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Starter For 10 No Conferring…

One of my favourite sites at the moment apart from Twitter – I am now
following Richard Bacon & Stephen Fry, go figure – is the wonderful where you can go to ask questions about, well, all
things financial.

To pinch some of their sales pitch, “the site is FREE, unbiased, and
your question will be tailor-answered by national financial journalists,
editors and authors, Annie Shaw, Laura Howard or Simon Read – lovely
people by the way – or one of their panel of 14 other registered
journalists, backed up by a hand-picked team of independent financial

Sites as good as this will naturally flourish in the current environment
to satisfy the need for knowledge and advice by anyone independent who
knows what they are talking about. We have ourselves seen a rise in the
number of people wanting to take advice as trust in the banks ebbs
further away.

It is funny therefore that some major lending institutions look to offer
products directly through their branches and not make them available to
brokers. I have never understood this tact. Doesn’t this encourage
people not to take independent advice, the very people who may need it
most? Why does anyone go to any financial institution or broker where
they can only offer one providers products?

For example, if a broker ties in to one life insurance provider, the
premiums are often higher for the customer!

We all know that nowadays the actual headline rate does not mean it is
the one best suited for a customer. There are fees, and penalties and
collars and service and revert to rates and customer retention and a
whole host of other things to bear in mind.

It’s all very well offering a great rate, but if you end up trying to
move an iceburg, without talking to an actual decision maker, only to be
told after 6 weeks “sorry computer says no”, or “we now need your inside
leg measurement”, you have lost the property you wanted or got so bored
by the remortgage process you end up taking an inferior rate with your
current lender anyway.

It’s time for the market place to be evened out. Yes I know as brokers
we used to get, and in some cases still do, products that were better
than those obtained directly. However, these were originally offered
because the broker did the hard work for the lender, saw the client,
took the advice risk and marketed the product that enabled a cost saving
to be achieved.

I have always subscribed to the Martin Lewis school of thought when
looking for a mortgage. First, go to your bank. Second, do some online
research yourself to see what is out there. Third, go to a respected
independent broker, not just to see if they can do any better, but to
make sense of it all and confirm that the product you think is the best,
is actually the best.

If you are still not convinced, places like are a good


Assurant Solutions appoints UK and Ireland MD

Assurant Solutions has appointed Drazen Jaksic to take over from Ian Moffatt with immediate effect as the company’s UK and Ireland managing director.

Natural selection is good for brokers

Apparently 769 mortgage brokers have left the industry in the past year – yet another Financial Services Authority headline that has received a negative spin in the trade press.

Stonehaven launches Interest Select

Specialist equity release provider Stonehaven has launched Interest Select, a product which allows customers to choose the amount of interest they pay per month on their lifetime mortgage.


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