Mortgage Solutions editor Victoria Hartley talks to Sheila Nicoll, FSA director of conduct policy, at the Building Societies Association conference.
Victoria Hartley: In the first panel session of the day, Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society said there is a "disconnect between the two arms of government- the housing minister and the regulator. What's your view?
Sheila Nicoll: I don't think there is a disconnect. We all want the same thing - a sustainable housing market.
VH: But the disconnect remains between the age of aspiration for first-time buyers and the problems many borrowers are having securing a mortgage?
SN: That's the way the market is at the moment. It's a tough one. Nothing the FSA has done yet is affecting that. We are very conscious of the need not to make things worse for those who want to remortgage or get on the housing ladder. The impact assessment we plan to publish over the summer will be the mechanism we can use to help us look forward, not back.
The difference now is that when we started the Mortgage Market Review we were pushing forward very fast because we expected the mortgage market to recover rapidly. That hasn't happened so we've been taking more time to get it right. There hasn't been any pressure to move any faster either. Although there are those, like the housing charity Shelter who feel we haven't moved fast enough.
VH: The EC Directive was published recently with a variety of uncomfortable proposals including the end of the secured loans market and commission payments. How confident are you can get the right result for the UK?
SN: I can't give any assurance about what the mortgage market will look like with 27 member states' input to consider. But what I can say is that we are very, very engaged in this process. The fact we have a wealth of information about the UK market puts us in a good place.
VH: Behind the scenes, what feedback have lenders given you about the fact independent mortgage advisers and branch advisers will have to meet the same advice standards?
SN: Lenders have largely been very supportive. It's not the same debate with RDR as it is with MMR. Mortgage advisers are not being expected to lift their qualifications like IFAs. We didn't want to read that across. The complexities in the MMR are different.
VH: Do you expect to stay in your role and see the MMR process through?
SN: I've been in my role 18 months and at the FSA for three and a half years. I've been confirmed as director of policy at the FCA too, so it's fair to say I'll be here for the meantime.
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