Regulation is fast approaching and anyone attending the Mortgage Expo last week will see why. Pole dancers on stands, bunny girls doing the rounds. Talk about a time warp – it was like being back in the 1980s. And you wonder why the FSA wants to clean up the intermediary market. This was just asking for trouble.
The FSA, which was also exhibiting at the Expo (minus hotpants), was shocked. Indeed, its concern was rightly expressed in private at last Thursday's IMLA meeting. Nothing had quite prepared it for some of the more bewildering, if not downright tacky, stand attractions.
Of course, our very own Mortgage Mole has featured some of the finest beauties in the industry. Who could ever forget the epic hunt for Laura Barnden? But there's a time and a place. A diary column is one thing but an exhibition endorsed and backed by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries that features pole dancing ladies? It's not exactly the image that the industry should be portraying – especially when the recent self-cert debacle has thrown it under such an intense spotlight.
The industry is already drinking in the last chance saloon. The Expo was the ideal occasion to show our future regulator how professional we are as an industry. Now it's simply a missed opportunity.
Lenders, packagers, networks and clubs all want your business at the moment – whether you decide to take the directly authorised or the appointed representative route into regulation. Either way there will soon come a point where you will have to decide what you are going to do. If you are thinking of following the AR trail, will you be swayed by a quick flash at the Expo or will you go for a more reasoned and sensible approach from your principal?
Cheap tricks and marketing glitz may attract the numbers but will it attract quality? At the end of the day if you don't make the right decision there's only going to be one loser – you.