How Times Have Changed … And Not For The Best

When I first started mortgage broking back in 1997 (yes, over 20-years ago) I enjoyed the way that I could help people. In those days it was about identifying an issue and trying to find a way to resolve it that was of course the best for the client.

Fast forward ….

Now 20+ years later the desire is still the same … to find a way to resolve problems that people have, and resolve it in a way that is best for the client.

But Times Have Changed!

Today advisers have been forced to become expert typists and butt coverers.

As an adviser I would love to think that I have the same care for my clients, and I genuinely try.

I love to share whatever information that I have learned over my 20+ years working for people.

But the biggest frustration is the compliance forced upon us. They (The FMA) say it is to “ensure the conduct and client-care obligations of financial service providers and the regulation of financial markets remain fit for purpose” but I expect that 99% of advisers were already doing that.

It’s not actually the fact that we need to be compliant, but rather the fact that we need to tick so many boxes that it’s hard to keep focused on helping people.

I might be a bit wrong here so I apologise if I am, but I think I am now spending over half my time ticking boxes and filling out forms that actually does nothing to help anyone.

It has gotten totally out of control, and I keep getting told that I need to do better.

We Try Getting Things Right

The new compliance regime has meant we have had to make a huge amount of changes, and while many were quite simple others have been quite challenging.

We have had our compliance people look at our documentation and while they are happy with most of it they have highlighted that some is “difficult to follow” and/or some of the terms are not “client friendly terms” and therefore we should change these.

Of course it is not our intension to make anything unclear and we have asked for alternative words to use, but these have not yet been forthcoming.

It's Not A Level Playing Field

It’s Not A Level Playing Field

I guess it would be different if you could look at the industry and find examples where people are doing things better; hence identifying where we may be doing things not as well. But I have been looking for examples so I can get ideas of how to reword things, and as yet I cannot find a better example.

And then there are the banks!

While advisers are spending hours trying to tick all the right boxes, the banks are having a laugh.

They do what they want and as they don’t give advice they have little compliance enforced upon them.

They are after all just order takers and seem exempt from the poor advice that they give, and we spend a lot of time fixing the problems they create.

As advisers the banks are also our suppliers and that is another story!

The banks are taking forever even to look at anything that we send them, and exceptionally poor at responding and communicating timeframes. But as advisers we need to deal with the banks and have while they still insist we perform to their pre-determined KPI’s they do little to help us.

The banks performance is poor at best, and unfortunately no advisers on their own have enough power to address this with them.

We get responses with “we appreciate you understanding” which is a joke in itself as firstly we don’t appreciate or understand the lack or service and especially when we know that our clients get better treated by the branches.

So What Is The Answer

Unfortunately we are stuck with the box ticking regime for now, and the non-bank sector is still not competitive enough for advisers to cut ties with the banks.

It would be great to think that common sense may prevail; however I am not holding my breath. I expect that the box ticking is here to stay and the only real hope on this front is that there is some actual advisers that loom at what boxed need to be ticked and implement systems to advisers can complete just one form that covers off all the compliance, rather than one for the client and then additional forms for any financiers and then AML as well.

The key thing that most mortgage advisers have remained focused on is helping people and ensuring that they get good advice rather than accepting the banks non-advice or limited advice model.

We know that in the next few years the banks are likely to lose the power that they have, as the open banking takes over in New Zealand.

My hope if that in a few years the banks will understand that that advisers are a good source of business and treat them as a valuable partner.

In addition, it would be good to see the compliance settle down so advisers can again focus on helping people rather than filling forms.

Of course times have changed and they are here to stay … but maybe they need to adjust to be fit for purpose.