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Anti-packager hysterics were wrong

Yet again, this week’s subject matter stems from the letters pages of Mortgage Strategy.

In last week’s edition, Simon Mouncher’s excellent letter was published under the headline, ‘Lenders are preparing to attract business direct from the broker sector’. Tone and content were interesting and stimulating in equal measure

With the onset of regulation it suited some lenders to pontificate on the future of the packager market. Some were more vociferous than others but the column inches the anti-packaging commentators generated was nothing more than speculation. There was not a shred of evidence to suggest the packager market would implode under the burden of regulation and disappear because lenders would not deal with them. Such views would now be seen as hysterical.

What did those who were convinced packagers would not survive think would happen to the production worth many billions each year? Who would package and market the cases?

With 12 months elapsed since statutory regulation, the only hysteria now to be heard is in the accumulated laughter of packagers that are still here, still in business and doing record volumes.

This outcome does not mean the packaging sector can afford to be complacent. Indeed all sectors of the industry, whether packager, intermediary or lender, must guard against complacency. Together we must deal with the challenges ahead. Industries are littered with cases where external change has altered the business environment to such an extent that once accepted paradigms no longer hold good.

My colours have always been firmly nailed to the mast in support of packagers. I have written in this column on a number of occasions in support of the market. In fact, last time was at the height of anti-packaging hysteria in the early Autumn of 2004.

Those who sat on the sidelines and sniped then were wrong. The reason they were so wrong is that they used the smokescreen of regulation to distance themselves from a distribution channel that, for reasons that have never been clear to me, they no longer wanted to use.

Now, packagers are in rude health and ready to face the commercial challenges ahead.

I will take this opportunity to respond to Mouncher’s call to arms. At Infinity, what is crucial is the choice the intermediary has who they package with. The broker has two choices – send us an unpackaged case or use a packager. We support both routes but predominately deal with brokers direct. We are not turning our backs on any distribution channel. You can’t say fairer than that. Simon biddle


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