The decision to establish the new Association of Mortgage Intermediaries was not a quick one, but following lengthy deliberations has achieved remarkable consensus and support.
In making this decision the Ami Board has individually and collectively committed themselves and their firms to working with the executive team in delivering an effective voice for the mortgage broker. The Association of Finance Brokers will be taken under the wing of Ami and their interests looked after by the same team.
In looking forward, what is going to be different? Firstly what will be the same is that Alex Revell and myself will continue to undertake the policy and lobbying work on behalf of members. The difference will be what we will be focussing on. We will collaborate with Aifa where appropriate, but we will no longer share premises.
Ami has made the decision to move to a less expensive, out of London office, at least initially, and travel to London when required. We have also decided to outsource our IT, membership, accounting and events management, as this will deliver a more cost effective solution for Ami members.
Not since Ami’s inception has there been such a busy regulatory agenda. In Europe, the proposed directive requires measured attention, whilst the Mortgage Market Review is currently front of stage and will remain so for the first half of this year. This will include ensuring Treasury, FSA, lenders and consumer bodies understand the benefits of brokers in the new lending world.
There is much to be done to ensure consumers understand the value that dealing with a broker delivers. In working with intermediary lenders, consumer groups and the media, we need to get across the benefit of meeting with advisers who look across the whole of the market and give them the best chance of getting a mortgage that works for them. This must be a core part of the work of the new Association.
In addition, brokers spend as much of their time with customers on insurance and protection issues as they do on the mortgage transaction. When we look at the trade publications and the work done by Ami, this is not reflected. We need to begin to redress this imbalance.
Finally, all brokers have embraced various aspects of technology, in support of their businesses. I think Ami can do more to work out how the technology firms can deliver more cohesive solutions that work better for customers, brokers, lenders and insurers. It will not be an easy journey, but the challenge is a worthy one.
The next few months will throw up other challenges, which Ami will need to address, including the interventions of those in the Claims Management industry that do much to damage the reputation of the few good firms. We will also work to ensure that good bridging firms are not put at a disadvantage by those who bend the rules.
Much to do. But an experienced team who are up for the challenges ahead. What we do need is for all mortgage firms to make a financial contribution to the work we do. If all firms are members we are stronger and more capable of delivering quality outcomes for the industry.
Robert Sinclair is director of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries