Robin Hood was famous for robbing the rich to give to the poor and – given some of the reaction to the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) – you could be forgiven for thinking that high net-worth clients were attempting the reverse. The attitude in some quarters seems to be that it is a case of one set of rules for one and a different set for another, or that is unfair that richer borrowers should now be exempt from the legislation and criteria facing typical loan seekers. However, taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach benefits no-one and surely the main point of regulation is to protect the best interests of each individual client?
Aside from the paper providing a widely predicted focus on the overall notion of Treating Customers Fairly and trying to hardwire a more conservative but common sense approach to all areas of lending came 2 fantastic developments for HNW’s and entrepreneurs alike. Firstly Entrepreneurs (business people borrowing against their homes) would enjoy far more flexible criteria and even be able to ‘opt-out’ of standard affordability and criteria tests proving they could provide a credible business plan. Being one myself I’m a huge supporter of any plans to help wealth creation for business owners but the devil will be in the detail here as if banks aren’t willing to play ball on rates or loan to values, more traditional alternative funding routes used by entrepreneurs may still be the quickest and simplest option.
Secondly, High Net Worth individuals, those earning upwards of £300,000pa or that have a net asset base of £3,000,000 or greater can also enjoy a greater degree of flexibility and be able to opt-out of standard criteria tests. I’m delighted with the exemption for HNW borrowers. It’s like trying to bang a square peg into a round hole where HNW clients are concerned due to the complexity of income or in many cases where income is irregular but personal or family wealth is vast so standard affordability checks are pointless as the risk to the bank is minuscule.
All things considered, the MMR’s willingness to show a degree of flexibility for HNW individuals must surely be welcomed by all. We obviously don’t want to see a return to the days of easy credit before the global financial crisis which was one of the main reasons for the economic predicament we now find ourselves in, but sensible lending doesn’t have to mean box-ticking and to hell with anyone who doesn’t fit the profile. This is fantastic news for our clients and the HNW mortgage sector as a whole and finally, a common-sense approach in a market that has lacked just that for too long.