AMI rejects claims of bias over Gummer’s new post

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has rebuffed suggestions that the appointment of its chairman to the board of an equity release firm could be a conflict of interest.

John Gummer MP last week took up the position of non-executive director of home reversion provider Sovereign Reversions.

Gummer, who is also chairman of the Association of IFAs, already has a number of other directorships but this is believed to be his first directly related to the financial services industry.

This has led some in the industry to claim that his appointment could be seen as a sign of him abusing his position at AMI.

One source says: “Some people have the view that AMI should have a chairman who sits outside of the industry.

“If there’s an issue on home reversion or equity release, he will now have a vested interest.”

A straw poll on Mortgage Strategy’s website asks whether Gummer has abused his impartiality. At the time of writing, 81% had voted yes with 19% voting no.

The trade body had faced similar complaints about its last chairman Charles Gooding, who was accused of profiting from his position when setting up the network, first4brokers.

Alan Cleary, sales manager at BM Solutions, says: “Gummer is leading a trade body that represents the mortgage broker and it is critical that he remains impartial. Even if it is innocent it gives people ammunition to fire at AMI.”

AMI has strongly denied this is an issue and says if there were a conflict of interest Gummer would reconsider his position.

Chris Cummings, director of AMI, says: “Sovereign Reversions is a property investment company. It’s not regulated by the Financial Services Authority and so is not a company in our market. It’s not an intermediary firm – there is no conflict of interest that we can see.

“In Gummer’s role as non-executive director, he will have nothing to do with any mortgage matters and, while he does not anticipate any conflict of interest arising he would, of course, stand aside if any should arise.”