Press Releases (Current)

Member Area

In a changing market such as financial services, AMI is the constant voice providing commentary on the issues that matter to members. We provide commentary and analysis through our press releases.

The AMI team is available to give comment on the issues hitting the headlines. We also produce press releases on our research, responses and regulatory issues across the board.  All AMI’s current press output is available here.

To view the articles please click on the + icon next to the titles. For the press release archive please click here.

04/11/2020 - AMI launches 'The New Protection Challenge' report

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) today launches a new report based on extensive consumer and adviser research.

‘The New Protection Challenge’ report, which asked 5,000 consumers and 500 mortgage brokers a range of detailed questions about the protection market in September this year was produced in partnership with Legal & General and Royal London. The 32 page report, which we believe is one of the most comprehensive studies of the mortgage protection market ever carried out, includes the following key findings:

  • 97% of advisers say protection was mentioned in the mortgage process – but only 36% of customers remember it being mentioned, suggesting a perception gap between consumers and the industry
  • Buying a house or moving home are 2 of the 3 key drivers to buying protection, while home insurance is considered the most important insurance policy
  • Less than a third of UK adults can correctly identify what income insurance is
  • Over half of consumers don’t believe protection claim statistics
  • The majority of consumers would prefer protection to be arranged before or during the mortgage process (not after)
  • 1 in 7 mortgage brokers refer protection to a specialist
  • Covid-19 has not impacted the likelihood of getting protection for the majority of consumers

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said: “The challenge our industry faces is how do we get the consumer onside and trusting this market during their journey through mortgage advice to protection advice. The research shows a great opportunity for advisers to better engage with customers. Our collective task is to encourage advisers to rise to the New Protection Challenge.

“We appreciate the partnership with Legal & General and Royal London to deliver this work of scale and would like to thank the many advisers who contributed to the report.”

 Commenting on the research, Chair of the Protection Distributors Group, Alan Knowles said: “The research is very enlightening and could suggest that if protection is being discussed with mortgage customers that it’s not always being done in a manner that impresses its true value and importance.”

Vikki Jefferies, Proposition Director at Primis added: “With less than a third of UK adults able to correctly identify what income insurance is, it will be up to advisers to help boost consumer awareness on this product.”

David Ellis, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Royal London, commented: “The big three findings are the lack of trust around claims statistics, the poor customer understanding around Income Protection, and the fact that the vast majority of consumers think life insurance is important but only the minority have it. We will continue to work with advisers and support them to overcome the challenges highlighted in the report.”

 Craig Brown, Director, Intermediary Insurance at Legal & General, said: “The report suggests a communication gap exists between what advisers think they are transmitting versus the messages customers are actually receiving. We would welcome an industry wide focus from insurers and distributors to highlight the importance of protecting all potentially vulnerable people and families.”

Launch of Protection Specialists Group

The launch of the report coincides with the launch of a new AMI Protection Specialists Group (PSG), which combines heads of protection, proposition directors and practitioners across a range of firms, networks and mortgage clubs.

The purpose of the group is to focus on pure protection and general insurance (GI) issues, providing insight and front-line experience into issues and opportunities facing the market.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI added: “The PSG will help shape AMI’s policy and lobbying positions and develop future strategy in the protection arena. The AMI board wants to hear more from this group as there is a need for representation of member firms that distribute and provide advice on protection products, as this is a core aspect of work that member firms undertake.

“The group will discuss and debate topics that are currently relevant to GI and protection products and affect a mortgage intermediary firm. This will include: Market issues, Regulatory consultations, Industry collaboration.”

15/10/2020 - AMI Viewpoint - protection market research event launch

In September 2020, AMI, along with sponsors L&G and Royal London, commissioned market research company Opinium to obtain consumer and adviser views on the protection market. The research involved 5,000 UK adults and included a survey designed for mortgage and protection advisers.

The results of this research will be shared during a virtual launch event ‘The New Protection Challenge’ on the morning of Wednesday 4 November 2020 (9am for 9.15am start). The 30-minute event will discuss some of the key findings and include insight and analysis from industry experts.

The event will be accompanied by a report, which will include features from AMI’s Chief Executive Robert Sinclair, sponsors L&G and Royal London and Kevin Carr (Chief Executive of Protection Review and co-Chair of the IPTF), as well as the views of mortgage and protection advisers.

The event is open to AMI members, as well as non-members, via registration.

Registration for the event is open now, through this link.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“This event marks the re-launch of AMI’s ‘Viewpoint’ publication series. We decided to focus on protection as the inaugural topic, as we recognise that this is an important area of advice for mortgage intermediary firms.

This also supports AMI’s interest in the mortgage protection space. We recently launched our                                                                        Protection Specialists Group, made up of individuals with mortgage and protection expertise from AMI member firms. The group aims to provide insight and front-line experience into issues and opportunities facing the market.

