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Analysis: Talking to a computer won’t do


Is it surprising that bank branches are shutting? Why would a borrower go to a bank where they can only get advice on one lender’s mortgage range when they could go to a qualified mortgage broker and get information on up to 50 lenders?

The only way someone could get something even close to comparable would be to go through the same lengthy three-hour advice process several times over with different lenders, but even then they would not have access to the exclusive products made available to brokers.

In some bank branches, potential borrowers need to wait up to three weeks for an appointment, while in others the borrower does not even get to see someone – rather they need to interact with a version of Skype. This is just wrong where a face-to-face meeting was sought. It is the biggest financial purchase of their life and they are left talking to a computer rather than having any real engagement.

If they are also given protection advice, it is likely this will also be a single tie with one provider and in some cases the premiums will be loaded, leaving the consumer to pay much more than they would have to for the same product elsewhere.

But how many potential borrowers would know this? A better use of the money given to the Money Advice Service would be to run a campaign to drive people to qualified mortgage advisers. Otherwise how do we stand a chance of making people know they exist? If more branch closures mean people getting proper advice from qualified advisers from a full range of products, branch closures can only be a positive.



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  • Baron Bolligrew 30th July 2014 at 12:21 pm

    So often there are highfalutin comments made by those that must be heard but it rarely actually helps the masses. Just look at the ‘Heath Report’ that suggests that 20 million people will end without access to financial advice thanks to the RDR reforms.
    Instead of promoting the services available to advise, money has been spent on creating greater administrative and regulatory pressure on businesses so that they have less time to see clients and have to therefore be much more mercenary on who they deal with. In addition, an organisation has been created to ‘advise’ but not in a regulatory way and to infer that it offers free advice….oh, did I forget to mention that that it’s paid for by the authorised advisers it is trying to undermine….sorry, I meant support!
    Let’s go back to the bad old days of the door-knocking insurance man with his bicycle clips in his pocket (no, I was never one of those)….how many people had policies sold to them by the ‘commission-hungry salesman’? How many people actually had at least a little life-cover, savings and pensions?
    Move forward to now….how many people have no life-cover, no savings and no pensions?
    I commend regulation when it get’s rid of the cowboys but when it stifles the market then a little loosening of the noose is required because otehrwise the smarter cowboys are all that’s left.
    The FCA should be promoting itself as the place that prospective clients should go to find an adviser and it should also be helping to run campaigns promoting the advising community, instead of ‘appearing’ to compete with them.

    Should I get off my soapbox now?


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