From Simon MouncherWe are now a year into regulation and the market seems to have settled well. Every week we read reports on record levels of business so the doom that was expected, along with the end of packaging, hasn’t happened. Or has it? For the past 12 months lenders have talked about cutting the number of packagers they allow but this hasn’t happened, so is it a case of all talk no action? Not quite. Remember lenders are investing heavily in online binding decisions. This is clearly a way to make the job of a packager easier and allow them to process more work. Pull the other one. Are we really expected to believe that with the millions invested won’t be used as a tool to attract business direct from the broker market? Michael Bolton must be sat in his garden reading his copy of Cosmopoliton with a wry smile on his face wondering when lenders are going to come out of the closet and reveal their intentions. So not only has the packager had to deal with regulation and the increased costs that come with it, it now has to compete not only in its own market, but now against the lenders too. As the Financial Services Authority is encouraging full disclosure and championing the Treating Customers Fairly initiative surely it is time for lenders to stand up and do the same. Or are they waiting until all their developments of technology are in place and all brokers have been visited before they start the cull?That seems a fair way to repay the loyalty of packagers who have made them what they are today. It is only with the emergence of packager collectives such as RAMP and PMPA to name but two, that there has been strength in numbers. Pity the poor little packager who has provided an excellent service to his brokers for years. His days are very much numbered. I would encourage these packagers to be active and approach their lender panels and ask for clarity. If this is not forthcoming I would suggest they talk to one of the larger packagers about satellite packaging. Maybe it’s time Mortgage Strategy approached all the main lenders in the sub-prime and specialist lending markets and asked them to publish their strategy and opinions on the market. This would make interesting reading.
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