Glasnost is needed among lenders

I have been following the unfolding story of len-ders supplying brokers with mortgage account information with growing interest.

The issue of what has become known as client authorisation has become muddied, with lenders taking differing approaches to it. And excellent work by the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has fallen on deaf ears. This is an own goal for lenders, the wider industry and for our customers.

It doesn’t seem like a tough nut to crack. AMI has put in place a solution that works for all parties. It has supplied a letter that, when signed by a client, allows an intermediary to receive information about the account if the lender is willing. So far, response has been muted. It’s hard to see why.

Much of the frustration surrounds lenders preventing this flow of information by citing the Data Protection Act. This has been headed off at the pass by the Commissioner of Data Protection issuing guidance that should sweep away lender objections. It couldn’t be clearer – brokers should only seek access to information when necessary. There should be restrictions in the client authorisation to only allow information of a certain nature to be given unless the client has given unrestricted access. There should also be agreement on the length of time the authorisation lasts.

It must be frustrating for brokers. Everything is fine and dandy during the application process but after completion the door closes. The information that brokers feel they need to help their clients is not complex. It includes redemption balances, essential in working out new mortgage requirements; payment details, especially when responding to direct customer requests; and details on customer retention policies, further advances and complaints. There is a clear need for this information.

Cynics say that lenders not supplying this information hides their real agenda which is to cut brokers out. Perhaps direct to customer retention strategies can be employed? This could be seen as no more than a basic approach to supporting distribution that is intermediary-based.

So it’s a big thumbs up to AMI for listening to member feedback and pushing the issue up the agenda. This gives me the chance to review our policy. It is a surprise that the bulk of the lending industry hasn’t adopted an open approach. I hope to see some glasnost soon.