I have been watching the exchange between Richard Griffiths (in the red corner) and Neal Smith (in the blue corner) over the past few weeks with growing interest.
Call me biased but I think Neal is right. Richard claims that his list was only meant to contain new mortgage networks. Excuse me but second one on the list is Burns-Anderson – I think he'll find that's been around for a few years now.
I can't think of a word that will make anyone head for a dictionary but one appropriate word does spring to mind – accuracy. Welcome to the land of compliance Mr Griffiths – the one where the written word is your insurance policy. If your piece had been a 'reasons why' to a client, think of the PI claim – insufficient explanation in the body text and a list that draws clients to wrong decision.
Neal's other point is that Richard should stick to writing articles about regulation. Quite right too if that is the page's title. Then Richard says Neal is hypocritical as he covers subjects such as shared appreciation mortgages under the banner of training. But T&C means keeping up to date on all areas as a mortgage broker.
Richard's third point relates to the demise of Interlink. He says that Neal could have taken the opportunity to explain why Whitechurch is still in business and Interlink isn't. Whitechurch is still here because we run a tight ship in terms of both finances and compliance. We're in profit and have only had two complaints against us in four years of trading (none of which have been upheld).
You have to put the two together to judge the strength of a network. Interlink apparently had some accounting issues – that's the financial bit – but I believe it also had a PI issue. Having lots of income is great until you end up spending it all on fines and complaints.
Of course, the crux of this letter is not about the discussion between Richard and Neal but about the fact that all these new networks seem to think that because they have been clubs or packagers in the past, the compliance bit is a simple bolt-on. We already have IF in dispute with Sesame over money changing hands for panel positioning – a complete disgrace. If that's done under the banner of a club then fine but compliance is about making sure a sale is correct for the consumer and with tight enough paperwork to protect your backside if the client complains in the future.
Even the lenders seems to be following suit. Some don't understand that we do the compliance for our members and are not a club. Others ask how they can get onto our panel. Er, we don't have one. They then ask if having our members dealing with all and sundry makes the regulator nervous. The answer is no – it checks our files and makes sure everything is in order. This is called compliance.
Once we agree a common definition of what each constituent part of the mortgage chain does then life will be easier. Mortgage brokers will still have a burning ambition to sell mortgages after October. Let them get on with it, using lenders, packagers and clubs in the same way they have always done. The only difference is that there is now a new auditor on the block – the network.
The Whitechurch Network