Advisers must focus on quality

It was long said that the financial services sector would consolidate in 2008 and 2009 but there was scant evidence of this until last week when the Financial Services Authority revealed that some 769 mortgage advice firms have thrown in the towel.

This could equate to about 2,000 individual advisers, but what do we know of the true extent of this exodus from the industry?

The sad fact is that many firms will find themselves victims of circumstance and go under purely as a result of banks’ apparent unwillingness to provide finance to help them continue operating.

One wonders what the FSA’s register will say later this year. I suspect many firms have quietly gone under and when the register is updated the true figure of business collapses will be a lot higher.

The firms that remain need to look at their business models and decide if these are in sync with the economic environment.

A good example of this is John Charcol’s recent announcement that it is scrapping its fees-free option – is it really a unique selling point to be fees-free these days?

Many IFAs have always charged fees for their advice, but they have traditionally offered broad product offerings.

Which brings us to the big question – is mortgage advice alone a sustainable business these days?

The mortgage brokers who survive will be the ones who can provide their customers with the quality advice and service they now demand.