Autumn and early winter means one thing in ‘Mortgage-Land'; it's the time of the trade shows. You can't move for them. And if you include in that AMI's own regional conferences - which come to an end this week in Glasgow - then it's a very busy time not just for you but also your trade body.
If it’s November, then it must be Mortgage Business Expo at Earl’s Court. After two days of (if you read one trade magazine) “The Greatest Show on Earth” I’m ready for a lie down in a darkened room.
AMI’s relationship with Expo stretches way back and once again we were responsible - along with the CML - for the seminars provided to delegates plus, of course, we had our own stand and - a first for this year - our very own lounge which unfortunately didn’t included a television and sofa but was an area for our members to take a break or hold a meeting (or both).
This year was a new experience for me. At previous Expos I have been on the other side, a journalist sat in the audience looking for the ‘story’ of the two days. At this Expo I shared chairing duties with my colleague Robert Sinclair while AMI also held a business leaders’ lunch on the first day which the FSA’s Managing Director of Retail Markets, Clive Briault addressed.
Briault’s was certainly made to work on the Wednesday. His seminar attracted great interest from Expo delegates where I can report that it was standing room only. The big news to come out of the presentation was that of the FSA’s ‘quality of mortgage advice’ work. The regulator has already conducted a similar piece of work amongst investment advisers earlier in the year and is now digesting the findings of its work amongst mortgage intermediaries.
While stressing that FSA only has initial findings at present, Briault outlined four key areas the FSA is concerned about: process relating to affordability, mortgages into retirement, interest-only mortgages, and training and competence.
Interest-only was an issue that cropped up a number of times over the course of the two days. There seems to be a widespread feeling that FSA are out to ‘get’ those advisers who recommend interest-only products to their clients and a belief that, perhaps because of pressure applied by the FSA’s Consumer Panel, the regulator is ‘anti-interest-only’.
Briault said that FSA figures from 2005 reveal that 24% of all new mortgages were on an interest-only basis and, from FSA’s thematic work, in over three-quarters of those cases it was not clear whether a repayment vehicle was in place.
AMI’s advice to brokers is to ensure that clients are aware of the responsibilities that come with taking an interest-only mortgage, making them aware that they will need to have some way of paying that mortgage, be that through a repayment vehicle or possibly moving to a capital and interest repayment mortgage in the future. Advisers should also ensure that this part of the advice process is clearly documented.
I am reliably informed that the number of delegates attending Expo this year was a record and judging by the numbers streaming into the main hall and seminar theatres, I would have to believe them. One thing I have learnt to master in chairing the sessions is the art of the gratuitous plug. If someone mentions TCF, I mention AMI’s ‘Developing TCF’ factsheet, someone mentions HIPs, I mention AMI’s ‘HIPs Update’ factsheet, someone mentions retention business, I mention...you get the picture.
This all goes to show that AMI is providing its members with information on the issues that matter. That’s another plug – I can’t get out of the habit. And we will continue to do so.
If you were at Expo, I hope you enjoyed the experience and took something out of the day and AMI’s seminars in particular. We’ll be back next year. I hope you will too.
Rob Griffiths is associate director of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the organisation he represents.IFAonline
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