Five years ago the world was gripped with insecurity. What would the year 2000 bring? IT anoraks predicted computer chaos. The media was in a frenzy, suggesting that kettles wouldn't work, cars wouldn't start and planes would fall out of the sky. In short, the world as we knew it would end. In preparation, IT spend over the years 1999 through to 2001 increased by some 200%.
But what happened? People, companies, whole countries went on with business as usual – kettles worked, computers didn't miss a beat, cars continued to start and planes stayed up.
And now here we are in September 2004, about to experience our own millennium – the mortgage millennium.
John Maltby, chief executive of Kensington Mortgage Company and chairman of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders' Association, sent out a stark message at last week's annual dinner.
“Every lender, every intermediary and every arranger will have to comply or cease trading,” he told invited guests. “Everyone, both professionally and personally, will be affected by these changes. Once again there is speculation about our future, the future of our market and the potential impact of the changes. We've seen lenders shutting down for business – we've had a flurry of activity to buy, sell or merge, particularly in the intermediary sector. We've seen huge amounts spent on IT, compliance and changing the way we do business.”
So what will happen? There will be fewer people selling mortgages, there will be fewer companies involved in selling those mortgages and there will be fewer companies lending money.
But as Maltby points out, the future role of intermediaries and lenders remains clear and largely unchanged.
And although the pressures and challenges will increase, so too will the opportunities. The difference between success and failure will be greater than ever before. But we do have a future, and it is in our own hands.