Finance regulator ‘should not move backwards on MMR’, lenders say

The mortgage market does not want to see the FCA rowing back on the commitments it made in the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) around the need for advice, a leading group of lenders has said.

That was the view from a panel of industry figureheads taking part in the The Great Lender Debate held in London yesterday, who also felt that the sector should be actively ensuring that access to advice was available to all buyers that wanted it.

AMI chief executive Robert Sinclair asked the panel whether the FCA’s Mortgages Market Study Final Report deserved the criticism it had received, in that it seemed to focus too much on technology and it appeared to be wavering in its commitment to compel people to secure advice.

HSBC’s head of intermediary mortgages, Chris Pearson, responded: “We don’t want to see a row back from the MMR.” OneSavings Bank’s sales director, Adrian Moloney, added: “Advice is key, as there is a minefield of different products and options out there for borrowers.”

Lloyds Banking Group’s director of strategic partnerships, Esther Dijkstra, also argued that the FCA’s focus on price, over other measures of how suitable a mortgage is, should continue to be challenged by the industry, saying that the regulator needed to be “convinced otherwise” on this.

Dijkstra added that the regulator would be better concentrating on the “haves and have nots” in terms of access to mortgage advice.

However, Moloney also pointed out that there was “a greater deal of certainty around the Mortgages Market Study, plus some clear indicators of what it will mean” for the industry.

Each panel participant was also asked to provide advisers with suggestions on what they might want to do in order to develop their advice offerings in the future. Accord Mortgages’ director of intermediary distribution, Jeremy Duncombe, urged advisers “to use the technology to do all the hard work”, but also stressed that the market needed to be clear to consumers about when they were getting advice and when they were not.

Moloney also told advisers not to wait three months before the end of a deal to engage with their clients as they should “engage with them through the life of that mortgage”. Meanwhile, fellow panellist, Nationwide Building Society’s head of intermediary support and new build, Andy Dean, said that advisers should look at more specialist areas, suggesting there were currently “lots of areas showing a high degree of resilience and growth”.

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