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Which? gets FSA approval for mortgage advice service

Which? has been given Financial Services Authority approval to launch a mortgage advice service for Which? members and their family and friends.

Which? will be launching the service later this month and says it follows feedback from its members who said they were unsure of where to find an impartial and trusted source of mortgage advice.

The Which? Mortgage Advisers will be telephone-based and offer whole-of-market mortgage advice, including direct deals.

The advice will be free for Which? members and advisers will be paid a salary but will not get any product commission.

Which? says this will ensure its advisers will not have any incentive to pick one deal above another.

It has employed a small number of mortgage brokers ready for the launch later this month and the service will be advertised in its monthly magazine.

Consumers can become members of Which? by subscribing to its magazine.

Chris Gardner, commercial director at Which?, says: “Buying a house is the largest financial commitment that most people will make and choosing the right mortgage is an important and complicated decision.

“Our members tell us that they find it difficult to know where they can turn to get trustworthy advice from someone who will give them the full picture. We believe that this service will give our members access to the advice they want.”



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  • Jonathan Miller 9th November 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Interesting business model especially based on the fact that they will advise on direct deals for no fees. Seems other elements of the business will have to support this start-up.

    As for the Ipod generation, this is fine if everybody was in exactly the same situation. But individuals requirements/life plans are all different whereby tailored advice is still a necessity in my opinion.

  • James Hall 9th November 2010 at 2:05 pm

    anonymous 12.25pm

    You are right a £1 if £1 wherever it comes from but which £1 are you referring to, the important point is which £1 is the most relevant to that customer. Is it the upfront cost, the monthly cost, the exit cost, the total term cost etc all influenced by the current circumstances, likely future circumstances and possible (unknown) circumstances.

    I like to think I am one of the IPOD generation but I also come from the old fashioned adviser generation where for some people a face to face adviser means that they do get advice tailored to their needs.

    Dont assume all advisers rip people off, dont assume that all people are capable of deciphering vast amounts of information to make one of the most important decisions in their life and dont assume that cheapest monthly cost is always best!

    All of the business models discussed in the comments have a place, along as they are delivered professionally and in a cost effective manner that works for the applicant, the distributor and any intermediary (whoever that may be).

    Everyone seems to get very agitated when a new player enters the market, judge Which? when they are up and running. Surely there is room in the market for any company that provides a service people want!

  • john 9th November 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Best value does not equal cheapest price for the duration of a contract, only on the day it was sourced. Client might be terrified of a 0.25% rise, clearly not the best value then? Other points from various comments:-

    My sourcing software is far more accurate than money supermarket, and is not listed on a basis of who pays them the most for a sponsored link. I tell clients the way their payments are applied to the account, daily etc, direct don’t.

    Bank adviser, and it seems Which as well, sits in his chair and pushes buttons. Professional mortgage advisers don’t.

    Clients of mine are happy to pay fees, for the advice and service given. I have passed FTB’s direct to lenders when I can’t help them, still service them as clients for their protection.

  • anon 9th November 2010 at 12:25 pm

    @Anonymous | 8 Nov 2010 4:00 pm – in the context of money – please tell me when best value does not equate to the cheapest price? that is a non argument that the FS world has created. £1 is £1 whether its from coutts bank or welcome finance – its what it costs that matters.

  • Andy Valvona 9th November 2010 at 11:22 am

    A lot of the respondants here have assumed that the Which Advisers will not offer the same level of service to clients as brokers can.

    A lot of very good brokers have left the industry in recent times, and it is entirely possible that some could be returning with an employed position with the likes of Which.

    I have also noticed an increasing number of ex-brokers working as Mortgage Advisers for the Banks.

    I think, therefore, that it is a case of bemoan at your peril – there is no reason why Which would not do a good job.

    With the confusion over direct deals, and how Which will make that work, I am sure that they will be able to advise on protection and General Insurance, and will have built that into their pricing model, as most “traditional” Mortagge Brokers have.

  • dave lamb 9th November 2010 at 9:34 am

    within 10 years it will all be on the net and the phone.

