51,000 advisers qualify before deadline

Almost 51,000 mortgage advisers have now passed their compulsory professional qualification exams, the Mortgage Code Compliance Board reveals.

The exams were introduced in May 2001 as part of the Board&#39s fitness and competence requirements to enhance consumer protection and raise industry standards, with a qualification deadline of December 31 2002. Although many advisers left qualification until late in 2002, 31 left it to the last possible moment by qualifying on New Year&#39s Eve.

Luke March, chief executive of the MCCB, says: “These excellent final figures speak for themselves. After so many knocks to the financial services industry in 2002, it is great to start the new year with such a positive message.

“We are hugely encouraged by the commitment of the industry to raise standards through the adoption of our fitness and competence requirements and through gaining professional qualifications. The enthusiasm of individual mortgage advisers to undertake examinations and gain qualifications and to increase standards of professionalism is highly commendable.”

The Mortgage Board&#39s compliance team will begin the monitoring of firms&#39 compliance with the new requirements from this month. Although all other aspects of compliance with the Code and registration rules will receive their usual attention, training and competence, especially qualifications, will have a special focus in coming months. Checks on evidence of qualification, supervision arrangements and reviews of firms&#39 sales processes are planned for 2003.

Under the requirements any adviser providing mortgage advice and recommendation must have completed either the CeMAP or be FPC or CeFA qualified and have passed either the CeMAP Bridge paper or MAQ. From January 1 2003, those not qualified will be unable to advise on mortgages except under supervision by a qualified and competent adviser.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders has welcomed the announcement by the Mortgage Code Compliance Board that 51,000 mortgage advisers in the UK have now passed their qualification exams.

The CML says the step is “hugely significant” in setting high standards for mortgage selling in advance regulation by the FSA in 2004.

The new qualifications became compulsory for mortgage advisers from the beginning of 2003. Any advisers who did not meet the qualification deadline will now have to operate under the supervision of a qualified adviser until they pass one of the relevant exams.

Michael Coogan, CML director-general, says: “The MCCB and mortgage advisers have made a big effort to get the industry qualified and to demonstrate a professional approach to the selling of mortgages.

“The CML continues to see a crucial role for the Mortgage Code and for the MCCB in advance of the move to statutory mortgage regulation in 2004. We believe that the FSA will be inheriting an industry which has largely succeeded in getting its own house in order in regulatory terms, thanks to the way in which lenders and advisers have embraced the voluntary regulation of the Mortgage Code and the authority of the MCCB.”