Jul 21 – What is the point of AMI?

Many of you reading this will be members of AMI, the trade body for intermediaries.  But some of you may not be.  Whilst we have a good representation of smaller DA firms within our membership, we do see that there are still a number who have yet to discover AMI.  In reality, it is these firms that need AMI most.  Need us to argue for what you do for customers with Treasury, FCA, FOS and ensure that lenders see the benefit of your advice.  We also provide help, guidance and simple explanations of what the FCA wants you to be doing.  The big firms predominantly pay for our advice and support, but small firms somehow do not appear to see the benefit – perverse, as whilst they still benefit from the lobbying work we do, they probably need us most and would derive the most benefit from our factsheets, guidance and newsletters.

The FCA has never been busier taking on new subjects and consulting on changes that will deeply impact all firms.  These are issues quite removed from what most advisers see as within their job.  There are new consultations on Diversity and Inclusivity; a stronger Consumer Duty; the need to better deal with and evidence Vulnerability; an expansion of the concept of Fair Value in products and major changes to the pricing of General Insurance products that will have much wider implications.  This is in addition to the work firms are still doing to embed the Senior Managers Regime, get their Directory entries right and train in fully the conduct rules.

All of these areas do not really impact on the daily routine of getting the customer the best mortgage.  But at a firm level it will be important that firm owners grasp these initiatives and work out how they are going to demonstrate how their firm embraces, monitors and measures these issues.  It is AMI’s role to run workshops and work with firms to ensure we keep the mortgage intermediary world in a safe and productive place.

We do this more complex policy type work in addition to the day job of helping firms with renewing their professional indemnity insurance, continuing to debate with the FCA how the “cheapest rule” does not work well in practice and supporting firms on how to deal with legal cases resulting from historic interest only advice.

In the last year we have had discussions with Treasury on such wide-ranging subjects as long term fixed rates, stamp duty, Help to Buy, mortgage prisoners, the impact of Covid financial support on mortgage eligibility particularly for the self-employed and the lifetime mortgage and RIO markets.

This is done to help ensure that the mortgage advisory profession is seen as core and relevant in policy creation and that your part in the market is understood.  Delivering our unique insights on what customers really need and want, not what some other firms might think.

AMI works every day to promote and protect the importance of the advice every adviser gives.  Helps firms to stay in a safer place.  Being inside our tent and supporting the cause should make sense. But many see it as unnecessary.  The next few years will see FCA intervention at an unprecedented level – driving product manufacturers to exercise more control over distribution.  AMI membership might be the best insurance policy you ever have.

Robert Sinclair
AMI Chief Executive
July 2021