Agencies retrain staff after television exposé

Estate agency firms offering financial advice to clients have moved to discipline or retrain staff involved in selfcertification following a BBC exposé.

Townends, Barnard Marcus, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, and Bairstow Eve Countrywide were among estate agency companies identified in The Money Programme&#39s investigation into the market last week.

Mortgage Strategy understands Townends has temporarily suspended advice on self-cert cases in addition to recalling its sales staff for retraining and suspending one adviser who appeared in Wednesday night&#39s programme.

Frank Abian, sales manager at Townends, says: “Self-cert is only suitable for individuals who have the income, who are heavily bonus-based and who know from previous years exactly what they are going to be earning. It should not misrepresent actual earnings.”

And Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward has also confirmed that one of its consultants has since left the company.

John Phillips, financial services director, says: “As far as I am aware, none of our financial advisers would tell someone to lie on a mortgage form. I was surprised and disappointed to hear one of them may have done this.”

Though the fallout from the programme looks likely to affect mortgage lenders, brokers and estate agents, some say guidelines on self-certification income would be difficult to police.

Melfyn Williams, president of the National Association of Estate Agents, adds: “We would be disappointed if people were pointing the finger of blame at the estate agencies involved.”