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Aiming to be the best that an IFA can get

Best advice mortgage centre

Best Advice Mortgage Centre is a specialist packaging company based in Newcastle. Via its network of accredited intermediaries, the company offers members of the public access to a wide range of leading non-conforming and sub-prime mortgages. Many of these products are exclusive deals developed in association with some of the biggest and most respected lending names in the non-conforming and sub-prime markets. BAMC has three offices in the city and employs a 20-strong sales and processing team. The company is headed by 37-year-old Richard Hall, who has a financial services pedigree spanning 18 years.

Q: How is Best Advice Mortgage Centre (BAMC) structured?

A: We have three offices located in Newcastle. These sites process and underwrite all of the mortgage applications that are received from our national network of mortgage introducers. Spearheading our sales operation is a UK-wide team of business development managers. This team is responsible for developing new business – and maintaining excellent working relations with intermediaries who are already on our books.

Q: What are the core sectors for which you cater?

A: We are able to offer sub-prime or non-conforming clients access to a wide range of mortgage products. We believe our products are as competitive as you can get in these two distinct markets – and our goal is to always deliver a deal that best suits our clients&#39 needs and circumstances in the longer term. This often means we provide mortgages to people who require a &#39credit repair&#39 service for up to three years. Sometimes this means providing a financial solution for a client that will cater for their needs for longer than three years.

Q: How do you differ from other specialist packagers?

A: The biggest difference with our company is that our senior management team and all BAMC business development managers have been IFAs and hold professional qualifications. We work in the mortgage industry because this is a market we want to be involved in – not because we can&#39t work in other sectors. We believe passionately in delivering the highest standards of professionalism and customer service to our clients, regardless of whether they are intermediaries or members of the public. Our IFA credentials help us to deliver these key commitments and single us out as one of the few packagers that is able to see the bigger picture.

Q: Do you think prime lenders have had an impact on the specialist sector?

A: The introduction of prime lenders into the sub-prime and non-conforming markets has been one of the best things to happen to both sectors in a long while. Without the introduction of names like Britannia Building Society (who own Platform Home Loans and Verso), Birmingham Midshires Solutions (owned by The Halifax) and Amber Home Loans (the sub-prime subsidiary of the Skipton Building Society), it would have been difficult for the sub-prime and non-conforming sectors to have made such giant strides in such a short space of time. Better products and greater professionalism are key areas in which prime players have brought their influence to bear.

Q: What incentives do you offer to intermediaries?

A: Mortgage introducers who deal with BAMC benefit from a wide range of incentives. In many instances we are able to pay our intermediaries a 2% procuration fee – in contrast to many packagers who pay their brokers significantly less. Our view is that we are a conduit for our lender partners and therefore our intermediaries should derive the maximum financial benefit from their association with us. This approach seems to be working.

We also offer a compliance service to intermediaries that is free of charge and ensures all BAMC cases are written prudently and well within the rules set by the Mortgage Code Compliance Board. Also, all our intermediaries can monitor their cases online – from inception to completion – via our case-tracking service.

Q: How important is technology to your business?

A: Technology is critical to our business. Without it we would not be able to deliver a number of our key commitments to our lender partners and intermediaries. We have invested heavily in recent months in technology. This will enable us to write greater volumes of business in the months ahead while not compromising the quality of the service we offer. Speed of service and accuracy are key to the success of any packager and our new system ensures that we are capable of delivering to the very highest of standards in both these respects.

Q: Should packagers be authorised by the FSA?

A: Having worked with regulation for many years as IFAs, we believe that it would be a serious mistake for the FSA not to regulate mortgage packagers. A packager has nothing to fear from regulation if the business is well structured and professional in its approach. It does have something to worry about if it falls short in one or both of these key areas.

Confidence in the mortgage industry is still low. The right regulatory framework – preferably policed by the FSA – will ensure that confidence quickly returns to this vibrant market.

Q: How do you think the packaging industry will change under the new regulatory regime?

A: We believe the biggest change will be in the number of packagers that will be around once regulation has started to bite – with fewer than 100 having the resources to survive the introduction of statutory laws. Why do we have this view? Because in recent years many companies have chosen to become packagers simply because they believe they will earn more money operating in this niche, rather than by continuing to trade as an intermediary. Yet despite changing their business model, many of these companies have not developed the infrastructures that are needed to deliver a professional mortgage packaging service. It is these companies that will be the biggest casualties of the regulatory era.

Q: Where do you see the mortgage industry in two years&#39 time?

A: The next two years are going to be interesting times for all of us. One thing is certain – there will be a lot more product development in the sub-prime and non-conforming sectors. GMAC, Mortgages PLC and Platform Home Loans are already leading the way. But there is still a long way to go before these two markets realise their true potential and therefore better and more competitive products will be essential.

Q: Do you favour an all-encompassing trade association to represent the intermediary market?

A: Yes. Indeed, it is incredible that the mortgage industry has come this far without a trade association to represent the interests of intermediaries – regardless of whether they are packagers or brokers. Going forward, it is important that the views of packagers and brokers are put before the likes of the FSA and carry some weight. At this moment in time it just doesn&#39t happen. Let&#39s hope that this can change sooner rather than later.

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