Let’s get together for the greater good

Easter is a good time to reflect. The year is well underway and all those new year resolutions have been long forgotten, unless you have a will of pure steel.

And at Easter, I am reminded of the town of Oberammergau in Bavaria. Every 10 years its inhabitants come together to perform a passion play. The play was first performed in 1634 as a result of a vow made by the inhabitants to persuade God to spare them the effects of the bu-bonic plague sweeping the region.

My point is not that the mortgage industry needs divine intervention but rather that, having visited the town, I know how important it is for the inhabitants to set aside their differences, egos and personal goals to produce the play for the greater good.

Last week Abbey played host to a small conference at which a number of industry notables were invited to speak about their visions for the rest of 2008, now the year is in full swing.

Among those who gave presentations was Chris Cummings, director-general of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, who echoed the sentiment about working together as his talk drew to a close. He explained how as an industry we have been able to shape policy in many areas but only when we stand together rather than in opposition to each other. Cummings’ comments were made with reference to the industry debate on the Financial Services Authority’s Treating Customers Fairly initiative.

Sentiment among the brokers I have spoken to suggests they think TCF is red tape for its own sake. They argue the initiative has become more of a hindrance than a help and seems to have been dreamt up by individuals with little understanding of the industry.

But with my glass half full, I can see some good in TCF. It’s an opportunity for brokers and lenders to work together, sharing information that can improve business capabilities as well as relationships.

A survey by Tcfinfo.co.uk shows that 60% of brokers want more information from lenders to support their TCF activities. The survey highlights the fact that brokers think lenders are not pulling their weight when it comes to working together.

Lenders understand the frustration this must cause and we know we must do more in this regard. Like the people of Oberammergau, industry players must come together for the greater good.

I would like Abbey to play a prominent role in this, working with trade and government bodies, brokers and other lenders to ensure the industry takes the correct steps as it moves forward.