Joining the cold call debate

Jennifer Lowe

June 10, 2006

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) ban on cold-calling has presented many in the mortgage broking community with a problem in generating business. However, it has proven to be someone else’s opportunity.

Three times this year I have received cold-calls to my Telephone Preference Service (TPS) registered office number about my mortgage. In each case I have worked the call up myself and have had three mortgage brokers sitting in my front room, all wanting to talk about shifting me to another lender.

The firm doing the cold-calling used old data – in my case about eight years old. The firms that contacted me did not conform to any recognised guidelines about client contact. For example, they phoned at an unsocial 3:30 on Easter Monday afternoon, and, even when pressed, would not provide a number to ring them back on (1471 would not work). They were also quite prepared to accept my office PO Box number as a domestic address.

It all points to a firm operating from abroad and out of reach of any UK regulator.

The company evidently sells its information through a substantial wholesale network. The three brokers all brought their appointments from different lead companies in this country, which I could name. One quoted me the price he paid, which was £65.

It also clearly lacks a decent QA system. In all, this outfit has attempted to work me up as a cold-call on no less than four occasions. The first visiting broker phoned to confirm that I would not be proceeding with him, and no more than five minutes later, the consultancy firm phoned to start the cold-calling process all over again. I had just finished reading correspondence from our regulator about my second visitor when it came through with the latest call.

It is therefore evident that a lead generation company is taking the Michael (there is a more appropriate word) out of the mortgage broking industry, big style. It is selling expensive, illicitly-generated leads, based on out-of-date data, and working them up again to sell to someone else, and yet a third time to sell to some other mutt. And making substantial sums of money out of mortgage brokers, through something that cannot be done legitimately in this country.

I am told the contract at retail level says it is fully FSA compliant.

However, if you buy leads or appointments – beware. The FSA cannot regulate lead generation firms, but it can take action against brokers. Until this outfit is properly identified and driven out of the business, I suggest that, as a broker, you get a guarantee from a director of your lead supply company that they will personally indemnify you for any losses through FSA-imposed sanctions resulting from complaints about cold-calling. Similarly if you are a lead wholesaler, please be very diligent – ask for a similar indemnity on behalf of your retail customers, and, if the information looks like it originated abroad, reject it.

I am all for business opportunities, but not at my or anyone’s obvious expense. Hopefully we can rid our industry of this blight.

Yours faithfully

Roy Taylor

Lymm Manor Finance Ltd

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