Cartel’s managing director recently commented that there is an unhealthy obsession with online trading. There is no doubt – as the fortunes of Charcol and Savills’ e-commerce ventures dem- onstrated – that the high-street punter wants to execute business face to face. But he also wants a mortgage offer letter in double-quick time and is discerning enough to ask whether brokers have B2B application channels to circumvent the form-filling tribulations.Make no mistake, online trading has been the saviour of the industry at a time when compliance costs have soared and homebuyer activity has cooled. To sugg- est otherwise is tosh. On the subject of the comatose hous- ing market, there are finally signs of revival and the base rate reduction will be a shot of adrenalin to go with Halifax’s return to brokers’ best buy tables. However, the rate reduction has come too late for some traditionally prime-orientated lenders dipping their toes in the non-conforming product pool. As rates fall, prime margins are going to start looking skinny. Near-prime virgins Universal Building Society and Derbyshire have doubtless done their homework. But, in what is already a sardine-canned sector, it will be interesting to see if either really makes the sustained splash which can improve overall operating margins. This expression near-prime is a little nebulous. My own feeling is that the subject wants for definition and will only have a limited shelf life before the mainstream lenders decide that today’s near-prime is actually tomorrow’s standard vanilla business. In some cases, that is the case already. As a wayward adolescent, I was relieved to discover that you cannot be half-pregnant. So watch for Abbey, HBOS and an emergent C&G cornering this market. On to Halifax and its new interme- diary offering, which really is a breath of fresh air. HBOS appears to be back at the party, with Bank of Scotland also distinguishing itself with the most potent advertising drive at present in respect of its Premier Service. The BOS proposi- tion is a class act, so brokers of loans above 500,000 should really get stuck in. The omens for brokers are portentous. A two-year rate at 3.99 per cent can only be days away. Finally, in the midst of the transfer season, there have been some fascinating moves. Cammy Amaira was to Mortgage Express what Patrick Vieira was to Arsenal. MEX supremo Tim Dawson is the pion- eer of the buy-to-let phenomenom and his communiqu矴o brokers on Amaira’s departure was typically gracious and magnanimous. It was clearly a decision which Amaira did not take lightly but it does also demonstrate that while bro- kers will always return to a lender which takes an uncompetitive product stance for a given period, conversely, lenders’ key staff also need to constantly feel that they are batting at Test match level as opposed to keeping trim in the nets. MEX will ride out the loss and I hope will be back shortly with sharper products.
Ethical investments broke the 10bn barrier for the first time last year, according to Co-operative Financial Services. It says 10.6bn was placed in ethical investments or deposited with ethical banks and credit unions during 2004. A total of 5.5bn was invested in ethically screened funds while 5.1bn was deposited in ethical banks and credit unions. […]
Richard Cohen from Worthing-based Nsure Group has become the youngest associate of the Personal Finance Society at just 21 years old. There are 1,092 associates in the UK and the average age is 41. Cohen started working part-time for Nsure, which is headed by his father Tony Cohen, in 1999 while still at college before […]
Beacon Capital Holdings is entering into non-conforming lending with the launch of Beacon Homeloans. The lender will distribute exclusively through the Regulatory Alliance of Mortgage Packagers. The group now consists of its IFA arm, Beacon Asset Management and packager, Beacon Mortgages.
A consortium of legal experts led by Beachcroft Wansbroughs is planning to lobby the FSA this autumn over the legality of its principle-based regulation. Financial services law firm Beachcroft Wansbroughs has invited a team of legal and compliance directors of financial services firms, legal professors, barristers, judges and the FSA general counsel to the board […]
When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne made several changes to the way in which income is taxed. Personal allowances were increased significantly above the rate of inflation; a starting rate band was introduced for savings income and, with effect from 6 April 2015, this was assessed at 0 per cent. In addition, […]
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BMO Global Asset Management fund manager Robert Burdett has more than halved the exposure to passive funds in most of the multi-manager funds amid fears of a bubble in the market. Burdett, who co-manages the £1.2bn F&C MM Navigator Distribution fund with Gary Potter, says the team has been cutting exposure to passive funds across […]
Opinion differs as to what has caused the advice gap. Some believe the move from commission to fees has made advice unaffordable for the mass market, with advisers having to focus on wealthier clients for commercial reasons, while others say the trend was happening anyway, regardless of the RDR. For Simplified Money director Lesley James, […]
Sales of protection policies are back at peak levels, with the sector growing by more than 20 per cent in the past year, despite adviser complaints over protection’s lack of popularity. According to the latest figures from Equifax Touchstone, sales of protection policies surpassed £149m between July and September this year — their highest level […]