Industry learns to live with regulation

Today is the first anniversary of the mortgage industry’s regulation by the Financial Services Authority.

Despite the doom mongering, the industry is broadly positive about a year that’s had more than its fair share of ups and downs.

Rather than the bang everyone predicted, it was more a gentle thud as frustrations mounted in the first month. Many systems did not work as expected, with some networks failing to even register their appointed representatives in time.

But one year on, many of the glitches that plagued brokers are but a distant memory.

Mortgage Strategy’s cover feature this week goes into the bare details of the regulatory year. As we point out, some of the changes predicted, such as that most brokers would become appointed representatives, did not come to pass. Similarly, predictions of an industry exodus proved wide of the mark.

Though some firms opted to become introducer-only or leave the industry, around 3,000 mortgage ARs remain. But the directly authorised community is by far the larger segment of the AR/DA divide.

It might have taken a while but brokers came round to the FSA’s way of thinking.

A poll by the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries to gauge brokers’ views six months in found that well over 50% were comfortable with regulation, with 45% describing themselves as positive and a further 21% as very positive.

But some are still sceptical regarding the impact on consumers. Steve Smith, sales director at Square Mile Mortgage Finance, says: “Brokers have coped well but I would be interested to know if it has helped consumers understand the mortgage industry.”

While most lenders and brokers undoubtedly ran into problems, most seem pleased about how things have gone and are confident about the future.

Brian Marsh, head of wholesale compliance at Mortgage Express, says: “A great deal of time and effort went into getting ready for M-Day. In the 12 months since, we have grown accustomed to working in the regulated environment.”

Regulation is now a part of daily life, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t hurdles for the mortgage community to jump.