Press Releases (Archive)

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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. AMI’s archived press output is available on this page.

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

09/07/2015 - AMI response to FCA MMR Advice and Distribution thematic Review

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said

”This report is a further important milestone in the MMR journey. It sets out with some clarity the things that the industry needs to improve upon and acknowledges areas where we have made good progress. This document gives us more information on the FCA’s expectations that we have been trying to determine throughout the MMR.

AMI recognises that it is critical that all lenders and intermediaries focus on all the lessons to improve the total performance across the industry and ensure the best possible results for customers.

We have long advocated greater clarity in the process between Fact Finding, Advice, Making an Application, Underwriting and all the related administration activities. Sign-posting this to advisers and consumers may improve things. It is also clear that work needs to be done to ensure more understanding that advice is not just about the best price, but is about defining the most appropriate criteria then finding the cheapest within the agreed criteria.

AMI will be working with the CML and IMLA in partnership with its member firms to fully understand this report and engineer the required changes to processes and practice. We will also continue to ask FCA to give us clarity around their expectations.”

25/06/2015 - Consultation in name only

In responding to this year’s FCA fees consultation, AMI made a series of objections to the proposals. These covered

  • the overall rise in costs,
  • the rise in the minimum fee,
  • the increases in the fees for mortgage and protection firms,
  • the scale of the fees for consumer credit authorisation even where no income is allocated, and
  • the addition of consumer buy to let fees which most firms already include in their declared income.

AMI is deeply concerned that despite the FCA receiving a significant number of responses challenging the proposals no meaningful changes have been made.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said

”The failure of the FCA to accept any of the arguments offered says much about the current mentality of the organisation as it evolves into a competition authority. The industry is expected to pay for this both in terms of cost and continued damage as it will undoubtedly be found wanting as a new landscape is carved by the changing regime.

There appears no appreciation that the fees being added combined with the surprise elements of FSCS levies are imposing costs that challenge the budget management of firms.

AMI regrets that its case has been ignored to date. The arguments we have proffered are no less valid. It appears that they need to be taken to a wider audience in order to be heard.

In addition, we have been asking for more information on the data that underlies the FSCS levies. The FCA is not communicating with us as fully as we would like on this topic

The AMI Board is considering its next actions.”

26/03/2015 AMI wishes it was only an 8.5% increase in FCA fees

AMI wishes it was only an 8.5% increase in FCA fees

FCA has today commenced its annual consultation on the fee rates it wishes to charge for 2015/16. Mortgage intermediary firms are already receiving interim invoices on this together with interim FSCS fee demands for pensions mis-selling. These will again visit significant increases in costs for firms that will need to be passed on to consumers.

AMI will be responding to this consultation which closes on 18th May 2015 and will be considering if we require more focussed industry action.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said

“Whilst FCA are headlining an 8.5% increase which is being passed on across the board, this is never quite how it plays out in practice. For the small broker who has paid the minimum fee of £1,000 for a number of years, this is to be increased to £1,084 and they will also have to pay a new levy to undertake consumer buy-to-let totalling £350 to include their FOS levy. On top of this brokers have still to see clarity on whether or not they need a Consumer Credit permission to talk about some historic loans and mortgages raised for commercial purposes.

All of this means that the small broker will see their FCA fees rise by over 50% per annum. In a zero inflation world, with government committed to reducing bureaucratic costs, this is a travesty. AMI wants FCA to clearly justify to mortgage brokers the need for such increases when they carrying on the same business they have always done.

For larger firms we also expect to see their bills rise by more than the published 8.5%, and we will be monitoring the final numbers in June carefully.”

26/01/2015 - AMI sees positives in Treasury implementation of EU mortgage directive

Following the consultation in September 2014, the response issued by the Treasury today indicates that their genuine desire is to minimise the impact on firms and consumers following the excellent work done in implementing the Mortgage Market Review.  The new provisions deliver as much flexibility as is possible within the framework delivered by the Brussels legislation.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said, “AMI is delighted that Treasury has listened to the voice of the broker and made changes to take brokers out of the scope of the consumer credit regime for unregulated buy-to-let loans.  In addition the clarification on what comprises regulated consumer buy-to-let is positive.

AMI was concerned that the directive risked an interpretation that regulatory responsibilities lay at an individual level for credit intermediaries and appointed representatives.  It has been clarified that all references remain applicable to firms and their principles, rather than moving down to individual brokers.  The Treasury has also ensured that introducer representatives are not to be fully captured under the consumer credit regime.