We recognise that there are many established groups who already focus on protection and carry out excellent work. Our aim is to not detract from this, but rather support and enhance it. Collaboration is important for our industry and we look forward to working alongside other protection groups, to meet the common goal of ensuring the correct consumer outcomes.”

28/09/2020 - AMI announces Board election timetable

AMI has announced details of its Board elections which will take place in November. As part of being an open and transparent body, which is fully representative of its members and their interests, the period for nominations for certain Board positions has now been opened.  These are part of the process where all Board positions are re-elected on at least a three-year rolling cycle, although existing members of the Board may stand for re-election.  This year’s Board elections will take place in the:

  • Mortgage Club constituency;
  • National firm constituency;
  • Network constituency; and the
  • Association of Finance Brokers constituency.

Any AMI member firm who falls under one of these constituencies can nominate a member of their senior management team to stand for election.  To stand, individuals must complete a nomination and also be nominated by an AMI member from within the same constituency.  Nominations must be returned to AMI by 26 October.

Should more than one AMI member per constituency want to stand for the Board, a contested election will take place.  Those individuals standing will be required to submit a biography and an election manifesto to those constituents eligible to vote.  Ballot papers for a contested election will be sent out by 3 November.

The results will be announced on 20 November.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, commented:

“The AMI Board plays a vital role for the organisation in providing direction and policy guidance to AMI’s activities. Members wishing to serve as AMI Board members must be committed advocates of the intermediary distribution channel and prepared to represent not just their own constituents but the entire mortgage intermediary profession.  We hope AMI members will want to contribute to the trade body’s work and shape our ongoing agenda by standing for election.”

AMI members who wish to stand for election to the Board and are in any of the above constituencies can make the required nomination by e-mailing info@a-m-i.org.uk.  National firms are those with over 100 advisers.

03/07/2020 - AMI welcomes regulatory fees and levies savings for intermediary firms

The FCA yesterday published its policy statement and ‘made rules’ for regulated fees and levies 2020/21.

Whilst the FCA fees remain broadly level for mortgage intermediaries, firms whose turnover has remained consistent will see a reduction in total cost of regulated fees year on year, due, in the main, to a reduction in the levies paid for by mortgage intermediary firms towards the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

AMI is delighted that our lobbying during the review of the FSCS in 2016-18 is showing real benefit to intermediary firms at an important time.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“AMI welcomes the reduction in FSCS fee costs for firms in the midst of this pandemic and at a time when capital resources are more challenging for firms.  We regret that firms with invoices over £10k will have to pay within 30 days, but are supportive that smaller firms will have 90 days to pay.

Whilst we are delighted that firms will not see a real increase in their total fees and levies costs this year, we remain acutely aware of the challenges faced by firms and the interrelation between capital adequacy requirements, PII, FOS and the FSCS costs. I was heartened to hear Charles Randell’s (FCA Chair) statement[1] that they needed to redesign the system to ensure that polluting firms in the financial sector pay, not those who have behaved well.  AMI will continue to work to hold the FCA to account and ensure that intermediary fees are proportionate to the risks posed.”

21/05/2020 - AMI calls for revision of FCA budgets for 2020

AMI has submitted its response to the FCA’s consultation on its proposed regulated fees and levies for 2020/21.

AMI is disappointed that the FCA did not echo the government’s approach of offering a raft of changes and support for firms of all sizes. Unlike HMRC’s approach to money laundering supervision fees, the FCA has prioritised its own agenda and plans for the next one to three years above the needs of the firms that it regulates.  The minutes of the FCA Board meeting of the 26 March detail that when considering a range of mitigations to ease the financial burden on firms the “balance between easing this burden and ensuring the FCA could deliver its business plan and meet its financial commitments was also considered.”  Consequently, the FCA prioritised funding for a business plan that was designed before the crisis hit and is now largely on hold and potentially out of date, over additional support for firms.

AMI calls for the FCA to focus on maintaining the integrity of the market for the recovery.  The mortgage intermediary sector needs support from the regulator to ensure that firms will survive this crisis both in the short-term, but also into next year when cash-flow levels may not have fully recovered.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“Whilst we support the freezing of fees for smaller firms, we cannot support this cost transfer to larger firms.  The changes to the proposed fees in light of the Covid-19 pandemic should have been greater and further reaching.  We are concerned that the FCA’s fee proposals neither reduce its current expenditure nor suggest an intention to reduce spending next year in view of the likely reduced turnover of and indeed likely reduced number of regulated advisory firms.  The FCA should look to reduce operational costs where possible rather than continuing along the path that was deemed appropriate pre-crisis.  Essential costs including authorisation, supervision and enforcement must be prioritised over strategy and competition agendas until there is a clearer view of the post-lockdown landscape.

Mortgage intermediaries will be vital in the new world where consumers are more vulnerable and with higher amounts of both secured and unsecured debt.  People will need good quality advice to help them to understand the best product available, under their potentially changed circumstances, to meet their needs.  As with the trapped borrower cohort, advice will be key.  This budget should be referred back to the Board to reconsider its position.”

