View more on these topics

On the beat

It might well look like something out of a horror film. Just as intermediaries were beginning to feel that memories were fading following the October 31 introduction of MCOB, a new horror dawns. Creeping and stalking, ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey in early 2005, is ICOB.

More regulation, more form-filling, more new processes and procedures to take on board. When and where is all this going to end? It is no understatement that our industry has gone through a steep learning curve in a short space of time. Change is an every day part of business life. If anything, the pace of change is accelerating. New regulations, systems and products to name but a few.

In a year or two we will all look back with some amusement on what 2004/05 delivered but right now I don’t hear the sound of laughter. To make matters worse we seem to be heading towards the season of the ‘up, down and sideways’ approach to calling the direction of property prices and interest rates. It almost seems like a national pastime and that is just the professionals. Of course, as always, there are the gloom and doom-mongers versus the happily deluded. Each week sees the publication of a variety of reports, one saying one thing, another predicting something entirely different. My advice is to ignore them. all.
I recall a quotation by Winston Churchill, who said: “For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Wise words indeed.

There is much to be proud of and to focus on, such as continuing to advise customers and help them find the mortgages that they need. Just remember that the total lent in 1998 was nearly £90bn, in 2003 it was just over £270bn and in 2004 it will not be too far away from the 2003 number.

In addition, it might be worth recalling that mortgage intermediaries will have been responsible for up to 60% of that total. I think we can all feel that represents a job well done taking into consideration everything that has been thrown in our path.

But it is no time for complacency as the rate of change will as always accelerate. There is no time to stand still – to use a cliché – evolve or die. One thing that does not change is that the business environment is as competitive as ever. Customers will be as demanding and information hungry.

Right now ICOB may seem a small bump in the road but the industry will, as always, rise to the challenge of whatever 2005 throws at us. One thing is for sure, we will all raise a glass in the festive season to what has been achieved and what we have to look forward to.


Barker Review out of reach

The aims set out in the Barker Review for affordable houses will not be met, industry experts have claimed.Speaking at the Council of Mortgage Lenders conference today, Jim Coulter, chief executive of the National Housing Federation says that Barkers numbers are not going to be fulfilled.Kate Barker estimated earlier in the year that 23,000 extra […]

Charcol to retain mortgage broker focus

Charcol will remain a specialist mortgage broker rather than expanding into other areas of financial advice, but says it will refer business to an investment adviser.It also says it has no plans to become a national brand and will instead keep its focus on the South-East.The plans are part of a major restructure of the […]

UCB Home Loans publishes top tips for landlords

A set of top tips for budding landlords is launched today by Nationwides specialist subsidiary, UCB Home Loans. The tips can be accessed on the lenders buy-to-let microsite on the link below, together with a guide on buying-to-let and a series of six-monthly reports that the company produces on the buy-to-let sector.The twelve tips are […]


Neptune video: Abenomics: the impetus for Japan’s fast-track recovery?

The remarkable performance of the TOPIX over the past year has caused many sceptical equity investors to look again at the Japanese market. These returns have come despite very significant problems facing the Japanese economy. Chris Taylor, manager of the Neptune Japan Opportunities Fund, discusses these problems and whether Abenomics will be able to overcome them, enabling the market to continue to rise.

In the video, Taylor addresses the following:

• The size and speed of Japan’s unprecedented monetary policy
• Abenomics and the implications should it fail
• Corporate Japan and beneficiaries of government policy


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up