Lenders must help intermediaries

Lenders must do more to understand and mitigate the problems of the broker community under the regulated regime if the industry is to avoid problems, says Frank Eve

Having looked at numerous systems and e-commerce platforms it is probably time for me to step back and get some perspective on what has become a complex e-commerce mortgage environment.

There is no doubt we are a long way from an online utopia. Life can still be difficult for the average mortgage adviser. Lenders can appear to be unaware of, or uninterested in, the everday problems advisers have in providing compliant advice while trying to make a profit.

Advisers still have to re-key information from sourcing systems to fact-finds and then to application forms. In many cases, if advisers want an online decision from a variety of lender websites they have the problem of multiple passwords and identifications to remember. There are still problems with data on sourcing systems and if an adviser takes Key Facts Illustration information from sourcing systems they can run a compliance risk concerning the accuracy of that data.

Sometimes this process has to be done in a client’s home with all the communications problems that entails in terms of systems that can only be accessed online. It is also true that many of the best products come from lenders paying the lowest commissions and although speed of service can be important, it is not the critical factor in all cases.

Once an adviser has managed the compliant selection of the product and provided the KFI they have then the application process to complete. If an adviser is going to send the case online to a lender they will need to input the additional information – or in some cases all the information yet again. Brokers also have to collect more data for insurance protection products and this data will have to go a different route with different underwriting problems.

Even when an application is in the hands of a lender or packager there may be still more hurdles to jump as tracking cases online can mean entering different passwords into lenders’ systems without any aggregated view of all cases in a broker’s pipeline. When the case completes there is still the problem of making sure that all commissions and proc fees that should be paid are paid to an adviser at the correct time and reconciled correctly. Nowhere can a broker find one consolidated statement of all commissions due from all their lender partners.

And all this has to be done within a regulated framework, meaning that at some point all the case data will be collected by the Financial Services Authority from lenders and advisers for analysis to see if the advice procedures of the broker were compliant. Given the fragmented nature of the advice process, it will be interesting to see how the FSA will go about this task and what the outcome will be.

I suspect there are problems in store for the industry unless more effort is put into understanding the needs of brokers by the lender community.