19/05/2020 - AMI welcomes insurer changes following FCA guidance

On 14 May 2020 the FCA confirmed guidance for insurance and premium finance firms, with the aim to help customers who may be facing financial difficulties due to coronavirus. It applies to GI and protection contracts and aligns the assistance available to options provided for other financial products, such as mortgages and unsecured loans.

AMI is supportive of insurers who allow customers to pay back deferred payments over a period of months, as the ability to stagger repayments rather than in one lump sum may encourage the customer to keep their cover in force, instead of cancelling a direct debit. This ensures that cover such as protection continues uninterrupted.

Insurers need to be clear on how they deal with broker commission during a customer payment deferral and a sensible and fair approach would be for there to be no impact on commission. Some insurers have already confirmed this, and AMI encourages transparency from other insurers.

Within their statements on payment deferrals many insurers have recommended financial advice. It is crucial that customers understand the effects of deferring payments and receive advice to assess whether this is the best option given their circumstances. Mortgage intermediaries are well placed to provide advice and is why it is so important that insurers communicate clearly and promptly to intermediaries what customer assistance is available.

Stacy Reeve, Senior Policy Adviser at AMI said:

“Protection and general insurance advice during these times is more important than ever and intermediaries, many of whom have built strong relationships with their customers and are a trusted adviser, can help customers to understand the options available.

Communication between insurer and intermediary is also key so that the help can reach those customers who need it the most. The FCA has been clear that they will want to see firms across the distribution chain working together to ensure that customers are treated fairly, so joined-up communication is vital.

Intermediaries may wish to use this FCA guidance to ignite protection discussions with their customers. Customers may be actually or potentially vulnerable and the uncertain situation we find ourselves in can be very unnerving for many. Ensuring that customers maintain appropriate cover has got to be the aim”.

14/05/2020 - Getting the UK moving

Following lobbying work and policy development by a range of trade bodies including AMI and member firms, the government has issued updated guidance on home moving during the Covid-19 outbreak to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so.  The guidance provides important public health based information for both the public and the industry to ensure that moving home and key activities around this, such as viewing property, can happen safely.  AMI welcomes and is supportive of these changes which put our industry right at the heart of restoring economic activity in the country.

AMI expects that the full return to operations may take some time.  As government guidance is clear, staff should continue to work from home if at all possible.  The vast majority of mortgage advice can be completed from home via IT support and telephone.  Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety.  This means they need to think about the risks their employees face in estate agency, new build and other office environments and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them.  Many businesses have furloughed staff and will need to decide who to bring back and when.  Staff will need additional training to ensure that they understand the new requirements and procedures which will take longer and be more complex.  The majority of activity will need to be by appointment and be with people from single households.  All businesses should continue to follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus and safer working guidance.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“This does not represent a return to normality.  The process of finding and moving into a new home will need to be different given those involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of the spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible.  However, it does signal that firms involved in new build sales and advice, estate agency, valuations, conveyancing and removal as well as mortgage advice can open and transact.

Adherence to social distancing and the highest safety standards will be absolutely paramount and all precautions will be taken to protect people viewing property.  We also have new industry guidance covering estate agents, valuations and moving which has been developed to ensure we keep people as safe as possible in the process.  Getting physical valuations and removals back makes a big difference, but we all have a role to play in ensuring everyone acts responsibly.”

28/04/2020 - AMI responds to UK Finance payment holiday press release

Following the UK Finance announcement of the industry agreement allowing PTs to be taken by consumers who have had a payment holiday agreed or have been furloughed, AMI responds to say that consumers should take mortgage advice so that they understand the options available to them.

AMI supports lender flexibility on product transfers in the current climate, however consumers should not be led to think that this is the only solution. AMI is concerned that this approach steers consumers down one path and raises the question whether this approach is in the customers’ best interests.

When mortgage payment holidays were announced, it was commented by many that they should not be viewed as the only solution and this same logic needs to apply once a consumer reaches the end of their mortgage incentive period.

UK Finance in a blog released today on this topic comments that “for those who want help selecting the right product for them, advice is widely available from both mortgage brokers and lenders”. This is a view which AMI fully endorses.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“Whilst this support for consumers is positive and avoids the consumer falling onto a lender’s SVR, it is inward-looking as it makes no consideration as to whether the deals offered are appropriate.

Some customers may find that if they revoke their mortgage payment holiday and re-mortgage, it could result in a more suitable outcome. They also may not be aware of how a specific deal compares to others in the marketplace.

As a result of Covid-19 many more consumers may be vulnerable, so it is vitally important that they explore their options. Whilst a PT may seem the most straightforward option, consumers should talk to a mortgage broker as they are well placed to assess individual circumstances”.

