The leaflet suggests that if consum-ers have fixed or discounted rate deals coming to an end or if they are moving house, they should go to the regulator’s website Moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk for impartial information.
I visited the website and was expecting to see generic information about who might choose a fixed rate deal and why, or perhaps a bit of advice about affordability.
But I was horrified to see far more than generic information. The website has a fact-find in place that leads customers to a basic mortgage sourcing system. So whether they want a fixed rate deal or not, the FSA’s version of Trigold pops up.
In the example I tried, it told me that a remortgage product from Halifax had the lowest initial rate.
Obviously there are loads of issues here about how misleading league tables are and I was looking for a statement somewhere on the page saying that clients should always consult independent brokers before proceeding. But it’s not there.
Instead, it says: “Always confirm product details with the provider or an adviser.”
But it’s too late. Although the regulator is careful to include a disclaimer saying it is not making recommendations, what does it think consumers will make of its comparison tables?
If the industry watchdog says this Halifax product is best, clients are likely to wander into the lender’s nearest branch, which means they possibly won’t end up with the most appropriate product.
It also cuts out the same brokers the FSA wants to distribute its idiotic leaflets.
There are dozens of factors that need to be taken into account when recommending mortgages other than the initial rate – deeds release fees, daily or annual interest, possibility of overpayments, payment holidays, service standards and so on.
I’m sure I don’t need to list them all or point out that only independent brokers can deliver the correct solutions for customers.
The FSA website’s homepage infuriates me further.
It reads: “No selling. No jargon. Just the facts.”
This is just garbage.
It should read: “Plenty of jargon. Some facts. Misleading sourcing results.”
The mortgage process can be complicated and for the regulator to point consumers directly to lenders rather than brokers is unbelievable.
There’s a joke about British Gas and pelicans both sticking bills up their arses. It doesn’t quite work here but you get the gist.
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