Bather meets the Board

Grant Bather

June 10, 2006

Jayne Owen is chief executive at the Corporate Training Partnerships Ltd. Having been involved in the financial sector for most of her life, she was seconded on to the AMI Board following her work with the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and Advisers (NAMBA).“I was involved with regulation before its introduction, as part of NAMBA and was contacted because I have a strong background and knowledge of regulation and its impact,” she says. “AMI wanted someone with a knowledge of regulation, prior to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulating the mortgage market.”

Primary responsibilities

With no set constituency to act on behalf of, much of Owen’s time is spent with the Training and Competence (T&C) requirements the FSA has set. She says AMI has worked hard to help members in this area. “My primary responsibility is T&C and AMI makes sense of all the information that it gets in, making it concise and easy to understand. AMI quickly realised the impact regulation would have and the organisation has helped intermediaries adapt to the changes. People don’t know what they don’t know and AMI helped intermediaries to make sense of the changes through its website and newsletters, as well as regular meetings with its members.”

Having no constituency responsibility means Owen is able to offer a different approach to the mortgage market. “The Board is a diverse group of people and represents the whole mortgage market, which is good. My background is in regulation and I can see things from the FSA’s point of view as well. My main area is T&C, and I can see, in some circumstances, why the regulator does what it does.”

The future

Home Information Packs (HIPs) are firmly on the mortgage market agenda, and Owen admits this will play a major part over the next 12 months. However, she argues AMI will have other responsibilities and will be looking at other areas over the next year. She says: “HIPs, in theory, are a good idea, as moving house can be difficult. However, the Scottish system seems like a good system. There seems to a bit of industry doom and gloom on the area of HIPs and I don’t think anyone has systems in place for a smooth transition.

“Focusing on FSA visits will be another issue, both commercially and regulatory for firms in the mortgage industry.”

Owen states the Retail Mediation Activities Returns (RMAR) reporting is another area of concern for intermediaries, and also for the FSA. Following concerns over its validity, with brokers calling for a greater period of time between RMAR reports, Owen admits they remain an issue: “RMAR reporting is not only an issue for AMI’s membership, but also for the FSA.”

Owen adds the continued evolving of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ (TCF) rulings will be a concern for some intermediaries, but admits her support for the FSA’s course of action to eradicate bad practice. “It will be interesting to see how TCF rules develop in terms of how responsibilities are shared out. The industry has completely changed and, from a personal viewpoint, the FSA’s approach is a good one because it makes firms look at the delivery of its products from a customers’ point of view.”

However, she believes the introduction of further management training would help the industry. She says: “Mortgage advisers are very good at giving advice. However, many start up as one, or two-man small firms and then, as they get bigger, they recruit. What they have never had is any management training. AMI would encourage good practice and would look for individual institutes and firms to up-skill. It is definitely an issue.”

AMI Membership

With AMI representing over 17,000 members across the market, Owen admits non-members feel the benefits, but says this should not stop AMI from making decisions that help improve the way intermediaries work. “There is no way AMI would not go through with something just because it also affects and aids non-members.”

She further urges non-member brokers to ‘get out of the dark’ and realise the benefits AMI members enjoy. She says: “Stop guessing what the industry is doing and where it is going. AMI provides factsheets, guidance and help to its members. AMI will only work if it has feedback from its members and continues to help them.”

Concluding, Jayne Owen praises AMI and the evolution of the trade body since its early inception. She explains: “To grow so quickly is a fantastic achievement. The link we have with the regulator is a huge advantage and benefit, and we are not only reactive to industry matters, we are proactive.”

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