail-end of 2021.

Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis Mortgage Network, said that today’s decision was a “welcome relief for borrowers already struggling with the cost of living crisis and high interest rates”.

She continued that this would “accelerate the price war”, with many lenders cutting their rates in recent weeks and fixed rate mortgages in some cases falling below five per cent.

“Nonetheless, rates remain significantly elevated when compared to the rock-bottom rates of recent years, and brokers will need to help consumers adjust their expectations of what a ‘new-normal’ for interest rates may look like.

“It’s unlikely that rates will return to the historic lows of one and two per cent any time soon, and this should now be factored into any decisions about affordability moving forward,” Jefferies added.

She urged brokers to offer education and context to “empower consumers to make informed decisions around products, particularly as the rate landscape continues to evolve”.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, agreed, adding that consecutive rate rises have been “painful” and “it’s time to leave alone for now, rather than causing continued anxiety and distress for borrowers”.

He agreed that while the “days of rock-bottom mortgage rates are long gone” pricing is expected to improve in the coming weeks with more sub-five per cent deals coming to the market.

“Supply is outstripping demand, which will drive down rates and swaps, which while still a little volatile, are trending downwards. While we know this can all change again on the back of negative data, for now the outlook is much more promising than it was three months ago,” Harris explained.

However, he warned that borrowers coming off cheaper fixed rates would face a payment shock, making it important to plan ahead. Harris said that borrowers were opting for shorter-term fixed rates and base rate trackers with no penalties “in the hope that they can fix for longer once rates become more palatable”.

 

Lender price war bodes well for 2024

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, said that it looks like we have reached the “very top of the interest rate cycle” and swap rates were “continuing to ease”.

He continued that this was “giving lenders more space to engage in a rate war as they battle for market share and look to get a good start to 2024”.

“As this competition increases, we will see more products available starting with a four rather than a five and this will inevitably start to encourage more buyers back into the market as they seek to take advantage of the buyers’ market while it lasts,” Montlake added.

Richard Campo, founder of Rose Capital Partners, agreed that it looked like we are nearing the peak of this current cycle which could increase confidence for buyers.

“The seemingly endless rate rises from the BoE were causing borrowers to procrastinate on committing to their new remortgage deals and putting off some would-be homebuyers completely.

“This could even bolster house prices as we have seen huge pent-up demand in recent months from people holding buying off until mortgage costs stabilise,” he added.

Samuel Bull, senior mortgage adviser at Huddersfield-based mortgage broker, JB Mortgages added: “I am hopeful that in 2024 mortgage lenders will start competing for market share with rates starting with a four, rather than a five.

“This will no doubt encourage more buyers back into the market as they seek to take advantage of the ‘buyers’ market’ whilst it lasts.”

 

Affordability could still be ‘clear obstacle’

John Phillips, CEO of Spicerhaart and Just Mortgages, said that while the news was a “positive” for mortgage holders and the general public, the cost of living would still have an impact on affordability.

He explained: “While yesterday’s good news on inflation certainly made the pause more palatable for the Monetary Policy Committee, there’s no question high household costs – particularly fuel, food and energy, still present a challenge. As a result, affordability will remain a clear obstacle for both borrowers and brokers.

“Brokers will continue to play a critical role by using all the tools available to help clients make the numbers work, whether that’s the many households still set to remortgage or those that need to move. Lenders have played their part in recent weeks to reduce rates considerably and news of stability in interest rates may allow lenders to loosen the purse strings a little further,” he added.

 

DIFF podcast: If I could do it again, I’d spend more time with family, not working – Montlake

DIFF podcast: If I could do it again, I’d spend more time with family, not working – Montlake

Speaking on the Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum (DIFF) podcast he said as a working parent, “there is a lot of juggling to do” and added that he “felt like a bit of a failure” when it came to his family life in terms of being present as a father, particularly in his children’s younger years.  

He said while the pressure on working mothers needed to be addressed, the issue is  also important to working fathers.  

Montlake said personally, he found it hard to get away from the idea that he needed to work all the time and look after people while running a business.   

He said it could be confusing for men as they did not know whether they were “meant to be the traditional alpha male who goes out and earns a crust and looks after their family. But then they also have to be the new type of man – which I believe you should be – which is sharing responsibilities and doing things together and being sensitive to everything else,” he added. 

Montlake said he spoke to a lot of men who said they would lie about having to do the school run and pretend to have a meeting or claim to be unwell instead.  

“Anything that doesn’t suggest that you have to go home and look after kids because it was frowned upon for a man to do that,” he added.  

