We should pressure the IFS to provide a better service with its exam materials

From John Rattigan

Having just gone through the recent updates to CeMAP issued by the Institute of Financial Services, I am writing to express my frustration. I don’t know if it’s just me and the updates I have received or whether others in the industry who use CeMAP are having a similar experience. I would genuinely like to know, as this is not a subject that is regularly raised or discussed.

The updates are supposed to be a way of ensuring the material contained in the distance learning manual is up to date including industry changes, rule changes, and tax changes as well as corrections of previous errors.

Having reviewed the update, I am left wondering whether there is to be an update to the update. Why? Because there are numbering errors regarding both sections and pages. In some instances the sections referred to do not exist and in others, page references are incorrect. Given that CeMAP I had 70 pages of updates and CeMAP II had 66 pages of them, perhaps you can see why I have become increasingly angry when it comes to updating my manual.

I have yet to review whether the material contained in the updates is correct so, having gone through the initial frustration alone, I would be grateful if anyone who has already performed the material review could advise me of this.

And this is not only the learning material that has been updated. The specimen examination papers have also been reviewed and changed, the idea being that they are updated to reflect the changes in the learning material. The number of changes made has been minimal given the large number of updates. For example, on CeMAP I specimen paper A there have been three changes. On first review, it would seem the theme of errors being made in the updates continues through to the specimen papers as one of these questions seems to have been incorrectly updated. The question relates to the T&C record keeping requirement of three years. The IFS has changed the year and month in the question but has only changed the years in the answers, meaning none of the answers given can possibly be the one required.

I hope this letter sparks a debate and that pressure can be brought to bear on the Institute of Financial Services to provide what should be a flawless professional service – or is that expecting too much?

The morning I penned this letter I perused a client’s legal correspondence wherein an indemnity was deemed necessary on a fourth floor flat changing hands for the third time since it was built in 1970 to cover the fact that a blacksmith once ran a forge on the site of the flats and an anonymous suit thought this a good reason to stiff the buyer for 229 indemnity fee on exchange day in view of a possible environmental hazard. Come off it!

Moving on, in Julian’s experience it is “not typical” for a commission to be paid for implementing indemnity cover.

The Real World Embassy will advise you, Julian, that ‘not typical’ means that, in your limited experience, it does not happen a lot – let’s say 49% of the time. Well, my lawyer contacts tell me it happens 99% of the time. And dare I point out that if a fee is not forthcoming, that policy will not be sold?

Julian adds that should a fee be payable, the Law Society demands that this fact is “accounted” to the client. He does not say “refunded”. Bit of a

difference there, old bean.

He then signs off with an unnecessary dig, saying he is unsure if my proc fees are remitted to the client. Let me advise him as follows:

My proc fees from lenders are kept by me as they cover the costs of client acquisition, compliance, office and staff upkeep plus two or three visits to the client’s home not to mention umpteen calls to inefficient lawyers.

My fees charged to the client are also kept by me as I provide them with a unique service by way of speed and product, rescuing them from the high street overcharging sharks.

I also keep any commissions payable on various insurances relating to the mortgage.

I also keep the 90/100 per case paid by those enlightened legal firms I use for providing them with loads of conveyancing clients.

And that, my dear Julian, is the nub of the matter. We brokers are consistently getting more money per completion than lawyers because we do more for the client, we are more closely regulated, and what we do, we do at speed.

If lawyers tried to match us in those three areas then we would all be the better off for it.