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Regulatory dilemma could drive me to litigation

An open letter to Luke March, chief executive, Mortgage Code Compliance Board

Dear Mr March, as the December 31 deadline loomed for the mortgage exam, I felt it was time to update you on my own situation. I sat the MAQ Bridge paper for the ninth time on December 3 2002 (and am awaiting the result of two MAQ exams). On the advice of your Sue Scott, I sat two CeMAP exams and failed both. I did not leave my exams until the last moment, I sat my first MAQ exam two years ago (until recently you could only sit these exams quarterly). I have taken three mock exams under strict examination conditions; I have done, in all, 14 exams, over 500 hours of study and attended numerous workshops – all at enormous personal expense.

This is one exam I was never going to pass by December 31. I object to people in the media who claim that the Bridge paper is a rudimentary exam. It is as difficult as obtaining a university degree as far as I am concerned. Do not be misled into believing that a person is more competent after passing this exam – that is rubbish. For example, my invigilator for the MAQ exam said I was disadvantaged by my age (58) as youngsters in the exam room are leaving after one hour of a three-hour exam, probably due to their college education. Do you believe these people can advise on mortgages at 20 years of age? I have been giving mortgage advice for 20 years and work exclusively from referrals. It is about time you regulators realised that people deal with people and (within reason) are prepared to pay for good advice, be it in my case mortgages, investment, pensions and protection, since I am an IFA, not a mortgage broker.

But my complaint here is about the CeMAP exam which can, theoretically be sat every four or five days. I first sat this exam on October 25. When I reapplied to take it the following week, I was told the earliest available date was November 20 and the same thing happened for the third date, December 13. This is not acceptable as, if I could have taken the exam every five days, I would have had about ten attempts at it. I appreciate I can work outside of the MCCB since it is a voluntary code, but I think this may disadvantage my clients in certain cases.

Could you give me any suggestions as to how I could operate without thirdparty intervention? All my clients know of my dilemma, as do my new referrals, and all are prepared to support me by signing a petition which, if necessary, will go to litigation.

Mr March, I have no intention of stopping advising my clients this month and any action on your part to prevent me must mean that the matter will have to go to the High Court and a judge will have to decide on the legality of such action. I will stand by a judge&#39s decision and would expect you to do the same. I cannot be expected to tolerate your or anyone&#39s else&#39s attempt to destroy an exemplary career.

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