Lenders must vet mortgage clubs, says network boss

Lenders that are cracking down on distribution and looking for volume before quality are endangering the reputation of the industry.

Speaking exclusively to Mortgage Strategy Gerry O’Brien, chief executive officer of Home of Choice, says he believes some mortgage clubs only find their way onto lenders’ preferred panels because of the volume of business they do.

He wants to see lenders carry out the same checks on clubs as they do on networks.

He says: “If one of my advisers defaults a client, as CEO of Home of Choice I am held responsible. Not only do we stringently vet advisers before they join us, we continuously check the business they write.

“I do not want to be held liable for the faults of rogue brokers, now or in the future.”

He says the brokers his network declines should not be in business, yet they are allowed to continue trading through mortgage clubs.

Home of Choice has rejected some 900 advisers since its launch because they did not meet its standards.

O’Brien adds: “Whenever we hear of a mortgage broker being fined by the Financial Services Authority it comes as no surprise if they are directly authorised.

“We know that many DA brokers are struggling with the Treating Customers Fairly initiative and other regulatory requirements.”

He adds: “Good lenders should do their homework properly and ensure they only do business with high quality networks and clubs.”

Home of Choice managed to arr-ange more than £8m in prime mortgages last year, which has led O’Brien to call for a more qualitative approach from lenders.

But Martin Reynolds, develop-ment director at PMS, says: “I don’t think lenders are looking for volume at the moment – it’s all about quality.

“Every club’s business model is different but we are able to see who is carrying out DA brokers’ compliance and check that.”

He adds: “Lenders can check the business coming in from their clubs and see if what they are getting is good quality.”

O’Brien also says that Home of Choice is back on the acquisition trial after a tough 2008 and it expects to end the year with at least one purchase under its belt.