Earlier this week, IFA Magazine reported on the reactions of many mortgage brokers to comments made by the well-known financial journalist, Paul Lewis, in The i paper. Free PR platform, Newspage, asked has brokers for their thoughts on his response – and it appears they’re still none too happy!
But firstly, before we share the brokers responses, on 17th January, Paul Lewis issued the following statement by way of his response to them:
“Never apologise, never explain. One of those quotes attributed to many people. And generally good advice when it comes to Twitter or the press. So I’ll do both. The quote in Jessie Hewitson’s excellent piece in The i paper was accurate – though I thought I said kebab shop not ‘cab’ shop – but that is no matter. I have said similar things in several of the interviews I have done. In my book, which Jessie was kindly writing about, I say this
“That is why it is a good idea to go to a broker that is what is called ‘whole of market’. They will look at every one of those 4000 mortgages and find the number one for you. Also, it is better to find a big national chain that is not here today and gone tomorrow. Never ask your bank. They cannot find you the best deal.
“Many of the comments have (a) criticised big national broking firms and (b) praised their own small, excellent, experienced, dedicated local firm.
“All that is understandable. But just as I say always find an independent, chartered financial adviser and admit that excludes some good, restricted advisers and some good IFAs who are not chartered, finding them amongst the rest is impossible. Hence my general advice. Which inevitably excludes some good guys – even those with an office over a kebab shop.
“But you cannot in 34 words, or even 67, list all the good brokers in the country even if I knew who they were. Nor is there any set of rules that people can use to pick the good ones and exclude the bad or the mediocre. But I have to give general rules. Saying ‘find a good local mortgage broker’ is pointless because the next question is ‘how do I know if they are good?’ Like a good plumber or a good builder it is impossible to say. And there is no time in people’s lives for trial and error over a mortgage. So I stick with the big national, whole of market chains who I have found excellent in the past.
“I am sorry if that upsets small local brokers – over kebab or cab shops – who believe they are excellent. And I await the torrent of abuse which I am sure this apology and explanation will bring down. Which is why you should never…etc.”
So, how has this comment from Lewis landed with mortgage brokers? We’ve shared a few of their comments below which indicate that this has not exactly met with their approval!
Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, is clearly disappointed by Lewis’ response as he comes up with some practical suggestions that those seeking mortgage advice can follow:
“It is such a shame that this is the route Paul has decided to go down in his response. It shows a deep lack of understanding of the mortgage market’s structure. Many of the small businesses he disparages are supported and backed by large, national networks, which often dwarf the scale of the large, national brokers he advises people to go to. So, if scale is the best indicator of quality, these businesses must be even better than those he suggests. Of course not, as scale has never been an indicator of quality. If you want to find a good, high-quality mortgage broker then there is a raft of review platforms, for example, VouchedFor, Trust Pilot and Google. Look for businesses, or more importantly individual advisers, with consistently high scores over a prolonged period, then you are going to find a great broker. Simple.”
Kylie Anne Gatecliffe, Director at KAG Financial, is none too impressed by it either as she comments:
“Saying you should only stick with big national chains is like saying only buy your flowers from Tesco, don’t bother with the small florist on the high street. Only get your donuts from Gregg’s, don’t bother with your local baker. It really is not that hard to know a broker is good. A starting point would be looking at their online reviews, as this is what brings in a lot of our clients. Word of mouth is also another huge factor. It really saddens me in this current climate where small businesses are struggling that anyone would ever suggest only using big firms, in any industry not just ours. Thankfully I believe people choose people and the brokers who excel at looking after their clients won’t ever struggle for business, whether they work from their kitchen table, above whatever shop they please or in a larger office.”
Justin Moy, Managing Director at EHF Mortgages, points out that while at least Lewis has responded, his words have impacts on customers across the sector commenting:
“Well, at least Paul has responded to the comments made by many of us. It would have been easy to say nothing and hope it blows over. He may be talking from personal experience, but I think any commentator in the public eye needs to understand that marketplace. How those in our industry construe comments like that, and more importantly what do those words do to our clients: they may start to doubt our advice because we may not be a business with 100 advisers. I would like to think most brokers would praise the great service from lenders in public and the bad service privately, and in the same spirit commentators should embrace the whole mortgage broker population positively, and if there is some point to be made, do so with evidence or keep the view private. Find the right words, as loose lips sink ships, as they say.”
Sabrina Hall, Mortgage and Protection adviser at Kind Financial Services found it ‘arrogant and dismissive’ as she comments:
“The apology exposes his lack of understanding of the industry even more than the original comment. The assumption that smaller advisers are “here today, gone tomorrow” is just factually incorrect. The assumption is that large national firms are better when every adviser I know has examples of clients who have come to them after a national firm has messed up or had a declined application that the smaller independent adviser has subsequently got agreed. I find the arrogant and dismissive tone of the apology so frustrating. He’s given incorrect information that could impact small businesses that have worked hard to build up their business over time. Someone with a platform and audience that he has should know what they are talking about before making comments such as that.”
Lawrence Robbins, Director, A Mortgage Now, also has some practical suggestions as he comments:
“Paul, while smaller mortgage brokers will appreciate some of your clarification here, our experience of the market is very different. We will all have numerous occasions during the year where we are contacted by potential borrowers who have been let down by the large ‘nationals’. Why? Often, due to the business models of national firms, which are only interested in ‘vanilla’ cases and cannot afford to spend time on anything more complex. Many of their advisory staff are relatively inexperienced and do not understand lending options and technical details in the same depth as an experienced mortgage broker. As for how to ‘find a good local mortgage broker’, ‘ it’s not that difficult, a quick check today on Trustpilot will see my own business with a review score of 5.0 against 4.5-4.8 for the well-known nationals.”