Montlake said this dilemma and uncertainty about identity contributed to stress and the rising suicide rate among men. If he could do it again, Montlake would “learn from my mistakes and spend a lot more time in the family home rather than just being obsessed with working”. 

Montlake said he now tried to create this environment at Coreco where employees were encouraged to put their families first. 

 

Challenges at all ages 

Esther Dijkstra, managing director of intermediaries at Lloyds Banking Group, said when her children were younger the routine helped her as a working parent. 

“It’s the transition periods that make it really hard,” she added, mentioning that school holidays made it difficult to get back into a routine. She said schools were also not geared up for both parents working because they tended to organise events during the day. 

Dijkstra said: “It was very hard for the children because we have no family living close, so our children were always the only ones who didn’t have a parent present at sports day, didn’t have mum present at [the Mother’s Day] tea party. Trust me, I tried to make it in the six to eight years they were both at primary and I never made it.” 

She said with her job it was not logistically possible, particularly if she was travelling or speaking at a conference as she could not “let hundreds of people down”. 

She said this did not become easier over time as while Dijkstra had to arrange childcare when they were younger, when they were older the “problems tend to get bigger”. 

Dijkstra added: “That then takes time because it’s very ad hoc because you either have to attend school meetings or other things to sort it out or be there.  

“The guilt is then really bad because you constantly battle with the ‘if I had been there more, would it not have happened?’ and you do feel judged.” 

 

Workplace culture 

Dijkstra said Montlake was being “hard on himself” and was not a “failed father” and agreed that it was important to signal the importance of her family life at work so people saw her as a whole person. 

She said it was important for companies to be flexible so parents could manage one-off events but when it came to regular duties such as the school run, there needed to be a “balanced discussion” because it should also be fair for non-parents and other carers as everybody might need “ad hoc flexibility at some point in their life”. 

Montlake said since the pandemic, he noticed “discontent” among non-parent employees when flexibility was given to parents. 

He added that it was a battle to balance how to bring people back into the office while retaining flexibility, particularly for those who needed it. 

Dijkstra said there needed to be more of a focus on outcomes rather than presenteeism or how many hours are put into a job and agreed it was not easy to figure out. 

Host Danielle Moore, operations director at AE3 Media, raised the financial challenge of arranging childcare and keeping children entertained during the summer holidays, as well as the impact of that on parent employees. 

Dijkstra said summer holidays were a “total utter nightmare” because the routine was broken and that was “sometimes all you’re hanging on to when you have a full-time career”. She said it was too short to find another routine, so parents ended up “limping through it”. 

She said the timings of summer holiday activities did not align with regular school timings either which added another difficulty and as a working mother, she never managed to form enough of a connection with other parents to share the childcare load. 

Montlake said this was the first summer holiday that was really challenging as his kids were not interested in doing anything. 

 

Listen to the podcast [34:35] hosted by Danielle Moore, operations director at AE3 Media, featuring Esther Dijkstra, managing director of intermediaries at Lloyds Banking Group and Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco. 

 

Aldermore makes three pledges around broker service

Aldermore makes three pledges around broker service

The lender has pledged to offer one full working day’s notice of any product withdrawal and offer 10 days to convert from a decision in principle into a full mortgage application.

Aldermore will also allow a customer to select a cheaper rate for a client at any time up to completion with no charge for the broker or the client.

The firm added that it would contact brokers up to six months before a client’s deal matures to help brokers support customers in their next steps.

Nicola Goldie, head of strategic partnerships at Aldermore, said: “Whilst lenders are doing their best to react to an unpredictable market, it’s vital that we work together and offer brokers as much notice as possible when making changes to our product ranges.

“We know first-hand just how difficult brokers are finding it right now. Hopefully these three pledges provide much-needed certainty and clarity for them.”

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, added: “I’m thrilled to see Aldermore showing its commitment to the broker market and really listening.

“Brokers desperately need reliability and clear communication from lenders, for their own benefit as well as for their clients. In an ideal world we’ll start to see more lenders committing to these sorts of pledges in the near future.”

Labour calls emergency broker summit on mortgage market ‘turbulence’

Labour calls emergency broker summit on mortgage market ‘turbulence’

Earlier this week, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves (pictured) and Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary for Levelling Up, said that they would meet brokers to hear about how increasing mortgage rates were hitting first-time buyers and homeowners and discuss potential solutions.

Nandy said on Twitter: “It was good to hear from brokers and financial advisers at our emergency summit today about what they’re seeing in the mortgage market.

“The government cannot continue to stand by while they and families across the country battle the turbulence of this mortgage crisis.”