There will still be huge challenges for FCA, lenders and brokers in ensuring as seamless a transition as possible, due to the tight timescales involved, but AMI is committed to working with the wider industry to ensure consumers are impacted as little as possible.  We await the FCA policy statement and final rules with interest.”

12/01/2015 - AMI appoints new Senior Policy Adviser

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has appointed Aileen Lees as its new senior policy adviser.  Aileen will report directly to AMI chief executive Robert Sinclair.

Aileen joins the broker trade body from consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com, where she served as an external affairs and campaigns officer.  Prior to this Lees worked in the corporate pensions sector.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said, “AMI is delighted to confirm Aileen’s appointment.  We were very impressed by the quality of applicants and are sure that she will make a huge contribution to the intermediary market and help shape a policy agenda to support the AMI and AFB broker community.”

Aileen Lees, Senior Policy Officer said, “I am looking forward to working closely with the mortgage intermediary market and understanding their issues.  The next two years will see more change in the market and I want to ensure that AMI and AFB are well placed to help consumers get the quality advice they deserve.”

02/10/2014 - Countrywide obtains access to HSBC products

As both parties have said this is an important step forward in the development of the mortgage market post the financial crisis and the deployment of the Mortgage Market Review.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said, “As both parties have said this is an important step forward in the development of the mortgage market post the financial crisis and the deployment of the Mortgage Market Review. Whist this is a small and tentative step, I am delighted with the commitment from both parties to expand on this. I have no doubt that as HSBC develops it systems it will look to increase distribution through a wider range of partners.

I am delighted to see HSBC recognise the real value of the professional intermediary market.”

22/09/2014 - New Job Opportunity at AMI

Having served 5 years in policy analysis at AMI, Alex Revell is leaving to join the Sector Support team at the FCA as a Senior Associate.

Robert Sinclair, AMI Chief Executive said, “This is the third AMI policy person who has left to join the regulator. I am delighted for Alex who has grown during his time with AMI and know that he will continue to champion the right thing for consumers as he develops his career. Alex will be missed by the whole AMI family, but the knowledge he takes to the FCA will benefit the wider industry.

This also gives us the opportunity to recruit a new senior policy analyst to ensure that the intermediary broker market is professionally represented as we absorb the challenges of the new consumer credit regime and the European mortgage directive.

AMI is interested in hearing from individuals who have a background in compliance, or mortgages, or public policy, who are looking to broaden their knowledge and hone their communication skills.

Please download the job profile by clicking here and further details can be obtained from myself by calling on 07957470034.”

25/07/2014 - IMLA and AMI publish joint guidance on lender and intermediary relationships

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) have published a joint framework for the governance of lender and intermediary relationships under the new mortgage rules that are now in place following the final implementation of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) on 26 April.

The framework focuses on shared principles to drive the processes used by lenders in working with their intermediary partners. The aim is to ensure a fair approach to matters including panel suspension or removal so that governance processes are fair, transparent and subject to the appropriate right of appeal.

IMLA and AMI have published the joint statement of good practice to reflect what is currently done within the industry, in order to guide all firms where necessary and ensure mutual understanding, so both lenders and intermediaries can focus on delivering high quality lending and good consumer outcomes.

Peter Williams, Executive Director at IMLA, commented, “The intermediary channel is at the core of the UK mortgage market. Our shared aim is to help lenders and intermediaries think about how best to manage their relationships around the difficult area of panel suspension or removal.

Each lender will differ in the detail of its approach, but the same principles apply across the board. The aim of providing clarity within this general framework is to ensure lenders have processes in place which are as fair and transparent as they can be.”

Robert Sinclair, AMI Chief Executive, commented, “We appreciate the work that has gone into this by our lender colleagues. We are already aware that in negotiating this document, a number of lenders have introduced changes to their procedures. We know that others will complete their reviews shortly. This partnership approach to change is what will continue to make intermediary distribution of mortgages the natural choice of the future.”

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29/05/2014 - AMI Annual Dinner speaker announced

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is celebrating another year of representing the consumers choice for advice in the mortgage world. We will be holding our AMI Annual Dinner on Thursday 12th June 2014 and for the eleventh consecutive year this will be sponsored by Santander for Intermediaries.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said, “The Dinner, which will be held at The Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London, will be addressed by Frank Gardner, who is the BBC’s fulltime Security Correspondent reporting on events from Afghanistan to piracy off the Somali coast to Arctic challenges. Frank was shot 6 times at close range while on assignment in Saudi Arabia in 2004, left severely wounded and dependant on a wheelchair. AMI and our event sponsors, Santander for Intermediaries are delighted to arrange for our guests to hear from an individual who has looked death in the face and continues to provide challenge and insight on complex issues.”

