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Though the Mortgage Packager Summit in Monte Carlo was an informing and opulent event, as some wag put it: “At the rate the mortgage industry is shredding, next year’s event could be held in a telephone booth in Brighton.” Though I am not that gloomy, my confidence in the ability of the industry to repair and reconstruct itself over time has been examined.

Confidence is the key word. Those who at Christmas thought that spring would herald the return to normality have been sorely disappointed. The indiscriminate way that the liquidity crunch has taken bites out of the industry has shaken everyone. Confidence in our industry is grounded on trust, and it saddened me to see an element of mistrust manifesting itself at the Summit.

The topic that caused exchanges was the lending sector’s handling of product withdrawal and criteria changes. Trust only occurs in sound relationships and it is now seriously important that the relationships between lenders and distributors be worked at.

Having worked on both sides of the industry I have sympathy for both parties. When businesses are on the defensive decisions have to be made and they are sometimes brutal. Just talk to all those lender employees who have been made redundant and will have little chance of finding a job in the industry.

Lenders and distributors have to communicate more effectively and intimately to build up that trust that will over time restore confidence. Confidence doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it reflects the effective working together for the common health of our industry. We are all aware that we will be on the defensive for a while to come so let’s build and man the trenches together. Send three and four pence we’re going to a dance!

That said, I greatly appreciated the Summit and returned better informed and slightly the worse for wear.

On another matter, does the outside world really know the severity of the liquidity storm that is sweeping our industry? I try to explain to friends and acquaintances the loss of business, the redundancies and the hugely increase pressures for individual firms, and they simply smile back. Let us hope that this does not spill out into the broader economy.

Once again many thanks Centaur and TMB, I think a telephone booth is a bit too small I know a good pub with a decent size room above. See you all next year.

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