Despite the seemingly never-ending and fruitless shenanigans going on at the top levels of government, the year got off to a better start in the broker world. The FSCS unveiled its fees for the financial year 2019 to 2020, which included a considerably lower levy for brokers than the year prior – £18m less to be precise.
Brokers no longer have to pay towards pensions and investment claims, so the new fee is £4m for the year, topped up by £1m to be contributed by providers after the FCA last year ruled they should pay 25 per cent of adviser fees.
Fair credit must be given to the Association for Mortgage Intermediaries in its relentless lobbying for the reduction in levies. The persistence paid off.
The MPC held the base rate at 0.75 per cent last week, which will have surprised few, but means that mortgage rates should remain at historically low levels for the foreseeable.
Given the rates now available, it was further good news to hear that the FCA plans to help mortgage prisoners lumbered with products they can’t afford. But there is no need to wait for the regulator if there’s something you can do to help clients stuck with products they are struggling to pay for.
The start of February saw the broker interviews take place for the final round of the Mortgage Strategy awards, and while the general mood music around the property market may be one of uncertainty and hesitation, given the current economic climate, these interviews proved that brokers and distributors are not wasting any time innovating and moving the market forward.
The passion and commitment of advisers is always refreshing and the presentations proved that whatever happens this year, brokers will adapt. There may be far fewer brokers in the market than 10 years ago, but the quality of those who remain is exceptional.
This will be my final editor’s note for a while as I am taking a break to have a baby! From 22 February I’ll be leaving Mortgage Strategy in the capable hands of the existing editorial team and a couple of other familiar faces. I am sure I’ll be back in touch with the industry when I get the chance, but for now it’s ‘slán go fóill’!