21/04/2020 - Guide to saving protection policies

Covid-19 is resulting in financial difficulty for many and may lead to clients cancelling their protection insurance direct debits. Whilst the current crisis is not directly comparable to the financial crisis of 2007/08, many advisers who were working in the industry at that time will recall the same happening and recognise the need to be proactive.

Advisers are well placed to engage and educate their clients about the benefits of their existing policies, as well as discussing alternative options to cancellation. It is important that clients make an informed decision and not one that is in haste, without due consideration given to how injury and illnesses are still a threat to everyday life.

To assist advisers, the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), the Protection Distributors Group (PDG) and the Income Protection Taskforce (IPTF) have, in collaboration, created a guide to suggest ways that advisers can offer support and guidance to their clients to ensure that cover is maintained.

The guide, which is being made widely available, can be found attached to this press release.

 Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“Before Covid-19 hit, income protection policies sales were increasing and the ‘Access to Insurance’ sign posting agreement made positive strides to help clients with disabilities and medical conditions find suitable cover.

It is important that this momentum is not lost, as protection needs continue to exist. The value that intermediaries add is crucial to ensuring clients realise the far-reaching effects that cancelling cover could have on their lives.

Many intermediaries are already contacting clients and generating discussion, but AMI, PDG and IPTF hope that this guide will be a useful tool. It was important for AMI to collaborate with the PDG and IPTF during these difficult times and to make sure as many people as possible benefit from the content.”

01/04/2020 - FCA and other regulatory fees for 2020

AMI has been in discussion with the FCA over the 2020/21 regulatory fees to be levied on member firms.  Given the extreme situations facing society and firms we have requested that FCA considers deferring or reducing the fee costs facing firms.

The FCA has indicated that it will consult as part of its normal fees process on assisting smaller firms for July invoicing.  There is no detail as yet on what that might comprise, but we warmly welcome the support being considered.  However, the 1100 larger firms under FCA authorisation are required to make their “On Account” payments today, 1 April.  These represent the bulk of the fees due in the year.

AMI considers that discriminating in favour of smaller firms is unfair on our other members.  These larger firms have the same overheads and costs in proportion as smaller firms.  Whilst able to meet these costs, these larger firms need to preserve cash to protect their business and staff in the same way as all in the economy.  In making decisions which might include pay reductions, furlough or redundancy, having to make these payments increases the likelihood of having to make decisions which impact on people and their longer term business.

The housing and mortgage markets are changing rapidly and significantly.  The FCA needs to be focussed on maintaining the integrity of the market for the recovery.  We do not see the FCA making similar sacrifices as this week it announced the launch of its 2020 Apprenticeship Scheme.  It continues to operate “business as usual” as the firms it regulates struggle to manage their customers’ expectations whilst working from home.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“We have asked for support for all our firms and have received some comfort.  Firms are making decisions today to ensure they are here to support the recovery as we come out of lockdown.  All firms need the same backing and I call on the FCA to reconsider this decision and not penalise larger firms by taking important cash from their bank at this difficult time.  These firms are planning cash flow to year end and would really benefit from retaining cash in the business.  We believe that Government should be supporting the costs of our regulators at this time.”

26/11/2019 - AMI Board elections

AMI has now completed its election process and the results are:-

  • The Practitioner Constituency (3 vacancies) – Andrew Montlake (Coreco) and Scott Taylor-Barr (Carl Summers Financial Services) are re-elected and Abi Greenhalgh (Nest Financial Services) is elected.
  • The Regional Constituency (2 vacancies) – Ray Boulger (John Charcol) is re-elected and Dan Maskell (The Finance Planning Group) is elected.
  • The National Constituency (1 vacancy) – Will Hale (Key) is re-elected.
  • Network Constituency (2 vacancies) – Richard Howells (Sesame) is elected and Peter Curran (Countrywide/Mortgage Next/Mortgage Intelligence) is re-elected.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“This process ensures that the membership affirms that it is being properly represented.  I would like to thank all those who stood for election which ensures a democratic process.  I would also like to express my sincere thanks to John Whyte of The Right Equity Release for his contribution during his six of service and support.”

07/10/2019 - AMI announces Board election timetable

AMI has announced details of its Board elections which will take place in November. As part of being an open and transparent body, which is fully representative of its members and their interests, the period for nominations for certain Board positions has now been opened.  These are part of the process where all Board positions are re-elected on at least a three-year rolling cycle, although existing members of the Board may stand for re-election.  This year’s Board elections will take place in the:

  • Regional firm constituency;
  • National firm constituency;
  • Network constituency; and the
  • Practitioner constituency.

Any AMI member firm who falls under one of these constituencies can nominate a member of their senior management team to stand for election.  To stand, individuals must complete a nomination form and be nominated by an AMI member from within the same constituency.  Nomination forms must be returned to AMI by 28 October.

Should more than one AMI member per constituency want to stand for the Board, a contested election will take place.  Those individuals standing will be required to submit a biography and an election manifesto to those constituents eligible to vote.  Ballot papers for a contested election will be sent out by 8 November.

