Networks branded immoral

Richard Coulson, chief executive of Home of Choice, has attacked what he calls the immoral behaviour of some networks.

Speaking on the first anniversary of Home of Choice, Coulson says app-ointed representatives are sometimes held back from joining it promptly because of contractual clauses placed on them by other networks which he says are behaving in an “immoral” way.

He adds: “We have appointed 584 ARs but have 320 on the transfer list. Networks im-posing contractual obligations on their members and threatening to freeze commission means some ARs can’t join us straight away.”

Coulson says HoC believes in shorter tie-in periods, as does Pink Home Loans, which has a tie-in period of three months.

Tony Jones, managing director of Pink, says: “We only ask for three months’ notice. I compare it with gym membership. Some gyms have ridiculous tie-ins of 12 months which is a long time in which anything can happen. Three months is about right. It allows for provisions and any costs that might occur once an AR decides to leave.”

HoC also revealed that it is in talks with six networks about possible acquisitions, with a deal expected by the end of the year.

Regarding the four networks that have been told to stop appointing ARs by the Financial Services Authority, Coulson says HoC is not one of them.

He says: “We are not one of them and we don’t know who they are. I feel sorry for them and hope they get their houses in order because the mortgage industry needs networks.”

Coulson also predicts that by the end of the year both networks and packagers would be in single figures.

HoC is close to reaching its three-year recruitment target of 1,000 ARs within its first 12 months, and has now challenged itself to recruit 2,000 ARs by the end of 2008.