Mortgage brokers dismayed, angered after dismissive comments from BBC personal finance program's host
Brokers have responded with dismay to comments from the presenter of Money Box on BBC Radio 4, Paul Lewis, calling some of his advice “ridiculous and out of date.”
In an interview published by the i last week, Lewis said of mortgage refinancing: “the way to get the best possible deal is to go to one of the big, national, independent mortgage brokers – don’t find a mortgage broker over the local cab [kebab] shop in the high street.”
“How ridiculous and out of date is this advice,” said Lynette Webb (pictured), director of Mortgage Saving Experts. “Some small independents have been in the industry for over 20 to 30 years, with a wealth of knowledge and expertise.”
For mortgage brokers, reputation is vital
Webb said Lewis is talking about something he has no knowledge or qualifications to comment on.
“A small independent will probably have their name over the door and that name is their reputation, they will go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service, as their reputation is on the line,” she added.
Webb questioned how a broker from a big national firm would be any better than a broker from a small independent brokerage.
“It is a shame that Lewis implies brokers working for a larger national company will have more experience or access to more products, which is totally incorrect,” she added.
Webb said big nationals often have a restricted panel of lenders they can use, so their advice would be limited.
“Having worked for one of the large nationals when I first started my career, and now being a director of an independent company, this sort of comment will sow doubts in the minds of Money Box listeners, and could affect many smaller businesses trying to survive at present,” she said.
‘Never apologise, never explain’
In response to brokers’ dismay, Lewis was quoted in The Financial Reporter as saying, “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 will do both.”
Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services, said: “It is such a shame that this is the route Lewis has decided to go down in his response.”
Taylor-Barr believes it shows a deep lack of understanding of the mortgage market’s structure.
He added that many of the small businesses he disparages are supported and backed by large national networks, which often dwarf the scale of the national brokers Lewis advised people to use.
So, if scale is the best indicator of quality, Taylor-Barr said 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,” he said.
Taylor-Barr added that customers should look for businesses, or more importantly individual advisers, with consistently high scores over a long period.
‘Arrogant and dismissive’
Sabrina Hall, mortgage adviser and protection adviser at Kind Financial Services, believes Lewis’ response exposes his lack of understanding of the industry even more than the original comment.
“Lewis’ 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 had agreed,” Hall said.
Hall added that Lewis has given incorrect information that could impact small businesses that have worked hard to build up their business over time.
“I find the arrogant and dismissive tone of the response so frustrating; someone with a platform and audience that he has should know what they are talking about before making comments,” Hall said.
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