Back to work after my family holiday in Cyprus and, as usual, it was like I had never been away. The paperwork was still there, my inbox was bursting at the seams with email, the list of phone messages read like the Leeds phone book and, yes, the now infamous black Cemap book was still there.
Once I got things straightened out, I caught up on some essential reading, including Money Marketing and some mortgage magazines.
There was a feeling of déjà vu about the mortgage exam coverage – it was like 1986 and FPC3 all over again. So many mortage advisers seem to be leaving it until the last minute to do anything about the exams. Alternatively, it could be that a lot of them are simply going to stop selling mortgages altogether next year. Either way, it seems to have a lot of people in a mild state of panic, including lenders and a lot of industry commentators.
I am not panicking just yet but I do intend to continue advising on mortgages so it is time to crack on with my Cemap revision.
The good fortune of World Cup games being televised in the morning means I can devote a few evening revision sessions to Cemap. I have covered the early topics in the book and found them quite hard going. A lot of it centres on mortgage and property law. As the Institute of Financial Services' Cemap exam is multiple choice, it is clear that I will need to remember a lot of definitions so I can match them up in the exam.
The middle topics in the book are reassuringly familiar, based on applying for a mortgage and the different types of mortgage available, so there are no surprises here.
It would appear that whoever wrote the syllabus applied for a mortgage with the most conservative lender around, which wanted every piece of supporting documentation available, along with the applicant's inside-leg measurement. The test-yourself questions in the book confirm this. I think the advice is to err on the side of caution and assume the lender wants everything.
But refreshing my memory about the different mortgage products available is nice and simple. Even clients can now explain a cap-and-collar flexible discount product with extra bells and whistles, thanks to the sensational headlines in the newspapers over the last 12 months. Some easy marks here, I feel.
It is interesting to see exactly what the client and lender are getting into when the mortgage deed is signed and the rights it gives to both sides. I always encourage my clients to read their mortgage offer and mortgage deed carefully but I doubt many of them do. I am now going to give them that little bit of extra encouragement to do this, so they are not surprised if lenders exercise their power to inspect the property at any time or take the proceeds of any insurance claim before it gets to the client.
There is also a reasonably big section on insurance products, both general and life. I am becoming increasingly confident with the syllabus, as it is not as irrelevant as I have been led to believe. You can see why some people who do not write much mortgage business have failed but an adviser with a couple of years experience and a reasonable amount of revision should pass the exam. I hope these words do not come back to haunt me.
The final section of the book deals with post-completion matters. Never having worked for a lender, but sometimes feeling they should pay me a salary for the amount of business my practice writes for them, I took a bit of extra time with this section. It covers the process of dealing with borrowers who are in arrears, right through to lenders taking legal action and repossessing a property.
As you get two questions on post-completion matters in the exam, it is highly likely that one of them will be on arrears, repossession procedures and claims on mortgage indemnity guarantees.
The other post-completion matters, while straightforward, do include a fair amount of detail. Procedures such as transfers of equity, changes in interest rates and even death are subject to all sorts of provisions and rules.
I am making more quick revision lists to help me in this area. I intend quizzing lender representatives who call in at the office to see exactly what they do in order to get a better feel for this part of the process. It will make a change to hearing about their new interest rates.
I spent the final hour of this month's revision looking at the mortgage code. Although I give the You and Your Mortgage leaflet out to all my mortgage clients, it is some time since I have read it myself. It does no harm to familiarise myself with the 10 key commitments again. Although I will not be asked to list them parrot-fashion in a multiple-choice environment, a lot of questions seem based around the code.
Next month, I am attending a Cemap bridge revision workshop with Scottish Widows Bank. This will enable me to gauge where I am in my studies. I will let you know what words of wisdom I pick up.
Scottish Widows Bank Revision Round-up
Various support is available from the different institutes running mortgage exams.
The Institute for Financial Services offers a CD-Rom, with a new version due for release in August. This contains over 1,300 sample test questions and should be used in conjunction with the N2 supplement available from the IFS. Revision notes for Cemap, in a bullet-point format for easy revision, can also be obtained from the IFS. The notes are supplied in a loose-leaf A4 pack.
Practice papers are available for candidates preparing for Cemap. These will:
Familiarise candidates with multiple-choice questions including various difficulty levels.
Act as a benchmark by which candidates can assess how they have absorbed the detail contained in the study material.
Offer candidates, where possible, an appreciation of the type of questions that might be encountered in the exam.
For further details and prices, contact the IFS on 01227 762600 or www.ifslearning.com.
The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland offers revision notes and past papers along with the chief examiner's comments. For details and prices, contact 0131 473 7777 or www.ciobs.org.uk.
The CII offers CBT and revision notes. For details, contact www.cii.co.uk