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No happy ending for HoC ARs

Appointed representatives of Home of Choice and no doubt its directors have been left shell shocked by the news today that the network is to go into administration.

As the industry mourns the loss of another network ARs are once again left in limbo waiting to hear if anything can be salvaged.

It was just five years ago that Keith Baldwin, Gerry O’Brien and Richard Coulson set out to create one of the largest mortgage networks in the market.

I remember meeting Richard soon after he had left Zurich and he couldn’t wait to launch Home of Choice. Like many, I was greeted by Richard with a friendly smile and came away from the meeting being genuinely excited for them and hoping  their network plans and proposition would be successful.

On one occasion at one of their roadshows Richard spoke of his Newcastle roots and made the comparison of how his family had worked down a coal mine and how fulfilled he felt to have launched Home of Choice – a true Billy Elliot moment.

This sort of honest and likeable approach was often what made it so popular with new recruits, and worried its competitors. On one visit to its head office I was told how the police had investigated after a suspected espionage attempt, which I could well believe.

At the time Home of Choice was seen as rebelling against the other networks that were in the market at the time and standing up for the common broker.

But as Stan Lee once wrote: “With great power there must also come great responsibility”. If the directors of Home of Choice had any inkling that something was wrong ARs should have been informed immediately.

The ARs that made up Home of Choice were also decent and hardworking and through no fault of their own could now face bankruptcy.

It is not clear if the Financial Services Authority had any involvement in the deals that were being done behind closed doors, but surely the network’s lack of capital should have been highlighted in its regular visits.

ARs will find it hard to sympathise with the directors but I suspect whatever deal was being done they were under the impression it would go through without a hitch, and a happy ending for all would follow.

Understandably, comparisons have been drawn between Home of Choice and Network Data and Mortgage Times. But from some of the comments Mortgage Strategy has received it seems that there is also some sympathy for the network’s directors who have made more friends than enemies in the mortgage market.

But many ARs must be feeling at the moment that the road to hell is paved with the best intentions.

They are now left with questions that need answers and concerns for their livelihoods.

In the wake of today’s announcement unfortunately, there are no winners and no happy ending to this story.

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  • Kes 4th May 2010 at 4:15 pm

    why can’t the HoC AR’s simply and immediately place business through a directly authorised firm. The AR checks, Fit & Proper person, financial, FSA registration and competentncy can all be done within hours.

  • Kes 4th May 2010 at 4:14 pm

    why can’t the HoC AR’s simply and immediately place business through a directly authorised firm. The AR checks, Fit & Proper person, financial, FSA registration and competentncy can all be done within hours.

  • Smithy 2nd May 2010 at 11:34 am

    The mortgage network model does not work in this market. HoC single tied their GI arrangements because they needed the cash, this was the begining of the end. Advisors need choice and the only way HoC could survive was to take the cash at the expense of the advisors proposition.
    It’s over!

  • wiseup 30th April 2010 at 11:22 pm

    not dead yet – jim royle and my arse springs to mind……… wise up and get ready to move on…

  • Paul 30th April 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I have been told by their HO that they are not dead yet – a deal is still being discussed and if this happens we will still get paid. They also said that they are not in administration yet and have 5 days to get the bus sold and back up and running – fair play to them, let’s hope they do, and if it’s going to take 6 months to get authorised elsewhere, show me the money!

  • Beardy 30th April 2010 at 11:53 am

    Who’s next?

  • Wendy Jones 30th April 2010 at 11:38 am

    Firstly, my thoughts are with all you guys, I was left high and dry when Prestbury went down the same road in October 2008 and after attending loads of network presentations(including HOC) I felt I wanted major stability and couldnt afford to lose or have to rewrite any more business with the time factors and upsetting my very patient clients.I decided upon Intrinsic and have now been with them for a year and a half and I must admit they have fullfilled all of my expectations, pay on time, have excellent back up & compliance and a dedicated team to look after you, or they leave you alone if you are happy to do your own thing but do keep checking you remotely.No I’m not on a referral fee, I just know how I felt when I was in your shoes and it took me 3 months to decide where to go and picked everyones brains about how they felt with their network, so these comments are just my personal circumstances. But good luck to you all in getting your money & deciding on your future network.

  • me 30th April 2010 at 11:06 am

    When Richard Coolson talked at the HoC roadshows and talked about his son working in the industry, I wonder did his son work in a HoC brokerage or did he know this was coming???

  • me 30th April 2010 at 11:06 am

    When Richard Coolson talked at the HoC roadshows and talked about his son working in the industry, I wonder did his son work in a HoC brokerage or did he know this was coming???

  • Patrick Day 30th April 2010 at 10:57 am

    Homebank Financial Services, a national mortgage and protection brokerage are currently looking for mortgage adviser talent. We would be keen to talk to HoC ARs.

  • Steve 30th April 2010 at 10:02 am

    To:

    JTD | 29 Apr 2010 9:49 pm

    “It’s a sad day for everyone and our thoughts should be with everyone at HOC, including those at the top”.

    Are you having a laugh at my expenses you idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It’s the people at the top who caused all this mess.

  • John Doe 30th April 2010 at 12:07 am

    HOC management and the FSA should hang their heads in shame. I have been approached and pestered of late to join HOC- Amoung my objections “I don’t know how well funded HOC are and without being able to obtain an insight into this its too big a risk.” Of course I got the sales spin that it wasn’t an issue bla..bla.. this was continuing a week ago (Good job I didn’t make a move 3months ago). I have no sympathy for anyone who tries to drag others onto a sinking ship or pull them into a burning building. As for the FSA can’t they send out the life boats or the fire engines?? Haven’t they learnt by now how to spot the leaks and the smoke…of course they have. I thinks its long gone the time when some focus was put on “TREATING BROKERS FAIRLY.”