The results will be announced on 29 November.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, commented:

“The AMI Board plays a vital role for the organisation in providing direction and policy guidance to AMI’s activities. Members wishing to serve as AMI Board members must be committed advocates of the intermediary distribution channel and prepared to represent not just their own constituents but the entire mortgage intermediary profession.  We hope AMI members will want to contribute to the trade body’s work and shape our ongoing agenda by standing for election.”

AMI members who wish to stand for election to the Board and are in any of the above constituencies can request a nomination form by e-mailing info@a-m-i.org.uk.  Regional firms are classed as having between 6 and 100 advisers; national firms with over 100 advisers and practitioners must be members who spend at least 70% of their working week advising customers on mortgages and related needs.

13/05/2019 - AMI challenges content of Government How to Buy & How to Sell homes guides

On 7 May 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published these new guides.  AMI has been is discussion with MHCLG during the creation of these and since publication.  We have asked for alterations to the documents some of which have been refused.

We are advising our member firms of the content of these documents as they may be unaware of the potential impact.  Within the text there a number of embedded links to a membership-based consumer charity.  When taken to the linked pages users will then be offered the option to talk to one of the mortgage advisers in their connected commercial arm.

We have asked for sight of any due diligence, tendering processes or internal approval processes, but have not had this shared.

We will continue to raise our concerns over this implicit endorsement of one advisory firm over others and lobby to have this changed.

Robert Sinclair, AMI Chief Executive said:-

“We are extremely disappointed at the approach taken here on what are an otherwise excellent series of documents.  However, we cannot support or endorse the promotion of one advisory firm, even indirectly at the expense of others.  AMI has always championed a level playing field on all matters and will continue to do so.

We hope that MHCLG will reconsider their approach and move to a more balanced position.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-buy-a-home

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-sell-a-home

 

31/01/2019 - FSCS published its 2019/20 plan and budget

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has today confirmed its plan and budget for 2019/20. Mortgage brokers will see a significant fall in the amounts invoiced by the FCA this year, as they will no longer be paying towards pensions and investment claims which are estimated at £175m this year.  All intermediary classes will also gain from the provider contributions now coming into force.

This year’s levy for mortgage claims is estimated at £5m, but only £4m will be levied on brokers as the remaining £1m is paid by lenders.  It is positive to see the claims level fall from £25m paid by mortgage brokers last year.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“This has been a two year journey to achieve a fairer outcome for all mortgage brokers and it will have a significant impact on this year’s fees.  This was a significant win for AMI who were often the only entity arguing for these new and fairer class allocations and for the new 25% provider contributions.”

21/01/2019 - AMI annual dinner 2019

TSB has agreed to sponsor the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) dinner to be held on 20th June this year at the Sheraton Park Lane in London.

The annual summer networking dinner with top ranking entertainment continues to attract over 300 attendees from the mortgage lender and advice sectors.

Roland McCormack, TSB’s mortgage intermediary director, said: “We are delighted and honoured to be sponsoring the AMI dinner. The work Robert and team do on behalf of brokers is vital in ensuring we have a strong and vibrant Intermediary sector, focused on giving quality advice and product choice to customers.”

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of AMI said: “I am really pleased that TSB has become the second ever sponsor of the AMI Annual Dinner.  As a significant challenger Bank who are keen to be at the front of innovation and change in the market and as passionate advocates of the intermediary, it is great to have them supporting our main event in the mortgage calendar.  The AMI Board is delighted to welcome the partnership with Roland and the team.”

11/12/2018 - AMI annual dinner 2019

After 15 years, AMI and Santander have agreed that it is the right time to find a new sponsor for the AMI Annual Dinner.

Robert Sinclair, AMI Chief Executive said

“I and the AMI board are exceptionally grateful for the generous support the team at Santander have provided over the last fifteen years.  This has been a significant commitment by a lender which has always shown tangible investment in the intermediary sector.  We are now moving into a new era, but will always recognise what this sponsorship delivered, particularly as we became established as an independent trade body. A big thank you to Miguel, Brad and the team.”

Brad Fordham, Managing Director of Santander for Intermediaries said

“This was not an easy decision, but the right one for both organisations now.  We will continue to support and work with Robert and AMI on industry and policy issues as we always have.  This gives other lenders the opportunity to support one of the key dinners in our industry.”

25/10/2018 - AMI objects to increasing the FOS claims limit

Last week the FCA proposed increasing the compensation limit of the Financial Ombudsman Scheme (FOS) from £150,000 to £350,000.  AMI strongly opposes this significant increase.

By more than doubling the compensation limit the FCA has lost sight of both its own and FOS’s purpose.  FOS was set up with a £100,000 limit and raised to £150,000 in 2012 in line with inflation.  Its purpose was to cater for cases that could be dealt with speedily and by using dispute resolution techniques to gain agreement.  Cases above these levels were deemed to be more appropriate for legal decisioning in courts based on contract law.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“Accessing dispute resolution for such significant cases on a fair and reasonable basis rather than a proper legal dispute procedure through the courts is just inappropriate.

