Mark Graves is head of Pink Network
There has long been a debate about whether the quality of business submitted by directly authorised advisers is of a different quality to that of ARs.
In my opinion there is no difference in business quality at all, all advisers are doing the same job in the same way, and if they are doing their job properly, all have the aim to get the best results for their client.
Where there is a discrepancy however is when someone has been struck off from a network.
Usually it is because a particular lender has said that they will not accept business from that adviser any longer due to a discrepancy in past cases.
The adviser therefore no longer has a whole-of-market proposition and therefore cannot stay in the network.
It is very unlikely that another network will then take this person on, so the only option, if they want to remain as a mortgage adviser is to become directly authorised as no client would know that they cannot deal with a particular lender.
There are a couple of things that I have an issue with here.
Firstly, it cannot be right that someone who is not fit to work in one area is able to just set up again under another guise. We need consistency between both DA and AR propositions.
Secondly, it really cannot be fair that if someone has made an error or not applied the attention to detail that they should have, that they can get a life sentence, with no appeal, forever, and that their whole livelihood should be taken away – often without the adviser being given the reason that they are being banned.
We are obviously not talking about fraud here as that is a whole different case, but if someone has submitted a case, that is not as the lender would like it, but which is not fraudulent, how can it be right that they can be struck off and never work again?
There needs to be something that they can do, be it getting more education or working under supervision for a period of time until they meet the required standard.
With both of these cases, is it the responsibility of the FCA, of AMI or of lenders? Surely we all need t o work more closely together to ensure that neither of these cases is possible – that people are not left with a life sentence for a misdemeanour, but similarly they cannot just set up again as a DA with the same level of performance.
Unfortunately it seems that individual registration, while very necessary, is something that our industry is incapable of doing.
My wish list for the next year is that we all become more joined up in our approach.
DAs and ARs are both essential for our industry and nobody should be forced down either one route or another, but we do need a way of making sure that the same standards apply to all, that people do not unduly get life sentences, but if they really have done something wrong that it is not possible for them to reinvent themselves as DAs, thereby tarnishing all in that sector with a brush they don’t deserve.