What a difference a year makes

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has come out with some depressing statistics that, if true, show despite regulation having been around for almost a year, both lenders and brokers are still stumbling over the basics.

Almost a quarter of brokers rate getting Key Facts Illustration as the bane of their lives. Record keeping and regulatory reporting, both voted for by 22% of brokers who responded to AMI’s September census, were identified as the most difficult aspects of regulation. Obtaining KFIs from sourcing systems and increased training and competence requirements also rated high in terms of broker bugbears.

The biggest swing though seems to be in the attitude of brokers towards regulation. Polls carried out earlier in the year showed the majority of intermediaries welcoming mortgage regulation as a way of increasing standards.

What a difference a year makes. Perhaps taking their cue from the likes of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, for whom the party line is that regulation has been a sledgehammer to crack a nut, almost half of intermediaries now believe regulation has made no difference to the quality of advice provided to consumers.

A coordinated approach to help brokers produce KFIs more easily for customers should now be a top priority. Equally, enabling firms to communicate with the Financial Services Authority must be made easier. Many have been confused by information requirements in their first Retail Mediation Activities Return and AMI has called on the FSA to take steps to address this problem.

But it’s just as important that brokers take a long look in the mirror and note their own deficiencies. It’s vital that brokers realise comprehensive record keeping is in their own interests. Not only is it a regulatory requirement but firms expose themselves to complaints if they cannot clearly provide evidence of the suitability of advice given to clients months and even years after the event.