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AMI rallies its troops

Last week I wrote that a war had begun between intermediaries and lenders over dual pricing and AMI has responded saying it is determined to rally the industry to ensure fair treatment to brokers and their clients.

AMI director Richard Farr has told me it is in the process of sending out letters to all of its smaller members and the trade body will be personally contacting the larger broking organisations in a bid to get all of its members on board.

He says AMI has an eight point plan to address the current situation.

This comes as FSA chief executive Hector Sants told the Building Societies Association conference in Manchester this week that dual pricing is not against TCF.

He told delegates that lenders are not obliged to deal through brokers.

After the huge amount of responses I received on the back of last week’s piece, I expect this statement from the Sants is going to cause even more frustration and anger in the intermediary market.

The BSA conference also saw BSA chief executive Adrian Coles entering the debate by challenging recent press comments by John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger warning that brokers will remember those lenders that are the worst culprits of dual pricing.

Coles challenged Boulger on stage to explain what he actually meant by “remembered”.

One audience member pointed out that a broker still had to offer the best deal that was available for their consumer even if it was a lender that previously had a strategy of undercutting brokers.

Boulger pointed out that of course if a deal was miles ahead of other deals it would have to offer it, but that if it was similar to other deals then a broker would probably go for a different lender.

So, while AMI is setting out its strategy, what else can intermediaries do?

One broker wrote to me and said he would be refusing to accept appointments from business development managers of lenders operating this policy. He said if brokers confirmed their reasons in writing, then this would show the lenders the strength of the feeling that exists.

He added: “It is no use sounding off at a BDM, he is probably a nice guy, possibly even agrees with the brokers, but he has no power. He is not a decision maker.”

Another intermediary said that all brokers and intermediaries should make sure they join together as a force to be reckoned with and have an approved list of lenders.

One broker acknowledged while trade bodies may have some impact, ultimately a broker is wholly dependent on the lenders in providing funds for clients.

He suggested that the intermediary market needs a saviour which is unlikely to be one of the high street lenders.

He said: “I naively thought that one of the big boys may come out on the side of the broker but I was wrong. They say that difficult market conditions usually bring opportunities and I believe that is true. What would really put the cat amongst the pigeons is a lender to offer, via the intermediary channels, products that would allow us to move business away from the likes of Halifax, Woolwich and Nationwide ~ we just need a financial institution brave enough (and robust enough) to make the move.”

He said that a year ago this would have probably been Northern Rock.

He said: “The only way we can fight is with some serious heavyweight ammunition. At the moment, all we can do is wound the messengers- i.e the BDMs – in the hope that our message gets through to those in the ivory towers.”

If you have any comments then please email me at tanya.powley@centaur.co.uk

Comments (2)

The FSA ( and the lenders ) are short sighted in this approach to permit dual pricing. The FSA is supposed to watch over the interests of the consumers and by allowing this type of activity, in my opinion, it breaches that duty.

My fear is what is next? No proc fees ? If funds remain scarce, be ready for it.
We have seen the IFA market evolve into what is looking like a fee-charging environment and I fear the lenders have almost unilaterally.

There’s no time to waste……brokers need to have a game plan NOW and not in six months. The Networks need to nurse their members through this lean period and promote evolution of mortgage brokers into a stronger resilient species.

Its time to join forces, consolidate costs and form professional practices because what has started off as a trickle could be a flood!

Bob Singh. AFPC, CeMAP, Director Chess Financial Services

I am pleased to see that you are reporting on one of the most important issues facing our industry at present.

We are still busy here placing mortgage business, but I am losing some deals to the direct channels which is really annoying.

I lost a deal to Woolwich earlier where my client looked at their website and found a deal 0.65% lower than I could offer, not funny when I recommended Woolwich to them just a few months ago on the strength of a lifetime tracker we could port, borrowing further monies at today’s rates.. This went directly back to the coffers of Woolwich, despite the hard work I had put in to direct my client in the right direction from the start.

We all have stories, and I believe there are brokers all over the country who are feeling the same way.

I have found the past few weeks frustrating because although we all feel strongly it has been difficult as individuals to make a big impact.

Hopefully the AMI’s initiative will have a larger impact by uniting the individual companies which feel so strongly about this issue.

Thanks for your support.

Claire Cook, Director Talk Money

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