On Wednesday the 6 November, DLA Piper was delighted to host the UK Finance Annual Mortgage Conference, an event which saw speakers and delegates from across the UK mortgages sector congregate to identify and debate the key issues affecting the industry.
In this respect, we were proud to welcome to our London office a varied range of speakers from the regulatory, lending and academic spheres to join us and share their industry experience.
The keynote address was delivered by Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition and a Board Member of the FCA, who delivered an update on conduct issues in the sector including the latest on the FCA’s thinking on responsible lending and advice. Woolard noted the importance of the mortgage market to the average UK citizen and acknowledged the progress the industry has made since 2008 in addressing the needs of customers. Woolard also highlighted the benefits of the intense competition the FCA is seeing in the sector, such as lower interest rates for consumers, specifically those in the later life lending stage and encouraged the industry to continue to be flexible and innovative to the needs of those taking out later life borrowing and supportive to vulnerable customers seeking to switch products.
Martin Bartlam, DLA Piper’s Head of Finance, Projects and Restructuring had the pleasure of chairing a panel on the LIBOR to SONIA transition with Doug Laurie (Barclays Programme Lead on Wholesale Lending Technology and Change), Alex Maddox (Kensington Mortgages Capital Markets and Digital Director), Jackie Bennett OBE (UK Finance’s Director of Mortgages) and Edwin Schooling-Latter (the FCA’s Director of Markets and Wholesale Policy). The panel discussed some of the practical challenges mortgage lenders face in transitioning to the new regime, the operational challenges of the transition, as well as the FCA’s expectations around the treatment of customers moving to SONIA or other risk-free rates. The main takeaway from the entire panel was that there is much work to be done in the industry before LIBOR is discontinued in December 2021.
DLA Piper’s Head of European Regulatory, Michael McKee, delivered a separate speech on the key regulatory issues which will be impacting the market in 2020. Topics covered by Michael McKee included:
- the FCA seeking to drive competition in the mortgage sector through implementation of the recommendations of the Mortgage Market Review and Mortgages Market Study;
- changes to the FCA’s mortgage advice rules and selling standards for execution-only sales;
- policymakers’ efforts in helping customers on reversion rates in closed books;
- changes to mortgage reporting requirements; and
- ongoing reform efforts by the Law Commission in the leasehold and commonhold markets.
The event also saw a range of other subjects under discussion. This included panel discussions on overcoming customer inertia with switching products and the challenges with housing supply in the UK. Fionnuala Earley, a housing economist, provided an analysis of macroeconomic trends in the mortgage market, highlighting the potential implications to the sector of various Brexit outcomes, UK interest rate forecasts, consumer confidence and falling real wages. Dr Rhian-Marie Thomas OBE, CEO of the Green Finance Institute, provided a state overview of the impact of climate change on the housing market. In particular, the drastic impact increased flooding propensity could have on the mortgage and insurance sectors.
DLA Piper would like to thank all of the delegates and speakers for taking time out of their schedules to attend the event and expresses its gratitude to UK Finance for once again organising such a successful conference.