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Mortgage board steps up consumer protection

Mortgage advisers should take professional qualifications as part of plans to improve customer protections says Mortgage Code Compliance Board chief executive Luke March.

The plans include a "fit and proper" regime for brokers, and promotion of training and competence testing which would lead to the professional mortgage qualification. There are also plans to ensure the Code protects customers buying mortgages on the Internet, an area which March says, poses significant risks to Code Compliance.

The measures, which are expected to be finalised in the next 12 months, would mirror FSA regulations.

March expects the moves will increase consumer protection and enhance the industry’s reputation.

He says: "Our industry consultation shows there is strong support from those questioned for qualifications becoming a compulsory standard for advisers."

An E-Mortgage Working Party formed by the Mortgage Board is now looking at online mortgage sales and is monitoring standards for use in consumer information on e-mortgages.

The Board is also conducting market research into e-mortgages and selling standards on the Internet.

An independent, non-profit making company , the MCCB, is funded by registered firms and was set up in 1997 to monitor mortgage lenders. A board to monitor intermediaries was set up in 1998.

The MCCB can give warnings, reprimand, fine, suspend or de-register a registered firm and its monitoring includes visits to intermediary-based advisers and lenders, mystery shopping surveys and investigations into problem areas.

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