Ami and BSA criticise focus on price in interim mortgage market report

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and the Building Societies Association have accused the FCA of unduly focusing on price in its interim report into the mortgage market.

The interim report was published in May and the trade bodies have now replied directly to questions leveled by the regulator following the report.

Both associations argue that the report focused too heavily on price, echoing Ami chief executive Robert Sinclair’s thoughts made in Mortgage Strategy over the last few months.

“Price is important, but there are a range of other factors, including speed and quality of service that are important too,” the BSA writes in its response.

While Ami says that: “It is not acceptable that suitability has not been properly considered.”

In fact, the FCA report states that in 79 per cent of transactions the cheapest product is recommended.

Ami says this is “baffling” that this level “is not considered an adequate outcome.”

“The only winners in a price driven, commoditised market would be those lenders with the deepest pockets.  Effectively competition, innovation and much needed specialist mortgage products would be eroded,” concludes the BSA.

A “narrow view of the role of advice,” as Ami puts it, is also a concern. It takes issue with the report’s conclusion that in some cases a customer who did receive advice would have ended up with the same product if they had not spoken to an adviser, branding this “dangerous to assume”.

Another criticism is the relevance of the review considering the time span that its research covers (2015 and 2016), especially in the context of encouraging innovation, which the FCA has proposed to do via amending rules of defining advice. BSA head of mortgage and housing policy Paul Broadhead says: “the market has moved on considerably since the report and must continue to do so in order to remain fit for purpose and be able adapt to constantly evolving customer needs.”

“The progress made by the industry and by new fintech entrants in the last year is largely ignored,” says Ami, and adds that: “we are strongly against any proposal to change the definition of advice.”

Furthermore, Ami is critical of the FCA’s understanding of the mortgage market in its response to a series of questions. It mentions that, “the FCA study team does not appear to have a clear understanding of the difference between a panel and a mortgage club,” that, “the findings do not appear to take into account the vast difference in regional lending choice such as across Northern Ireland compared to mainland UK,” as well as declaring that, “the limitations of using Moneyfacts as the sole source of mortgage products have not been recognised.”

“Notwithstanding the above and our responses,” concludes the Ami response, “[Ami] remains fully committed to working with the FA, industry and other trade bodies to debate this study, agree the appropriate remedies and actions and deliver the agreed changes to the market to improve the outcomes for all consumers.”



Opinion: The market is impelled to change

Firms are already moving forward on the issues noted in the FCA’s Mortgages Market Study – so are the proposed interventions required? Following my article last month on the significant work undertaken by the FCA that is set out in their Mortgages Market Study Interim Report, it is important that I return to the same […]


Industry responds to FCA interim mortgage market study

  Today the FCA published its interim report into mortgage market competition, first mooted in 2015. The Financial Conduct Authority has singled out mortgage prisoners, shopping around and a broker comparison service as areas of the market that need change. The news sparked a wave of responses from the industry. UK Finance director of mortgages […]

Paul Smee

Mortgage market study must focus on big picture, says Smee

Mortgage market research is in danger of data overload When the FCA announced the mortgage market study in December, we welcomed the constructive approach to view lenders’ practices and potential influences on customer outcomes. Four months on, at the data collection stage, there is growing concern that the study is lacking the focus needed to […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up