Just because there are examples of higher claims being paid out does not warrant a radical increase to the FOS limit.  Even most of the respondents who agreed to the extension of FOS eligibility to include larger SMEs did not support an increase to the limit, with only three suggesting that it should be that high.  Relying purely on data analysis is not a sufficient justification.  It was always considered that higher value disputes with complex arguments should be the subject of legal remedy rather than FOS.

AMI will respond to the consultation accordingly and we encourage individual firms to do the same.”

19/10/2018 - AMI concerns over FCA extension to the Financial Ombudsman Scheme

AMI is deeply concerned around the FCA’s approach to the changes to the Financial Ombudsman Scheme (FOS).  This week the FCA confirmed it will extend access to FOS to include larger SMEs.

The FCA announced that respondents had “strongly supported” this extension of FOS. There were 65 responses, 13 of which raised fundamental objections to extend the eligibility.  There has been a failure to recognise that most of these were raised by trade associations who respond on behalf of their members and represent their respective sectors.  We consider that the voices of and the fees paid by mortgage and protection advisers; investment and financial advisers; asset, consumer and motor finance providers; general insurance brokers; life assurance and wealth management firms; wholesale insurers and reinsurers; electronic money issuers; and debt collection companies are not insignificant.  We also believe that the claim to have received agreement from the “significant majority” is misleading, particularly as a fifth of those who agreed were from individuals or SMEs themselves.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“By diminishing the pushback to this extension it is apparent that the FCA had already decided it was going ahead with its proposals and has tried to find the justification.  To take the number of responses into account rather than who they represent is a skewed approach to analysing feedback.

The minutes from the FCA’s Board meeting in July, published nearly a week before the policy statement, show that this was not even a consideration in their decision.  It has never been intended that those acting for business or professional reasons are afforded the same protections as consumers.  However we are moving to a world where the regulator considers every area of ‘harm’ as their responsibility and that it is easier to simply widen its scope rather than address the issue directly.   Accessing dispute resolution on a fair and reasonable basis rather than a proper legal dispute procedure through the courts is just inappropriate.”

12/10/2018 - AMI response to the creation of a Global Financial Innovation Network

AMI has responded to the FCA consultation on creating a new Global Financial Innovation Network comprising international regulators. The proposals set out the functions of the forum and the introduction of a global sandbox.

It however omits fundamental information, particularly the costs of the GFIN and how they will be apportioned to firms.  The FCA is legally required to undertake and publish a cost benefit analysis (CBA) before proposing or amending rules with CBAs having been historically included as part of any consultation, on the basis that the regulator has considered them to be “about transparency” and “an important part of the FCA’s accountability framework”.  For such significant proposals to lack any estimate of costs and whether they are proportionate to the potential benefits contradicts its commitment to transparency and the overall requirement to be transparent.

In publishing this paper the FCA referred to these proposals as following an initial consultation in February 2018 to which 50 responses were received.  However we have been unable to locate this “initial consultation” on the FCA website nor does it appear to have been made public to fee-paying firms.  It is AMI’s view that this has been developed on the basis of limited discussions with ‘innovative’ firms.  The FCA’s 2018/19 Business Plan, published in April, stated that “last month we invited stakeholders to share their views on what a global sandbox could look like; there is a lot of interest in the idea of cross-border testing and the benefits this could bring”.  This is the only prior public reference to its work on a global sandbox.  AMI has asked the regulator to publish its “initial consultation”, a list of the 50 ‘respondents’, and the stakeholders involved in these working groups (including the proportion of authorised and non-authorised firms and the percentage that these firms contribute to the FCA’s fees).

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“We are concerned that the FCA continues to expand its innovation agenda by expanding its remit and objectives, and inappropriately allocating resources with a disregard for the firms that fund it.

The FCA is expected to focus on relevant consumer and market issues, so helping overseas technology firms become authorised in the UK should not be a priority.  It is already being anti-competitive with its existing sandbox as it gives dedicated regulatory support for some unauthorised firms (paid for by industry) whereas regulated firms have only the FCA call centre as a point of contact.  To extend this cross-subsidisation of costs on an international scale is inappropriate for a domestic-facing regulator.  The global sandbox will only benefit the firms that are in it and the FCA’s reputation for facilitating innovation.

We are seeing a regulator that is less transparent and less willing to listen to feedback.  This is a consultation in name only and we think that these proposals have been developed with selected stakeholders, with discussions mislabelled as consultations, and will no doubt continue to be implemented without any consideration of costs or industry feedback.”

Our response can be found here.

09/10/2018 - AMI response to the new FCA directory

AMI has responded to the FCA consultation on a new directory which will continue to show Appointed Representatives after the Senior Managers & Certification Regime has been extended.  This meets the requirements set out under the Mortgage Credit Directive.  AMI supports the addition of mortgage advisers to this list to enhance transparency for firms and consumers.

