CML broker sales data is called into question

Intermediated sales figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders have been branded misleading after it was revealed that the trade body classes some in-branch sales as broker deals.

Figures from the CML released earlier this year showed brokers claimed a 60% share of the mortgage market in Q1 2011.

But last week figures from the Financial Services Authority re­vealed that brokers’ market share was just 47% in Q1 2011.

The CML says the 13% discrepancy stems from the fact that  it classifies in-branch direct sales as intermediated if the selling firm and providing firm are different FSA regulated entities, whereas the FSA does not.

The selling and providing firm could differ in cases where the latter is part of a group of brands, such as Lloyds Banking Group.

For example, Cheltenham & Gloucester is classed as a separate legal entity from Lloyds group and is thus the selling firm.

But Halifax does not have a separate legal identity so would be the selling and providing firm.

But Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, says: “It is misleading for the CML to include these as intermediary sales as in-branch advisers do not offer advice across all of a group¹s brands. The FSA’s definition of an intermediated sale is far better in my view.”

The numerous mergers that have taken place in the mortgage market over the years mean that a firm may have been sold to a larger brand but still maintained its own legal entity.

A spokeswoman for the CML says: “Given that there have been numerous mergers and acquisitions in the past few years, keeping track of all the changes would rapidly become untenable so we do not do it.”