  • Ancient a mortgage broker in N3 9th November 2010 at 9:14 am

    If lenders are not ditributing via brokers, dual pricing and they dont charge a fee, how can this model generate any income from them or how can they arrange a mortgage?

    They will effectively just give the lenders name and the applicant will have to deal directly with the lender, unless Which get distribution and commission?

    Brokers have ALWAYS done applications online.

    Im not sure how this model will generate much revenue for Which? with no proc fees and no fees, they will have to rely on advertising spend by the lenders on their site/magazine and most people wont buy their magazine as people look online first.
    Good luck Which, you will soon see how tough it is for brokers.

  • Tom Moloney 8th November 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Congratulations to Which? on obtaining their FSA permissions. A welcome addition to the industry at a difficult time!

  • John Baker 8th November 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Anon @ 1.59,

    I charge a reasonable, one-off fee, for a lifetime service. And no, I’m not talking 2/3/4/5k+. I work exclusively from referrals, so my clients obviously don’t feel they are being ripped off. I sell clients the most appropriate product for their needs, not MY needs.

    And yes, I do see them as “clients”, not “customers”. I’ve had a relationship with most of my clients for nearly 10 years now. They trust me to look after their financial affairs, and their friends/family. I provide a quality, ethical service and I’ll put my record up against anyones. If I happen to make money whilst I do this, so what? Are you,and all the other Anon posters who lack the balls to put your name to your comments, working for free? Do you take a minimum wage and rebate the rest? And since when has a £300 proc fee been a huge commission

  • rupert 8th November 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Love the Ipod generation comment – I assume these are the young invincables, 67% of which have no protection and most have absolutley no idea nor do they currently care, what level of poverty their retirement will bring them. Obviously does not realise that to get best value does not mean paying cheapest price. That has never changed. I believe a Henry Ford is a particularly reliable motor vehicle, a ‘safe pair of hands’ sort of a car and certainly good value. I am sure you’ll find it recommomended by Which. LOL

  • anon 8th November 2010 at 3:38 pm

    @mike cullen- no offence intended – just saying it as i see it. look at car insurance, personal loans, cards, et al – all have gone from face to face to online & phone. all FS will go the same way. There really is not enough margin across the piece to supprt the current distribution model. i hate to sound so pompus, but mark my words.

  • Rodney Sulkin 8th November 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Does anyone remember when Which
    recommended Equitable Life as a Best Buy?

  • Mike Cullen 8th November 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Mr Ivory tower, The FSA has said that it doesnt like on line price comparable sites as they dont reflect true cost and often can be misleading. A mortgage broker will have a greater product, criteria and experience in identifying needs and making people aware of riks, whcih protects clint and lender. A call centre or on line service will never replicate this and to be honest your comments are aimed at being offensive to the industry professionals, which I hate to break the news to you, but thats what the FSA call us!

  • Bobby 8th November 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I have for 20 years served my CLIENTS and got them the best possible deal for their circumstances. I can honestly say that hand on heart. My CLIENTS still want to use me but they will want the best deal so therefore on many occassions I cannot get them that over the last 2 years and they have become the banks CUSTOMERS. They will come back to me as soon and if there is ever a level playing field as if there is I will win over a Bank ” advisor ” or should I say order taker anytime and that includes Which. I could have earned 2-3 times I did in the past by placing evryone with the Kensington for a 1% proc fee instead of the Halifax for a 0.3% but I DID NOT and would never had done as I like to be able to sleep at nights so don’t tar us all with the same brush. I would say the brokers left are the same as they would not have hung in there as long as they have if they were after a quick pound.

  • anon 8th November 2010 at 2:39 pm

    The ipod generation do not wished to be served by middle aged men turning up in ford mondeos at 8.00pm in the evening for a cup of tea and a chat. online and on the phone. Which and others are the new order.

  • anon 8th November 2010 at 2:36 pm

    @anon 2.09 – message from Ivory tower.

