Building a better body

On May 2, the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) and the Corporation of Finance Brokers (CFB) formed a strategic alliance, which will result in the CFB being wound-up and re-inventing itself as the Association of Finance Brokers (AFB).

If your reaction to this development is ‘big deal’ you would be absolutely right – because it is. Loan brokers now have an effective trade body, whose sole purpose is to represent their interests and lobby on their behalf.

This development could not have been more timely, as recent coverage about single premium payment protection insurance (PPI) and the need to regulate secured loans has highlighted just how much brokers need to make their voices heard. Freedom Finance will be giving the AFB its full support and urges all loan brokers, whether existing members of the CFB or not, to do likewise.

A consequence of this development is that the Finance Industry Standards Association (FISA) now needs to redefine its future role. FISA, unlike the AFB, is not a trade body. It is a trading standards organisation, which is controlled by lenders. However, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and a more active Office of Fair Trading (OFT) now perform this important role and FISA should, therefore, refocus its activities to represent the interests of secured loan lenders, in the same way that the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) represents the interest of intermediary mortgage lenders.

Assuming the formation of the AFB is approved at an EGM on May 25, Freedom Finance will resign its membership of FISA in order to throw its weight behind the AFB. FISA has played an important role in the past, but it is now time for loan brokers to look to the future and support a trade body which has their interests at heart.

Establishing a new trade body is no easy task – ask Chris Cummings. The AFB deserves the full support of every loan broker in the UK. If you don’t take this opportunity to make your voice heard, you can’t complain if future industry developments don’t swing in your favour.

Tony Machin

Group managing director

Freedom Finance