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This week in Mortgages

The Mortgage Business Expo took centre stage with week with the great, the good and the hungover from the mortgage market all descending on London’s Earl’s Court for two days of well, er, mortgages.

There were no major announcements or huge industry talking points at the two-day show, with the most notable speech being the FSA’s Clive Briault telling most of us what we already knew, that the regulator is likely to uncover a number of concerns about the quality of advice in the market once the results of its thematic investigation are revealed early next year.

Instead of the focus being on the seminar rooms it was instead on the show-floor, though many commented that the event was a lot more toned down than past gatherings with no pole dancers on display. There were also no signs of any invites from late-night club Secrets, despite rumours this week it had infiltrated the Expo’s database of brokers to invite them for some evening entertainment. Yet the Wednesday night party at Number One Leicester Square certainly took its toll on people’s appearance the following morning.

Best stand? Well, the usual suspects from HBOS and RBS spent the most on their huge expressions of grandeur. The Mortgage Business attempted a super hero theme to woo brokers, while the three Lehman Brother brands went for the retro skaelectrics theme.

Money Marketing’s favourite was Money Partners’ wall of water, which made its communications director Bob Sturges appear like he was glowing on the other side of a space warp, when seen through the aqua decor. MM, though, was also surprised at Edeus’ decision to go low-profile with no more than a modest stand. It makes a change from hiring out the Odeon Leicester Square for its red-carpet launch in September.

Away from the Expo and onto more sobering matters, and the CML this week released figures which indicated levels of remortgaging are at a five-year low. Many, such as the trade body itself, will point to the growth in retention schemes as a reason, though high exit fees have also been suggested as a cause.

Many commentators have pointed out that it is perhaps too early to use the figures as a sign that the entire market is set to tumble in future, as has been suggested by the anti-retention lobby over recent weeks.

But there are a number of influential commentators also urging brokers to start thinking about alternative ways to attract customers through innovation, in case the remortgaging decline leads to a contraction in the market that could see many struggle to win as much business as previously.

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