04/04/2014 - AMI Annual Dinner Date Announced

The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries will be holding our eleventh AMI Annual Dinner on Thursday 12th June 2014. For the eleventh consecutive year this will be sponsored by Santander for Intermediaries.

This event brings together brokers, lenders, politicians, regulators and the press in an informal environment which gives great networking opportunities.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI said, “The AMI Annual Dinner will be held at The Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor Square, a modern venue in the heart of London. Following the success of the event in the last couple of years in moving to more modern venues and introducing a more light-hearted theme, we will be continuing this approach.

I am particularly grateful for the on-going contribution from Santander for Intermediaries, who have given us fantastic support over the years. Their support of the intermediary world continues in this time of change.”

Individual tickets are available to members, as are a very limited number of tables.

Those wishing to book a place should contact Iain Cartlidge at Incisive Media:
Tel: 020 7316 9625
Mobile: 0779 0007612
[email protected]

13/01/2014 - Results of elections to the AMI Board members

AMI has recently completed the annual elections to its Board. As an open and transparent body, which is fully representative of its members and their interests, this election was 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 has resulted in David Copland and Gemma Harle being re-elected to represent the Network constituency and Martin Reynolds elected to represent Regional firms.

Patrick Bunton, AMI Chairman said, “The intermediary sector is facing an exciting and challenging period where we will need to have strong and experienced leadership. The regulatory agenda shows no signs of slackening with the European Mortgage Directive and changes to the Approved Persons regime to follow hard on the heels of the Mortgage Market Review. I am therefore delighted to welcome back David Copland and Gemma Harle to represent the Network constituency. I am also pleased to announce that Martin Reynolds of Sandringham Financial Partners was elected to represent the Regional constituency. I look forward to working with them to promote and protect the interest of all our mortgage intermediary member firms.”

David Copland said, “I am delighted to be re-elected to the AMI board, having worked with Robert Sinclair and the team to help in shaping the future of intermediary distribution in the UK. I believe that we have one of the most competitive and mature housing markets in the UK in which the intermediary sector plays a large and important part in delivering solutions to the UK consumer. I am ready to serve a new term which will include the implementation of the MMR, and the challenges that the EU Mortgage credit directive will bring.”

Gemma Harle said, “I am delighted to be able to continue to support AMI in the valuable work they do in representing the intermediary sector and the important role they play in shaping the mortgage market for the future.”

Martin Reynolds said, “This year will see many changes within the mortgage market, initially with MMR but also European legislation and AMI will play an important part in helping the intermediary mortgage advisers adapt and change. I am delighted to be part of the new Board helping to continue raising the profile of our membership.”

03/10/2013 - AMI support’s AR option for Consumer Credit but questions whether it’s time to address the issue of regulatory duplication

FCA has published details of its proposed regime for consumer credit. Whilst the focus of the document is on the new requirements for consumer credit firms, there are some implications for mortgage brokers due to the requirement imposed on them to hold a consumer credit licence.

The FCA has confirmed that an appointed representative regime will be applied to consumer credit under its regulation of the industry. Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, said, “AMI welcomes FCA commitment to allow for an appointed representatives regime to exist for consumer credit activities. The AR proposition is well established across the financial services industry. Those firms that currently act as AR’s for their mortgage business should also be able to do so for related consumer credit activities.

We are concerned that AR firms that currently hold a consumer credit licence will be required to enter the interim permission regime, even though they may be unlikely to become fully authorised, as they are instead able to become ARs for their consumer credit activities.

FCA has provided greater clarity on its proposals for the regulation of consumer credit. However, AMI’s long held view is that the dual regulation of mortgage brokers, resulting from FCA’s regulation and the OFT’s CCL regime, has created an unnecessary regulatory burden on firms. The regulatory transfer process is an ideal time for FCA to tidy up this unnecessary duplication of rules by removing the consumer credit requirements from firms that already hold a mortgage permission.”

ENDS

08/06/2013 - AMI issues latest Quarterly Economic Bulletin - Q2 2013

AMI has issued its latest Quarterly Economic Bulletin which focusses on the UK Economy, Housing and Mortgage Market.

