The man taking the helm of the new Association of Mortgage Intermediaries thinks he can get the trade body, formerly Namba, back on track. It seems like a big job but TQ Mortgage Service chief executive and former Namba steering committee chairman Charles Gooding knows the importance of keeping things on track.
Tracks govern more than just his working life. Gooding loves anything to do with cars and is a big motor racing fan. “I've always been fascinated with racing, particularly Formula One and I have followed it ever since I was a kid.”
When he was younger, Gooding raced go-karts and even had a stint driving Formula Fords. Nowadays he is content with driving his Porsche Boxter between his Bedfordshire home and his Milton Keynes office and now that he has a three-year-old son, he is finding that motor racing might be in the genes.
“He's taken to slot car racing like a champion. When he gets older he'll definitely give me a run for my money,” he says.
Keeping Namba on the right track, however, proved more complicated. In April last year a steering committee was set up to work out how to keep the body operational. It was soon clear to most people involved that for Namba to have credibility and a voice that would be heard, a drastic overhaul was needed.
First on the agenda was to debate joining with a bigger industry body and setting up a proper trade body infrastructure while using its resources more efficiently.
Gooding and his committee talked with Aifa in mid-2002. All involved felt there was a lot of synergy between where Aifa presently was and what Namba needed to achieve, he says. Initial ideas were structured around building some kind of alliance between the two bodies. However, it soon became clear that there were greater benefits in Namba becoming a division of Aifa. So last month, Namba was reborn as the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, a division of Aifa.
But Gooding is quick to point out that the AMI is not simply Namba rebranded. He seems to be going to great lengths to make sure that the changes are intrinsic and comprehensive.
The new organisation is run by a board which Gooding says will provide a forum for big and small brokers alike. Initial set-up costs have been covered by a £100,000 interest-free loan from the Council of Mortgage Lenders plus support from lenders who join the AMI as non-voting associate members. Gooding says that the proposition is appealing to lenders as 60 per cent of their business comes from third-party brokers.
“It's in their best interest to be part of the voice that will speak to the FSA on behalf of brokers. In a nutshell, we aim to work closely with lenders and intermediaries to improve standards, cut costs and give consumers a better deal.”
Gooding goes to great lengths to explain that structurally, Namba and the AMI are poles apart, with the latter's founders careful to set up a transparent, not-for-profit organisation that will be easily accountable.
“Organisationally, the two bodies are very different. The AMI has been carefully structured on the Aifa model and the bulk of funding will come from members with voting rights. When it's in place, the structure will be published for transparency.”
The creation of a trade body for the mortgage community has fascinated Gooding for a long time. “Mortgage market intermediaries are a somewhat fragmented crowd and it has always surprised me that IFAs and insurance brokers had their own trade bodies but mortgage intermediaries didn't,” he says.
Gooding knew something needed to be done when in 1998 the mortgage code came into place and he saw that more intermediaries were becoming specialist mortgage brokers. He initially came on board with Namba out of this simple belief but he says it has now become a real passion for him.
“A group of us at Namba became really passionate about creating a strong, influential body for mortgage intermediaries. So when the AMI concept arose we started thinking blue sky: 'In an ideal world, what would a mortgage intermediary's trade body look like?' This is how the AMI has been created.”
Gooding wants AMI to be a trade body that represents the interests of all aspects of the market – from one-man bands to the biggest players. In these early days, he does admit that creating a solid membership is a challenge.
“The big challenge will be signing mortgage clubs and networks. Our potential membership would be in the region of 30,000-40,000 individuals. However, I would be pleased to see initial figures of around 5,000 in the near future. The most important thing is to have the full backing of larger and high profile intermediaries. Once they are on board, the individuals will follow.” Critical mass is an issue with Gooding but he says what is more important for the AMI is brand.
“We need to look good in front of the right people. The FSA has been extremely receptive to our proposition. If they had dismissed it, we would not have had the clout we need. Similarly, we also have the full support of Aifa, the CML and the Imla. I aim to build the AMI into a solid, legitimate trade body.”
Gooding is not new to chairman's roles. He is presently chairman of the International Slot Car Association and has served previous terms as the British Slot Car Association chairman.
“Slot car racing is a fun pastime and I have been fortunate enough to go around the world competing in it.”
It is a game he excels at, claiming the national championship title in 2001 and also having an international championship win under his belt. In the lead-up to this year's title, Gooding has been running second in a couple of classes and thinks he may be in line for another championship win.
Born: Cape Town, South Africa
Lives: Willington (near Bedford)
Education: Tiverton Grammar; Redland College, Bristol
Career: Secondary school teacher; moved to Barclays and worked his way up to assistant branch manager; 1984, Gateway Building Society, opened Alton office, promoted to area manager for Lincoln and Boston; 1988, after Gateway's merger with Woolwich, assistant regional manager for the Southwest and Wales; 1991, east Midlands regional manager; 1995 London regional manager; 1999, consultant to City brokers and formed 20 Twenty Mortgages; 2002, formed TQ Mortgage Service and is chairman of the Namba steering committee
Career ambition: “As CEO of TQ Mortgage Service, I would like to develop our Broker4Broker business into an all singing, all dancing service for brokers and IFAs post mortgage regulation.”
Life ambition: To see Leeds United win the Champions League, win more model car championships, spend more time with my son.
Drives: Porsche Boxter
Peers say: “He is a passionate ambassador for high standards and greater integration of the mortgage intermediary sector.”