  • Anonymous 29th April 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Ex HOC AR for months all I’ve heard is TCF TCF how do I Treat my clients fairly, unable to put life

    Policies on risk, mortgages that need to be applied Buildings and Contents to put on risk. I

    Could advise my clients to go direct to ensure TCF and there is no loss of cover. I’m not going to receive my

    Commission from HOC so as the FSA would only expect me to continue with TCF where’s my TCF from the

    FSA and HOC? Lied to over the last 4 days and it will take weeks to be accepted be another network or

    months to go direct. Oh well life goes on 25 years after I started selling insurance,let get rid of Labour and the

    FSA and I may last another 20 years.

  • JTD 29th April 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I am sure the directors done everything in their power to save their company from this unfortunate demise – after all, it’s not something that would look great on a CV. Yes they tried to mask the problem of payments by stating that it was a ‘BACS issue’ but I truly believe they thought they could pull through and find a buyer and did not want to worry staff and AR’s in the process.

    It’s a sad day for everyone and our thoughts should be with everyone at HOC, including those at the top.

  • HOC AR 29th April 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Well what a day onwards and upwards the networks are chasing me round the country nice to be wanted – must have done something right then!!! Fit and proper, debt free, big pipeline – Any suggestions??

  • AR of Home of Choice 29th April 2010 at 6:23 pm

    To Natalie Martin

    Is Richard Coulson paying you or something to give him so much good press? He’s just been part of a directorship which has failed and left 100’s of brokers with no money and no livelihood.

  • Paul McGerrigan 29th April 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Would welcome any opinions as to who is the most financially stable network in the industry?

  • Paul McGerrigan 29th April 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Would welcome any opinions as to who is the most financially stable network in the industry?

  • John O'Hearne 29th April 2010 at 5:23 pm

    The sooner the FSA is done away with by a new government the better, as an organisation it is not fit for purpose.

  • Pip 29th April 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I was approcahed by this net work and how they went on like they was so good i joined them and I had a issue with my refrencing and HOC took me off the road, they showed no support or understanding I was nothing but a number. I am now with a smaller but better network, am so glad I left even if it was down to circumstances

  • Pip 29th April 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I was approcahed by this net work and how they went on like they was so good i joined them and I had a issue with my refrencing and HOC took me off the road, they showed no support or understanding I was nothing but a number. I am now with a smaller but better network, am so glad I left even if it was down to circumstances

  • Paul 29th April 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Anon 3.56 – Agreed. However the FSA are a highly paid organisation who will happily punish a broker for somthing they regard as not being compliant so how can they allow a network with the ultimate responsibility for the livehoods of countless brokers and their families to fail so spectacularly. Why were accounts not checked? Why was the issue not flagged earler, and more importantly why do the FSA not have a contingency for this? If this was the first network to fail then there may be some understanding but it isn’t. When Network Data went there should have been a plan put in to place incase the unfortunate happened again. Here we are once again and no plan, still no lessons learnt. Unfortunately the people who could have prevented, or minimised the fall out from this will once again walk away scot free whilst the innocent victims will be left to go home and tell their families there is no money and possibility of bankruptcy, IVA, loss of home etc. This cannot be fair in any way shape or form

  • Steve 29th April 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Anonymous | 29 Apr 2010 3:43 pm

    “The FSA need to be accountable for allowing this to happen”.
    I think we need to look closer to home. False trust of key individuals, poor management and lack of communication up to the very end.
    The people we trusted are the very people who let us all down.

  • Paul 29th April 2010 at 3:52 pm

    It is real shame when anything like this happens and from what little I know of Home of Choice they had built up a good name as good honest people and wish all their AR’s successes in getting though this unfortunate situation.

    LIFELINE: For individual advisors rather than larger firms the company I work for have in the last 24 hours taken on 5 advisors on an RI basis allowing them to continue with their current business by way of transfer in under a week with the longer term planning converting them to AR’s so please feel free to get in contact and we will try and accommodate you. paulwaters@mapltd.co.uk

  • Paul 29th April 2010 at 3:43 pm

    The FSA need to be accountable for allowing this to happen. As some small compensation for the brokers who have lost vital funds in this, the FSA should appoint them directly authorised immediately, without the need for fees, even if only on an interim basis. Any pipeline business could be re written to show direct payments. That way at least some money can be salvaged for the AR’s, and clients would not be hindered, whilst they choose the way forward. Time for the FSA to stand up and be counted, and at the same time they may just claw back a bit of respect from us brokers.

  • john higgins 29th April 2010 at 3:35 pm

    The only big criticism is the first batch of lies blaming the non payment on the BACS system. We are all in business and all should understand that BACS only fails if you have no funds.

  • Mike Fitzgerald 29th April 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I feel for the advisers at Home of Choice, I knew quite a few of them and its sad to see that they could now be in the same state as advisers in Network Data and Mortgage Times.
    It wil be interesting to see if the FSA had studied the networks capital situation.

    Some brokers may join other networks and some may go direct with the FSA.However some may feel that its time to quit and the country can ill afford to lose even more independent brokers

    I along with many other brokers wish these advisers all the best for the future