AMI has identified a lack of co-ordination between related consultations and the duplication of remit.  The Work and Pensions Select Committee asked the FCA to improve its register, specifically to ensure that consumers could check if a firm or individual has had their permissions restricted or suspended.  The FCA is however proposing to go further than these recommendations by creating a tool for consumers to find advisers even though this facility is already provided by the Money Advice Service (MAS).

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“We are concerned that the FCA appears to be working in siloes both internally and distinct from organisations it’s supposed to be collaborating with.  There is a risk of a waste of resources.

AMI perceives that there is a regulatory view that MAS is a third party on par with a commercial firm, whereas MAS is a statutory body funded by industry in the same way as the FCA.  The memorandum of understanding between MAS and the FCA commits to “minimise inconsistency and duplication and to promote coordination” by “working together on information aimed at consumers”. We would have expected the FCA to consider MAS’s existing retirement adviser directory rather than the duplication set out in these proposals.  The FCA should have also consulted more widely before adding this function to the current register.

These proposals directly cut across the Mortgages Market Study work on broker choice published in May 2018, and we are asking the competition team to reconsider their plans given this directory consultation published in July.  The new directory will show a list of all advisers, including mortgage advisers, and the information that will be displayed addresses most of the issues raised in the market study.  Firms shouldn’t be asked to pay for two pieces of similar work running side by side. Our view is that the new directory should stop at the point of outlining firms’ permissions and any search facility to find an appropriate adviser should sit within the adviser directory held by MAS and its successor.”

Our response can be found here.

08/10/2018 - AMI announces Board election timetable

AMI has announced details of its Board elections which will take place in November. As part of being an open and transparent body, which is fully representative of its members and their interests, the period for nominations for certain Board positions has now been opened.  These are part of the process where all Board positions are re-elected on at least a three-year rolling cycle, although existing members of the Board may stand for re-election.  This year’s Board elections will take place in the National firm constituency, the Network constituency and the Club constituency.

Any AMI member firm who falls under one of these constituencies can nominate a member of their senior management team to stand for election.  To stand individuals must complete a nomination form and be nominated by an AMI member from within the same constituency.  Nomination forms must be returned to AMI by 29 October.

Should more than one AMI member want to stand for the Board, a contested election will take place.  Those individuals standing will be required to submit a biography and an election manifesto to those constituents eligible to vote.  Ballot papers for a contested election will be sent out by 12 November.

The results will be announced on 30 November.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, commented:

“The AMI Board plays a vital role for the organisation in providing direction and policy guidance to AMI’s activities. Members wishing to serve as AMI Board members must be committed advocates of the intermediary distribution channel and prepared to represent not just their own constituents but the entire mortgage intermediary profession.  We hope AMI members will want to contribute to the trade body’s work and shape our ongoing agenda by standing for election.”

AMI members who wish to stand for election to the Board and are in any of the above constituencies can request a nomination form by e-mailing info@a-m-i.org.uk.  National firms are classed as having over 100 advisers.

31/07/2018 - AMI response to the FCA Mortgages Market Study

AMI has submitted its response to the interim report which set out the FCA findings and the way they would like to see the market develop.  AMI has been involved in numerous meetings, discussions and debate with the market study team, our fellow trade bodies and a wide range of market participants.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“Our main concern with this report has been the focus on price without any validation of the quality of the advice or whether the “cheaper lenders” have the capacity to handle the business assessed.  AMI were strong supporters of the move under MMR to a wider definition of suitability and remain concerned that this report ignores these fundamental market improvements.

We are keen to support a tool that allows consumers to access a database of brokers and see what services are provided in a useful way.  The Money Advice Service Retirement Adviser Directory already provides this for pensions advice and it was originally intended to extend this directory to include mortgage advisers.  In addition, the FCA is consulting on its own Directory of Advisers.  We will liaise with the FCA and the Money Advice Service to consider if these or other approaches would provide the most effective solution. We are however struggling to identify “quality measures” which would fairly differentiate between advisers.

On the work to improve eligibility criteria we are firmly of the view that initiatives in the last 12 to 18 months have moved this agenda forward significantly.  Intervention now may limit or slow innovation, therefore we are keen to avoid making changes of the type suggested.

We are aware that our fellow lender trade bodies are working with their members on improving the situation of mortgage prisoners and hope that the plans deliver an overall improved position.

We will continue to work with the FCA over the coming months to ensure that any proposals meet the needs of consumers and work effectively for all market participants.”

Our response is can be found here.

24/05/2018 - AMI researches the “Free Legals” market

AMI recently surveyed its membership to ascertain how intermediaries are using the “free legals” services offered by many lenders.

In response to a series of questions brokers told us that 73% only recommend free legals on remortgage; 19% on both purchase and remortgage; and 8% do not recommend free legal based products.

