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Should mortgage express have named and shamed the bdm advising brokers how to mis-sell self-cert?

The industry must be seen to be clean but inappropriate naming and shaming risks blunting the enthusiasm of salespeople, say our experts

I assume that when Mortgage Express was made aware of the alleged allegations regarding the business development manager, it would have carried out a full investigation as part of its internal disciplinary process.

Usually, this would involve the employee being able to give their version of events and result in a verbal or written final warning.

Clearly, Mortgage Express felt the circumstances here were serious enough to fit into the gross misconduct category and therefore resulted in instant dismissal.

Mortgage Express was forced to go public on a delicate internal misconduct issue. However, it is clear that the Financial Services Authority is taking a keen interest in the specialist lending area of self-cert and Mortgage Express was absolutely right to take the action it did if a member of staff was mis-selling its products.

I’m sure my friends at Mortgage Express will forgive me for suggesting, it also serves as a show of cleanliness to the Financial Services Authority. Indeed any lender or intermediary for that matter who isn’t examining their processes, procedures and audit for self-cert cases, most definitely should be. It won’t be long before the regulator delves deeper into this niche lending area as they are already doing with the sub-prime sector of the market.

Despite Mortgage Express being forced to go public maybe this has acted as a wake-up call for the industry as business development managers and advisers up and down the country may have muttered, “Here but for the grace of God go I.”

One problem though and a potential risk to the industry in general is that if the market plays the be safe rather than sorry card, we could potentially lose the sales enthusiasm which is vital to our industry as a whole. It’s clear Mortgage Express addressed this situation quickly, taking responsibility then action.

Whether individuals should be named and shamed is a moot point. It might be that in certain situations this would educate and benefit others, but in some cases it would produce no other effect than to cause upset and unrest.

There are also certain legal and human resources practicalities that must be considered.

Therefore naming and shaming has to be treated carefully and should be decided upon on a case by case basis. In the case under discussion here I can’t see any real benefit in naming the individual.

Lenders have a responsibility to brokers to ensure they are supported and provided with information. Much of this support and information provision is now available to brokers via online technologies but the off-line support, still crucial for many brokers, is delivered in the form of a business development manager.

Business development managers are the external face of lenders and therefore everything they do reflects back on the business they represent. Their having a good reputation is therefore vital for lenders to have fruitful personal face to face relationships.

Lenders and brokers understand the importance of operating according to the rules and we must all remember that when mis-selling or other invalid practices take place it tars the industry as a whole.

The whole point of us becoming a regulated industry was to ensure the consumer got a fair deal. We cannot just pay lip service to this ideal but must all take responsibility for our actions. Every one of us has a part to play in operating a fair and open industry.

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