In this latest review, the gradually improving but generally flat UK economy is assessed, outlining the continuing limited growth prospects for the country constrained by the global situation. The report identifies the potential impact this might have on the government’s debt reduction targets, the new focus on housing as a means of promoting growth in the domestic economy and the impact this will have on mortgage availability and interest rates.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, says, “While credit easing and money supply levers are pulled to encourage activity and lending, regulators are bearing down on the banks to increase their capital ratios. The new Financial Policy Committee declared in March that banks need an additional £25bn in capital to cover further losses in their books. This demonstrates the schizophrenia at the heart of policy making. All other things being equal, this means less lending and less profitable banks – not a good way to encourage a return to brisk activity, and at odds with the policies like the extension of the FLS and Help to Buy.

Mortgage fees continue to rise as rates have dropped – the initial fee payable to secure a mortgage product has increased. Moneyfacts calculate that the average fee is now £1,522, the highest in 25 years. Initial arrangement fees are good news for lenders’, allowing profit to be booked on day one. However, the concern is that escalating fees may discriminate against lower end borrowers, who already face an uphill battle to save for both a deposit and the cost of the stamp duty tax. In this environment, advice will be more crucial than ever, and prospective borrowers will need the insight of intermediaries to navigate beyond headline rates to find the most affordable and appropriate mortgage products.”

ENDS

08/06/2013 - AMI sees lots of positives in Budget

Today’s budget gives more than a shot in the arm to the residential housing market. For those who have voiced concerns on the lack of housing starts and completions, the new “Help to Buy” announcements might well be the steroid drug infusion package that many have been calling for. By using government guarantees to underpin higher loan to value lending, this will assist lenders to offer more of this type of product without it impacting on their capital and liquidity positions.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, said, “The new higher loan to value guarantees combined with the proposal to introduce government interest free loans for more than first time buyers must give encouragement to house-builders and to those looking to move up the housing ladder. This product which looks like an “imitation” of the Castle Trust product shows a government that has been listening to the market, but may have cut the ground from under that commercial product. The £600k house value limit is higher than we would have expected, as it may have been limited to the £500k Stamp Duty limit.

Of course the costs of these initiatives, if effective, will see an increase in activity levels and therefore be more than off-set by the tax take from Stamp Duty. The lack of any tidying of this tax remains as a key priority for the market, but clearly is still needed to fund initiatives such as these.

On a more parochial level the reduction in employer National Insurance contributions from April 2014, is a massive boost to small firms like AMI.”

ENDS

08/06/2013 - AMI laments issues in Consumer Credit move to FCA

Today’s announcement and consultations on moving the responsibilities for the Consumer Credit Act from the OFT to the embryonic FCA present the industry with a series of challenges and a missed opportunity.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, said, “The proposal to increase the cost of regulation from £10m to £25m adds another layer of expense to business that is already struggling like the rest of the economy. When combined with the higher hurdles that the FCA will impose on firms to reach full authorisation, we will undoubtedly have fewer firms paying these higher costs.

With the truncated 8 week consultation periods on both the Treasury and FSA papers with Easter in the middle, this will make it difficult for trade bodies to fully consider, consult and feedback on all the issues. As these proposals have been some time in the making, this is disappointing.

In setting out the framework now, we will not see the new conduct rules until late in 2013, with a plan to implement on 1 April 2014. This does not leave enough time for firms to absorb the proposals, recognise the risks and react appropriately. Perhaps the choice of All Fools Day is appropriate. The proposed 6 month dual regime is unlikely to be long enough for legal certainty or practical implementation.

An opportunity missed is the silence on removing the need for mortgage broker to also hold the consumer credit permission. As many hold this only to cover simple reviewing or advising on settling unsecured credit, surely this could be rolled into MCOB and avoid many firms who are already authorised by the FSA needing to go through this interim regime process.”

ENDS

08/06/2013 - AMI issues latest Quarterly Economic Bulletin

AMI has issued its latest Quarterly Economic Bulletin which focusses on the UK Economy, Housing and Mortgage Market.

In this latest review, the stagnating UK economy is assessed, outlining the continuing down-grading of growth prospects for the country in the next few years. The report identifies the potential impact this might have on the government’s debt reduction targets and the connected risk of this blowing the promised economic recovery off course.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, says, “In spite of negative news on GDP, the employment, price inflation and wage cost numbers continue to impress. Perhaps the negativity on GDP is masking the fact that with interest rates where they are, large number of people still find life very affordable.

AMI shares the CML predictions for much more gross lending in 2013, with further growth in the buy-to let market a strong certainty. Whilst there has been much concern over the plight of the first-time-buyer, and various steps have been taken to address this, we are concerned over the “squeezed middle”. These are owners who are looking to move for the first or second time, but whose equity has shrunk, or with tighter criteria might not even qualify for the mortgage they have today. Unless they can trade up, the market remains congested and subdued.”

