Halifax branch adviser takes top prize for poaching clients

From John Sparks

Having been in the financial services industry for nearly 30 years I have come across many advisers who have tried to persuade clients that the contract they offer is better than the one advised by us but I think the mortgage adviser in our local Halifax branch must take the top prize for poaching business.

We recently arranged a new mortgage for a client who had a five-year fixed rate with Halifax with three years to run with a redemption penalty in excess of 1,000. We contacted Halifax direct and were informed that its online system could not identify the old product but this would be adjusted manually.

This was done and an offer issued to our client. This was after the client had received an offer of a 4.89% two-year fixed rate but it was amended to include both products, thus avoiding paying a redemption penalty about which we were informed by Halifax.

Fine, but within two weeks of completing the mortgage my client went into his local Halifax branch to ask for a redemption figure on his existing mortgage. He was seen by the mortgage adviser who asked why he wanted this figure.

My client explained that he was moving house and was porting this product to save on the redemption payment. The adviser told my client that as he was borrowing more capital the redemption penalty would be waived. My client said that Halifax had not informed him of this and the adviser told him that this could only be completed within branches.

My client then asked for an illustration to be sent to his home address. The client did not receive an illustration but he did receive a new mortgage offer.

So the adviser had gone into the client’s account, copied all the details onto the new offer, used the valuation obtained by us and got Halifax to issue a fresh mortgage offer under a different number.

Meanwhile, I visited the client to discuss appropriate insurance at which point he produced the new offer and confirmed that the redemption penalty had been waived. Feeling let down by Halifax I contacted our BDM who said that this procedure was incorrect and that she would look into it.

I then received a call from the manager of the branch who confirmed that the adviser had given the wrong advice and the client would incur a redemption penalty of about 1,000, but as the adviser had given the client the wrong information Halifax would have to accept the loss and pay the redemption penalty for the client.

I asked him where this would leave us and he said that if we could not pay the redemption penalty the branch would keep the business. Our company stood to lose about 800 from the deal and we could not pay the redemption penalty.

So our client has had a good deal and we are pleased for him but I am concerned that this sort of thing goes on in Halifax branches. Maybe it is desperate for business.

Anyway, at least the client still got his insurances with us.

John SparksMortgage consultant

Town & Country

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