Reeves added: “Today at our emergency summit we heard first-hand from mortgage brokers of the despair caused by the Tory mortgage bombshell.

“Only Labour has a long-term plan to fix the housing crisis for buyers, renters and homeowners alike.”

Reeves had said earlier this week that Labour would look at bringing out a mortgage insurance scheme where the state acts as a guarantor for those struggling to save for a deposit, reform planning and boost housebuilding. She added that it would explore long-term fixed rates.

Representatives from small and large broker firms attended

The event was chaired by Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco and chair of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries.

Topics discussed at the event included how brokers are dealing with their clients, real client stories of those facing higher mortgage costs, ideas for the present and future mortgage sector, overall housing market, rate withdrawals from lenders, product innovation and issues first-time buyers have getting on the property ladder amongst others.

At the meeting, Montlake said: “It is very important that you hear the opinions of mortgage brokers who are the ones on the front line, dealing with people’s issues and fears, helping them to find a way through the mortgage maze and advise them on the best ways forward for them.

“The work brokers do and the advice they give has never been more crucial, important and valued. We are trusted by clients like no one else in the home ownership journey.”

He continued that he welcomed this “refreshing, forward-thinking approach, and look forward to this being the start of a professional working relationship that can help guide and formulate policy that will help real people on the ground”.

Montlake noted that the cost of living crisis, inflation and ever-increasing rate hikes “hurt the same group of people each time, forcing lenders to reprice often with little or no notice”.

He added: “I would hope that together we can look for alternative ways forward.”

‘Blanket call’ for 24-hour withdrawal notice periods could cause ‘huge issues’, AMI chairman says

‘Blanket call’ for 24-hour withdrawal notice periods could cause ‘huge issues’, AMI chairman says

Speaking at the AMI dinner last night, Andrew Montlake (pictured) said that with his “broker hat on” it would be “remiss of me not to support the call for as much notice as possible”.

He continued: “I am a broker, I suffer like others suffer, like the other practitioners on the AMI board. I watch how it affects the lives and mental health of our brokers. Extensions to midnight are not the solution.”

Montlake said 24 hours’ notice would be “great” but AMI was “not naive enough not to also recognise the huge issues this can cause for our lender partners as well as the stresses and strains it puts on your staff as well”.

He explained: “A blanket call for more notice could cause other issues and sometimes we need to be careful what we wish for. We do not want the lenders to feel like they have to take rates higher earlier or see lending become cautious and difficult.

“There is a solution somewhere in the middle, and we remain open to work together for the best interest of us all.”

Montlake continued that AMI does “incredible work on behalf of brokers and the team works tirelessly and respectfully behind the scenes to represent brokers’ interests” and he was proud to be associated with it.

He said: “You are being represented and sometimes it may be frustrating, but it’s only by working together and understanding both sides you have chance to affect real change.

“We do have so much work to do and it is a journey but I fundamentally believe our industry can be a shining light and I will never ever lose that passion and drive, however long it takes and whatever criticism I get along the way.”

 

Brokers need to start putting Consumer Duty ‘plans into action’

Montlake praised the work that AMI was doing on Consumer Duty, pointing to its various factsheets and podcast which offers information and advice, as well as mythbusting common misconceptions about the upcoming regulation.

“While the overriding aims of this is of course laudable, I can’t help but think that the time and money would be better spent looking for the real cowboys who will now doubt continue to ignore whatever changes come their way rather than forcing more work onto firms who are trying to do the right thing every day,” he noted.

Montlake continued: “It’s time for all those who have not thought about this seriously to put their plans into action.”

He thanked the Financial Conduct Authority for their “continued openness and engagement” on Consumer Duty and other regulatory subjects.

“The sign of a good relationship is where we can both fight for our respective views to be heard, sometimes vehemently, but always with the respect and knowledge that our views will be taken seriously and we will not fall out,” Montlake added.

Montlake said that AMI had some “great success” with reducing fees for member firms, which he said would allow firms to invest more of their “hard-earned income” back into the company and their people. He noted that AMI would “keep a watching brief” on this issue.

 

Insurers can be more innovative on protection

Montlake said protection was “still an important foundation” of AMI’s purpose and its third Viewpoint report on this would be coming out soon.

“It shows that there is still more that there is still more work to be done to engage both brokers and clients of the importance of a fully-protected mortgage.”

“I still feel that some insurers can do more, such as more modern products that consumers understand, new ways of marketing, fairer costings and engender more consumer trust in claims stats. This is a work in progress that we will continue to pursue,” he added.