Welcome efforts to support borrowers

It\'s hard to believe that it\'s March already and spring has sprung, although there have been Easter eggs on sale in the shops since shortly after Christmas.

The best thing about the change in the weather at this time of year is planning holidays and I’m sure many readers will be looking forward to breaks somewhere to recuperate after a busy start to the year.

For example, the Financial Services Authority launched its mortgage advertising campaign on February 24. This is aimed at borrowers looking to remortgage and first-time buyers and provides a straightforward list of things to look out for when buying.

It’s good to see the regulator providing this sort of information to consumers, especially in the prevailing uncertain market.

The FSA has also launched its Moneymadeclear.fsa. gov.uk website, which provides financial advice for a range of clients. It offers useful tools including debt tests as well as loan, mortgage and pension calculators. The website provides consumers with the information they need to consider their financial commitments and ensure they are taking a long-term approach to planning.

We strive to illustrate the benefits of taking a more holistic approach to finance so it’s good to see another step being taken in this direction. In my opinion, professional advice is always the best option for consumers, with brokers playing a key role in administering it to ensure their clients get products that are best suited to their needs.

According to the FSA’s snappily named report Mortgage product sales data trends published last year, 71% of the mortgages taken out between April 2006 and March 2007 were advised sales. The report shows that most consumers seek advice to ensure they make the right financial decisions.

This proportion will increase throughout cammy amaira 2008 because many borrowers are unsure of the best moves to make in the prevailing market conditions and are seeking brokers’ guidance as a result.

Recent figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal that gross mortgage lending rose to £26.5bn in January. This figure is up 11% compared with December 2007, which demonstrates robustness in the housing market at the start of the year and is a welcome counterbalance to the pessimism surrounding the industry.

So with demand for remortgaging expected to be strong in 2008, brokers’ advice and the FSA’s support campaigns and website will play a big role in ensuring consumers get the products that best suit their needs. And after all, that’s the most important thing.