Leader: FSA gets it right for once

The Financial Services Authority’s speech at the Mortgage Business Expo last week has been greeted by the industry as that rare thing – a spot of good news from the regulator.

The FSA’s speech in 2009 made a lot of people hot under the collar and it became an opportunity to let off some much-needed steam. Not for nothing did our report of the event carry the headline ’Brokers bay for FSA’s blood at Expo’.

This year the speech garnered a more sober reaction. In part this was probably down to the fact that over the last year many have accepted the new mortgage world order.

But another reason why the regulator received a more considered reaction was that the message delivered could potentially be better than expected news for brokers.

Many are privately delighted by what was said on the subject of qualifications, with both branch advisers and brokers expected to have the existing standard of a Level 3 mortgage qualification.

To train staff to this level would not be a cheap undertaking and has the potential for lenders to view dealing with brokers as the cheaper option. The possibility that this could see the pendulum swing again in brokers’ favour is a reason to cheer.

As always, the devil will be in the detail – the decision to axe the Initial Disclosure Document but keep the Key Facts Illustration has left some in their market scratching their heads. Ditto how brokers’ role in conducting eligibility and appropriateness tests in reality would be any different from what they currently do.

Without doubt the next Mortgage Market Review paper on distribution, due out this week, will make for interesting reading.