Read our latest Quarterly Economic Bulletin here

ENDS

02/05/2013 - FCA finds no evidence of systemic mis-selling of Interest-only mortgages

In the FCA guidance consultation on dealing fairly with interest-only mortgage customers and its thematic review report on the maturity of interest-only mortgages, the FCA has clearly identified that customers are responsible for repaying their interest-only loans. The guidance will require lenders to have clear policies and procedures in place to manage mortgages that may not be repaid in full by the end of their term, including a consideration of what options could be offered to assist these types of customers. Lenders must also act to communicate the potential risk of non-repayment to relevant customers early and frequently enough to give customers sufficient time to consider their maturity options.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, said, “In this substantial study of the issues surrounding the maturity of interest-only mortgages, the FCA has not found evidence of systemic mis-selling in the residential interest-only market. It has found that the vast majority of consumers who took out these products understood the terms associated with the loan. However, some customers will need support to ensure that they are able to appropriately manage the maturity of their interest-only mortgage.

To ensure that consumers can make the required adjustments to their mortgages, lenders will need to be flexible in the way they consider affordability assessments. It may not be appropriate for consumers who are looking to move to a capital repayment loan, fully or in part, to be assessed through the current affordability models being employed by lenders. Many of these are set to limit new business flows and might not work in the consumer’s wider best interests. The MMR transition rules should be used to assist with this process once they come in to force.

FCA clearly places the onus on the consumer to repay, however lenders must provide support to assist customers who have maturity issues. Intermediaries may be the first point of contact for some customers but ultimately this is a lender issue.”

ENDS

09/04/2013 - AMI concerned by new FCA fees and costs

For the first time since the concept of the new twin peaks regulatory structure was proposed, we can now to see the true cost to the industry. In announcing their fees proposals, the Annual Funding Requirement of the combined PRA and FCA entities will increase from £560m to £646m. This increase of 15% is made worse by the loss of the off-set of financial penalties, so increasing the amount to be funded by firms to an additional 24%. The impact on firms is shown in the appendix to this release.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, said, “The commitment to maintain minimum fees at £1,000 for all directly authorised smaller firms is welcome news. Indeed with the fall in the FSCS levies, the bill for the smallest firms will be much lower than last year. However this should not mask significant increases in the direct costs of the regulator and massive increases for larger firms.

Indeed the FCA bill for all but the smallest firms holding mortgage and general insurance permissions will increase by around 50% versus last years’ FSA invoice. For the very few firms who are dual regulated, the increases will be even greater.

The only saving grace is that the invoices that will land in July will be smaller than last year. This is because the levies for the Compensation Scheme are much less than last year. Whilst some might feel that the new FCA has been saved by the FSCS, I would counsel caution as the continual upward trend in the cost of our regulators must be stopped and a cap put on their funding. They must learn to prioritise and allocate resources accordingly, as they would require the firms they monitor to do.

AMI will be responding vigorously to this consultation. As the regulator appears to have the funding they need, they must be held to account to perform better in protecting consumers and all good firms from those that continue to do damage to our industry. The proposals to review the funding arrangements will give us the opportunity to establish if there might be a fairer way to pay. The mortgage intermediary community presents a very limited systemic risk, which is indemnified by our commitment to FOS and the FSCS. A fairer deal for firms that present the lowest risk is an avenue we need to consider. We need to ensure great value for our hard earned money”

ENDS

01/02/2013 - SimplyBiz Mortgages Joins AMI

With immediate effect SimplyBiz Mortgages have joined AMI as an Affiliate member.

Martin Reynolds, Chief Executive of SimplyBiz Mortgages commented “We are delighted to be joining AMI at a very important time within the mortgage market. We now have the final rules of the Mortgage Market Review and working with AMI we will aim to keep our members fully up to speed. The level of influence AMI have behind the scenes in relation to this and also the continuing challenges from Europe should not be underestimated.”

“We are keen to offer whatever support we can in helping AMI grow and prosper. We will provide regular updates to our 2,700 members on the key issues that affect them.”

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of AMI, says: “The growing influence of AMI is reflected in the regular addition of new firms who support our endeavours. The addition of SimplyBiz Mortgages to the fold brings opportunity and indicates the direction of travel for the industry. As MMR beckons, we are looking to transform the industry into the mortgage advice profession, and firms such as SimplyBiz will assist in moving all firms in that direction. ”

ENDS

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