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News analysis: Brokers up in arms at Which? Mortgage Adviser advert

Campaign implies that advisers put themselves before clients

Mortgage brokers have been left reeling by an advert from a well-known industry firm claiming that rival advisers prioritise profit over securing the right deal for the customer.

The Which? Mortgage Advisers advert, spotted on a train, states: “Get the mortgage that’s best for your pocket, not the broker’s”, while the small print reads: “At Which? our brokers don’t earn a personal commission. So the mortgage deal they recommend and arrange is the one that’s best for you, not for them.”

Fellow brokers have been up in arms at the inference in the ad that they would pursue the product with the highest commission, rather than that which is most suited to their client.

John Charcol director of products and mortgage technical Walter Avrili calls it a “cheap shot”. He adds: “We are all regulated by the FCA and spend a large proportion of our turnover, rightly, on compliance departments and sourcing systems to ensure clients get the right mortgage.”

Continuum financial adviser Nathan Stacey and Lentune Mortgage Consultancy managing director Stuart Gregory agree that the comments are based on pure conjecture and call out the firm for failing to mention their own fees and commission.

Stacey says he is “surprised to see such an unfounded and misinformed attack on fellow independent advisers. What evidence do they have that brokers advise on deals that suit us best? We’ll only ever advise the right deal for the client; the commission is irrelevant. Did Which? forget to mention their £499 ‘advice’ fee in that ad, too?”

Gregory says: “Clarity is important for any promotional advert. Which?’s advert doesn’t seem to explain that, although it claims advisers aren’t incentivised, the company receives the same commission that they allude to. It also seems to allege commission bias by other advisers, which is incorrect and very derogatory.”

The ad also caused a stir on social media, with brokers taking to Twitter to express displeasure. Mortgage Advice Bureau mortgage and protection adviser Daniel Clayton tweeted: “Even for the one or two lenders that do pay slightly higher commission, what broker in their right mind would risk their entire business, livelihood and reputation for a few quid more? This just doesn’t happen and that advert is a disgrace.”

Mortgage Advice Network partner Gary Wright wrote: “This is outrageous, grossly unfair, inaccurate, misleading and frankly childish. How on earth did @WhichUK think this was okay to print?”

In response to Mortgage Strategy’s requests for comment, a spokesperson for Which? Mortgage Advisers said: “Our mortgage advisers’ pay is never linked to the mortgage that they recommend. This is not the case for some others in the market and this advert was intended to make this point of difference clear.”

We did not receive a response to requests for the locations of the advert or how long it will remain in the public domain in its current form.

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  • Simon Whittaker 5th June 2018 at 4:54 pm

    It is truly galling for Which to adopt this holier than thou stance when they have a “business model” that relies on being heavily subsidised by the Consumer Association. Which? Financial Services has made losses of £3.5 million in each of the last two years on turnover of £5 – 6 million – no commercial entity could afford to subsidise the cost of providing a mortgage broking service in the manner that Which has chosen to do. Does Which intend to subsidise their broking operation to an extent that is sufficient to wipe out any competition and thereby establish a monopoly?

  • Lisa Peach-Hill 5th June 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Pretty sad that Which? feel the need to big up their own service to clients by smearing the reputation of every broker in the industry. Completely misleading and unprofessional and could put people off taking professional advice completely. Imagine if we all went around smearing the reputations of our competitors? Totally undignified. Whoever signed this advert off should hang their head in shame.

  • Roland Scott 5th June 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Cancelled my subscription two months ago after 15 years a member of Which due to ads they ran about Brokers with a picture of a shark which they clearly tried to link together. They have moved from being an organisation of information to a sales organisation!!

  • Mike Brown 5th June 2018 at 1:42 pm

    This is quite shocking, especially when trying to find Which? fees, it is not easy and they also treat their subscribers differently, how’s that treating customers fairly? As professional advisers, if we do earn our money from proc fees and broker fees, then if the deal doesn’t go through, what do we earn? Nothing! For Which? advisers, if the deal doesn’t go through, what do they earn, their normal salary! So, as professional advisers, and I speak for how we operate, we push hard to get the best deal for clients, and if it falls through for whatever reason, we keep going until we get the result! Not quite sure that happens if it’s Friday at 5pm and it’s home time and you’re on a salary. Just my view!

  • Simon Kelly 5th June 2018 at 1:33 pm

    I was asked to speak to a client that Which Mortgage Advisers had been dealing with. They had told him it was 100% impossible for him to buy the property he wanted. They never did a full fact find on the client to find he had 4 mortgage free Buy to Lets that could be refinanced to provide a bigger deposit to allow him to buy the property he wanted without having to tie in the sale of his property. I charged the client an application fee of £495 per mortgage and a 0.50% fee off all the mortgages and the client was more than happy to pay the fees based on my advise. Goes to show that they clearly did not have the experienced staff to ask the basic of questions.

  • Peter Turner 5th June 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I would be interested to see what the Advertising Standards Authority make of it.