It’s time the vultures stopped circling the packaging sector

Chris Gardner\'s letter about packagers bleeding to death (Mortgage Strategy March 3) no doubt was intended to elicit a strong reaction.

In this country, we are lucky to enjoy the right of free speech but we still have to get our facts straight.

Unfortunately, Gardner’s opinions seem to involve making plenty of accusations without providing the facts to back them up.

Where are the statistics to prove that most packagers are not financially fit and have diminishing pipelines?

Even as chairman of the Professional Mortgage Packagers Alliance, an organisation whose members distribute substantial numbers of mortgages for lenders, I would not presume to make this sort of rash generalisation about such a diverse sector.

As yet I haven’t heard of any PMPA member visiting the doctor to stem their fatal bleeding – in fact, most are experiencing increasing demand for their services.

Presumably Gardner does not use the services of any of our members or any other packager, so his knowledge of the advantages they can offer is less than perfect.

My warning to him is to be careful what he wishes for. Does he really want the industry to lose the benefits of ex-clusive products and generic application forms that make switching lenders easy to achieve – an especially useful feature at the moment as products are being pulled with little or no notice for customers?

Does he think the market can afford to say goodbye to the technology and point-of-sale facilities many packagers have invested in?

All these benefits will disappear if the packaging sector becomes extinct so a future without it may not be as glorious as Gardner imagines.

But I agree with him that only the fit will survive the present market crisis. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that in any downturn there will be casualties and packagers are not exempt from this rule of survival.

But a few failing businesses do not equate to the demise of a whole layer of mortgage distribution.

Our experience at PMPA is that many lenders are committed to packager distribution. They are striving to create strong relationships with packagers that will be able to deliver the volumes and quality of business they’ll require once the market returns.

And when it comes to vultures, perhaps Gardner should examine his own attitudes more closely. He should take account of the facts rather than relying on wishful thinking. It’s time to stop circling around the packaging sector because it’s alive and kicking.

Vic Jannels
Chairman
Professional Mortgage Packagers Alliance
By email