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Package deal

Vesta Packaging managing director Mark Leaper on how regulation has divided packagers in two camps.

Anyone reading through the mortgage media over the past few months may have noticed a fair amount of articles knocking packagers.

In the run-up to M-Day on October 31, there were stories put about suggesting packagers would not have as great a role in the regulated world of mortgages. Some lenders hoped they might attract packagers’ business and were jealous of the influence of organisations such as the Regulatory Alliance of Mortgage Packagers .

Mortgage Day came and went and packagers were still being used by practically all mortgage intermediaries.

The months have passed and the regulatory environment has become firmly established and authorised best-practice packagers have continued to thrive. There are changes taking place within packaging but they are strengthening the sector.

Regulation has done packagers a favour. It has sorted out those packagers which are determined to pursue the highest standards of business and regulation and those packagers which are not.

Serious packagers have become regulated by the FSA and have employed rigorous quality regimes that put their businesses on foundations which will enable them to grow stronger.

They have embraced regulation and taken the spirit of it further by using professional compliance support, ensuring they have quality management systems and, in some cases, codes of conduct which cover everything from complaint handling, succession management and compliance to training and data protection.

Some packagers have not become regulated and have not changed their operating procedures significantly.

Regulation has divided the packaging community firmly into two camps. I believe that those in the first camp of authorised companies will flourish.

Intermediary demand for professional packaging services has never been greater. As well as the traditional need for specialist handling of time-consuming non-conforming applications, there is now also a new need for support from the huge number of intermediaries who have not joined a network.

Many networks have failed in their efforts to attract large numbers of members.

There must be tens of thousands of mortgage introducers in the UK but networks account for less than 10 per cent of the total number of introducers.

The low take-up for many networks leaves a big population of introducers which are unaccounted for, many of these directly authorised. However, there is a great number which are neither directly authorised nor appointed representatives and they are seeking and getting support from authorised packagers.

I have exhibited at industry events over the past few mon-ths and have always been inundated by brokers keen to use packagers to help them navigate FSA regulation. At the last exhibition I attended, we collected the best part of 500 coupons from intermediaries wanting to find out more about how a directly authorised packager could support them.

Many directly authorised packagers are offering introducers a very low-cost route which enables them to stay in the market and remain compliant. We are saying to intermediaries that they can either have a full relationship with their clients and minimal or no packager contact with the consumer or an introduction-only service where they give us a client’s contact details and we do the rest.

Thankfully, by choosing to take this route, many intermediaries will be able to continue to grow. We all know that the mortgage market can ill afford to lose experienced salespeople.

I am looking to expand my packaging business significantly in the months and years ahead and am confident of achieving this. The mortgage market has never been more receptive to the service offered by go-ahead packagers.

It will be interesting to see what the mortgage community looks like in two or three years time. I fear that there may be some packaging casualties but I am certain that those which are authorised and which have taken the best practice model forward will be in an even stronger position than they are today.

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