There were some interesting things that came out of the Mortgage Strategy Mortgage Summit last week.
One lively debate centred on the question of whether lenders or the FSA, or anyone else for that matter, has a preference for appointed representative practices above directly authorised companies. Is it better to be one or the other in the current climate?
Among the arguments I have heard, not just during the conference, is that it is harder for lenders and regulators to really know the smaller DA firms and that AR firms do not have as much passion as DAs as they are willing to abdicate responsibility to a bigger body for compliance.
Both the above seem to resonate somewhere close to nonsense and I am yet to hear a compelling argument that one route is better than the other. Whether you are an AR or a DA, the aim is the same – to provide good quality, honest and reliable advice, as is the passion to develop and grow your own business or brand.
Having been both in my career, I can say that 90 per cent of the time, if not more, there is no difference. There are slight positives and negatives for both.
Having complete independence in everything you do is nice, being able to react to a situation quickly without having to send an advert or release through a compliance process has its advantages, as has deciding to deal with a new introducer or lender quickly and easily.
But a good network can add a considerable amount of expertise and benefit to your organisation. Why muddle through compliance and training yourself when there are experienced experts whose job it is to keep up with all the latest changes? They can help provide top-notch training, introducers and marketing support.
In a perfect world, being free to make your own decisions is a definite aim but having the support of a good network does not have to hinder your growth plans. Being an AR may not always suit us but we would certainly not be where we are today without the advice and help of Mortgage Advice Bureau.
This whole discussion is a complete irrelevance. It does not matter if you are DA or AR. What matters is that we as an industry stop bickering internally and present a strong, unified view to the outside world.
Only when we all come together and say no to a lender that is doing something we do not agree with for example, and as one put pressure on it for the good of the industry, will we start to change things. Only when we all as one show the public that independent, professional advice is the only way to go will we get our message out more effectively.
With reports of “a tsunami of regulation” heading our way, lenders holding much of the power and a public in desperate need of a sensible, down-to-earth offering, now seems as good a time as any to come together and show what a great industry this is.
Andrew Montlake is director of Coreco