The Post Office has begun selling mortgages in its branches in a bid to rival high street lenders, but will not offer customers regulated advice.
The Post Office previously offered mortgages through an online and telephone service. It has introduced “mortgage specialists” into five branches in Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Luton and Norwich and will roll the offering out to other branches in the coming months.
The Post Office says customers will be offered a free appointment to discuss their needs and help them “make an informed decision about the suitability of the products”, however no regulated advice will be given.
The Post Office says its new mortgage software will enable customers to find out how much they could borrow and view product features and repayments on screen. It claims customers could be provided with a printed approval in principle or submit a full mortgage application “within a few minutes”.
The Post Office will continue to offer the online and telephone service.
Post Office head of mortgages Mike Cook says: “We understand that taking out a mortgage is one of the most important financial decisions you have to make. Finding the right one can be a complex process and this is one of the reasons why we have introduced our specially trained mortgage specialists to assist our customers through the process.
“If there is any sign of confusion on the part of the customer, we would recommend they seek independent financial advice but we would not direct them to any specific firm or consultant. It does not come up an awful lot as most people have an idea of what they want by the time they approach us.”
Ami chief executive Robert Sinclair says: “Whilst this approach might be within the existing FSA rules, it is certainly not within the spirit and principles set out by the FSA in its current proposals for the mortgage market.
“The Post Office has rightly established that these decisions are important, complex and that people need help. It is therefore critical that people who manufacture these products take responsibility and provide advice or get brokers involved. Hiding behind the curtain of non-advised does not improve our market or help the consumer.”