    Professional advice? “ok mr client – i have checked my trade only sourcing tool and it tells me that the abbey are the cheapest for your circumstances” wow – what a difficult job that is !!!!! and before you shoot me down – ask any consumer what constitutes advice and they will tell you its price price price. They want the cheapest deal for their circs. aint rocket science is it?

  • anon 8th November 2010 at 2:36 pm

    @anon 2.09 – message from Ivory tower.

    Professional advice? “ok mr client – i have checked my trade only sourcing tool and it tells me that the abbey are the cheapest for your circumstances” wow – what a difficult job that is !!!!! and before you shoot me down – ask any consumer what constitutes advice and they will tell you its price price price. They want the cheapest deal for their circs. aint rocket science is it?

  • rupert 8th November 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Procurement fees paying for salaries, they wont all end up with direct to branch deals I fancy. Volume mortgage advice palming off to protection advisors, seems a disjointed way to properly look after your clients – yes that’s clients. Most of us not only do the best for the client on their mortgage but also have a relationship which allows us to look after their home and family, can a low salaried Which advisor give that to his/her ‘customer’ and it will be ‘customer’ – I thought the one hit sales shops where dead myself..

  • john 8th November 2010 at 2:08 pm

    anonymous of 1.44pm, care to elaborate from your ivory tower? i am a qualified ifa, but only give mortgage and protection advice. The people that come to see me are “clients”, I hold various “professional” qualifications, I am a member of various “professional” trade bodies. I beg to differ bit I, and my IFA firm, are professional.

    How have mortgage advisers complicated the market? If actually standing on a pedestal and telling clients “this is my advice” is complicating matters, rather than minimum pay call centre “operatives” telling people they are not giving them advise, then I accept. Mortgage advisers explain different possibilities, lenders, strategies – banks just sell whatever they are targetted for.

    We left regulation of the banks up the themselves, and look where that got us. You want to have no unbiased voice, and mortgages only available from banks? Good luck, I’ll await the results on that.

  • A Non 8th November 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Remind me never to buy a mortgage from the likes of Mr Baker & co. who are obviously going to to see me as a cash cow which they can milk until its dry, selling me untold products that I probably dont need or want to garner themselves huge commissions. Along with a mortgage which makes him the most commission.

  • Graeme Ferguson 8th November 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Just because the adviser doesn’t get commission doesn’t mean the company doesn’t. My guess is that they will be cross selling into protection. Thank god for Which coming to save the day… haha, just another company using the old bandwagon that the industry is corrupt!!!

  • Graeme Ferguson 8th November 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Just because the adviser doesn’t get commission doesn’t mean the company doesn’t. My guess is that they will be cross selling into protection. Thank god for Which coming to save the day… haha, just another company using the old bandwagon that the industry is corrupt!!!

  • anon 8th November 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Both of these comments are typical rhetoric from “mortgage Advisors” who have mistakenly thought that getting cemap made them “professionals” like an accountant or lawyer – then went on to talk about clients, when indeed brokers have customers – not clients, and have over complicated the whole mortgage process in order to scare consumers into thinking brokers are some sort of saviour from the mad and dangerous mortgage market. Which will do a great job i am sure – the old broker model is dead – there are some interesting developments in the market and some new firms doing mortgages in new ways – the old guard should beware

  • Iain Telfer 8th November 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Perhaps this demonstrates that any trained person can give Mortgage advice and it’s not all about getting a rich of the back of Clients!

  • Phoenix Black 8th November 2010 at 1:32 pm

    It’s morons like John Baker who give mortgage consultants a bad name. What is wrong with doing a good job without being blinded by sheer greed. Perhaps John Baker should think about becoming an estate agent!

  • Carl McGovern 8th November 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I guess Which must be charging a fee for this,as if they are advising on direct deals, they will get no remuneration from the lender.

    Will they also give protection advise?

  • John Baker 8th November 2010 at 1:20 pm

    It makes you wonder what standard of advisor would take a job with Which? Whilst we all like to do a good, ethical job for our clients, let’s be honest. A lot of us came into the industry to make a good living, which is still possible, even in this market. Someone who is happy with a (prob) modest salary and no commission isn’t going to be one of lifes great acheivers