Which? conducted mystery shopping among 50 advisers, including 24 bank advisers, 13 estate agents and 13 independent advisers. Only four were judged to have done their job properly and, of those, three were independent.
AMI director general Chris Cummings says: “We are grateful that the report highlighted for consumers the difference between sales and advice. Consumers must be made aware what they are receiving. Independent mortgage advisers provide advice that is focused wholly on the individual consumer’s needs.
“In contrast, banks and build- ing societies may offer only generic information. Our recent research showed 8 in 10 consumers chose to use an intermediary precisely because of the value of advice. During difficult periods in the market, consumers need advice more than ever.”
However, Cummings adds that the report could have done more to distinguish its findings between the actions of independent advisers and those who sell products.
To pass the test set by Which?, advisers needed to provide and explain all required documentation, ensure that the individual could afford to repay the mortgage, explain available deals and repayment methods and advise on the most suitable option. Forty-one advisers failed to give one or more pieces of important information and 35 did not properly check that the individual could repay the mortgage.
The Mortgage Practitioner sole trader Danny Lovey says: “Most small independent mortgage consultants not only treat customers fairly but realise that the client is paramount. If you go to the high street, do not expect advice, expect selling.”