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The arrival of the Senior Persons regime for the wider mortgage market is a positive step forward. This delivers a level playing field with our lender partners, a principle that AMI has long argued should be a fundamental in the market. It delivers through a more formal setup, certainty over the existing responsibilities that firms and more particularly the accountabilities their principals have today.

I do not consider that intermediary firms will be challenged by the requirements to allocate specific responsibilities and certify that those who can impact consumers are fit and proper. There is nothing new here. Mortgage intermediary firms, since the crisis, have been exercising increasing diligence on both recruitment and regular vetting of their advisory staff. At AMI we have been reminding firms that the firm principal and owner carries significant regulatory responsibility over both who they employ and how those employees behave.

In addition to this, all lenders require completed contracts to be in place before a firm is allowed on panel and able to place business. These contracts already impose responsibilities on firms and we have increasingly seen some lenders look in detail at the systems and controls in firms to ensure that their products are sold in a compliant way.

The need to certify might be new but the factors that underlie this are not. As Andrew Bailey, top man at the PRA has been at pains to explain, those who see these changes as an unwelcome imposition of new standards did not understand what their roles and responsibilities are today. As firms who have the customer at the heart of their proposition, the vast majority of mortgage intermediary firms will have nothing to fear.

This announcement firmly puts responsibility with firm principles for who they employ and how they conduct themselves. All parties should now leave firms to run their own businesses and respect this decision by government.

 

Robert Sinclair – November 2015  

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