Many years ago when Tony Blair’s approval ratings were positive our soon to be ex-prime minister talked of a new age of politics and styled this as ‘the third way’. This wouldn’t be a government working on the basis of political polarisation – reliant on ‘left’ or ‘right’ – but a completely new way of delivering change.
With hindsight we now know ‘the third way’ actually involved a simple move to the centre ground with forays into ‘left’ or ‘right’ whenever Blair decided it was time to show how tough he was. So for issues such as devolution/regional parliaments he skipped leftwards, while for forays into international disagreements/all-out war, he marched to the right. The concept of ‘the third way’ therefore turned out to be a mirage.
It has occurred to me the packaging community offers its own version of ‘the third ” There was agreement that a code of practice firms could sign up to may be a better outcome than formal authorisation by the FSA”way’. Over the years packagers have offered a new way for intermediaries to place business and lenders to accept it. This has been enormously popular and recent figures suggest the number of mortgage cases submitted through packagers continues to grow. So, in this sense the influence of the packaging community has never been higher.
And yet there is a nagging suspicion among the packaging fraternity that their influence among decision-takers and policy-makers, such as the Financial Services Authority is nowhere near as high. This is why at the recent Packaging Summit I suggested the setting up of a Packager Task Force to ascertain the direction packagers wished to take and how they would like the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries to be involved in putting the packager case to the regulator and the wider marketplace.
Our first task force meeting was held this month and brought together a wide range of packager representatives and the major associations. The idea was to discuss the needs and the goals of packagers and to put in place a structure within AMI to deliver the messages packagers at the table felt had been lost since statutory regulation was introduced.
There were differing opinions on the need for regulation, what packagers would be regulated for, and the benefits or otherwise of being regulated. There was a general agreement that if the packaging community could come up with a code of practice firms could sign up to, this may be a better outcome than formal authorisation by the regulator.
The meeting also focused on the European dimension. The EU Commission recently set the terms of reference for a study of ‘credit intermediaries’ which would undoubtedly include packagers. AMI recently met with the European Commissioner overseeing this project and explained the role of the packager within the UK’s mortgage process. It is at this level that AMI can ensure those who will be shaping the market are aware of the potential impact on all stakeholders of their decisions.
We are not looking for ‘the third way’ in terms of packager representation but AMI has a ready-made structure to enable the voice of packagers to be heard. If the enthusiasm at the first meeting is anything to go by the Packager Task Force can be certain of delivering benefits to the packaging community.