82% of brokers told us that the service delivered by “free legal firms” is worse or significantly worse (52%) in comparison to a customer’s own choice of solicitor/conveyancer.

57% preferred a cash-back option (26% preferred products with free legals).

71% of those responding indicated that they were experiencing delays and issues with those providing free legal services.

75% of intermediaries thought that lenders or builders should not offer “free legals” as this is too great a conflict of interest.

Respondents commented “the standard of service is generally poor”.  “Lenders are aware the service is abysmal but they still continue using these firms and that is reprehensible”.  “Not able to get through by phone, missing completion dates – terrible”.  “Firms don’t have one legal adviser dealing with a case, it’s whoever picks up the phone…post is regularly lost… I have to warn the client the process will be bumpy”.  “I prefer cashback products then I can choose which remo solicitor we use.”  “Certainly on a purchase a client should choose their own legal representation.”

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“This survey raises a number of questions on the effectiveness of the free legal services offered to many consumers.  It is clear that the significant majority of brokers would prefer a cashback option where lenders feel that they wish to incentivise aspects of their products.

AMI thinks that all lenders should reconsider their offering of free legals particularly addressing the potential issues of conflict of interest and the quality of service being provided by the firms with whom they have partnered.

AMI will be talking to their lender trade body contacts about these findings.”

04/05/2018 - FCA publishes mortgage market study interim report

AMI welcomes the FCA’s view that the mortgage market is generally working well, that most consumers are switching and that the value of intermediaries is recognised.  We are also pleased that the FCA found little evidence of commercial arrangements causing material harm for consumers and no existence of commission bias, which is consistent with its previous findings four years ago.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“We are pleased to see agreement that the issue of mortgage prisoners, whilst smaller than anticipated, is now acknowledged as significant.  This needs to be tackled and we would like to see lenders taking a more pro-active approach.  In addition, the report provides evidence of the scale of product transfers business which remains unreported.  As it now clearly comprises more than a third of the market, we think that UKFinance and the FCA need to gather and publish this data to reflect its significance.

We are happy to work with lenders to help them meet the existing rules on lenders openly publishing criteria to assist in the Decision in Principle process.  We are however concerned about the view that the advice and suitability rules are hindering consumer choice.  Any dilution of the rules to facilitate online solutions will need careful assessment as the Mortgage Market Review rightly recognised the need to establish, through advice, the suitability of a mortgage for a customer.  The FCA has always stressed that suitability is not price-driven so this is a significant attitude shift.  Anything which will dilute the opportunity for consumers to benefit from advice runs the risk of moving the industry and consumer protections significantly backwards.

We are keen to support a tool that allows consumers to compare the service provided by brokers.  The Money Advice Service already provides this for pensions advice and it was originally intended to extend this directory to include mortgage advisers.  We will work with the FCA and the Money Advice Service to consider if this or other approaches would provide the most effective solution.”

01/05/2018 - FSCS funding review

AMI is delighted that the FCA has listened and agreed with our arguments for a fairer arrangement for mortgage brokers.  From April 2019 mortgage brokers will no longer have to pay for the mis-selling of personal pensions and investment business.  Instead pure protection will form part of the general insurance distribution class.  In addition, all intermediary classes will now benefit from a 25% contribution to costs.

This has been a two year journey to achieve a fairer outcome for all mortgage brokers and it will have a significant impact on the fees levied from 2019.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said:

“The senior management of the FCA listened to our logical arguments and agreed that these changes were sensible.  We believe that these amendments to the funding of the FSCS should deliver a more balanced industry in the future.  In resisting strong lobbying from the provider community, the FCA has stood up in support of smaller advice firms.”

30/01/2018 - AMI Chairman steps down

It is with great regret that AMI has accepted the resignation of its Chairman Pat Bunton as he has stepped down from his role at London & Country mortgages.

This will put in train a process for the Board to elect a new Chairman from within in accordance with the membership rules.  London & Country will nominate a replacement to the Board in due course.

The day-to-day work of AMI will continue through its employed executive team.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, commented:

“I have had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Pat as AMI Chairman for just over five years, in addition to the period before that when he was a fundamental part of the team that extricated AMI from AIFA.

Pat has been a passionate advocate of consumer-focused advice and the role that advisers play in delivering great results to the UK population.  He has given his time and considerable expertise and knowledge for no reward other than knowing he was doing the right thing.  The intermediary sector owes him a great debt for the work he has done on MMR, mortgage prisoners, the ongoing competition review, revision to the Compensation Scheme and a regulator that listens to the mortgage advice community.

In addition he has delivered a financially robust independent trade body which is respected at the highest levels within the regulatory community.  His input will be missed by the team, the Board, the FCA, Bank of England and Treasury.  These will be big shoes to fill.

I would also like to thank the team at L&C who gave us Pat and his contribution without ever counting the many hours we took up.”

Can find what your looking for?
We have lots of articles & publications in our archive which may be able to help. If you can't find what you are looking for please contact us