Regulator accused of being too onerous on lenders as it studies mortgage market

Lenders have warned the regulator about micro-management of the mortgage market.

Speaking at a Council of Mortgage Lenders Scotland lunch, director-general Paul Smee said the Financial Conduct Authority was seeking too much information from banks in its work on studying the mortgage market.

He said: “I appreciate why the FCA feels the need to look at how distribution is working and would rather they did it now when things look benign than in five years when they had concluded that things were going wrong.

“Lenders always knew there would be an onerous request for data, but even we are surprised at how much is being sought.

“In our view, the FCA is asking for far too much information from lenders, far too quickly. I hope they may reflect and refine this to a slightly more proportionate approach. I also hope that they do not get all granular with their report.

“Micro-management of markets even in the name of competition doesn’t usually work. Let’s stick to big themes and where there is palpable detriment.”

Smee also addressed how Brexit may affect the mortgage market.

He said: “Exiting the European Union may affect the industry, but the impact on the housing market may be modest.

“It is not easy to identify specific impacts on the mortgage market. It is a domestic market. There are not particular activities which will become impossible should we leave the single market. We will be asked whether our propensity to lend to EU nationals is affected by Brexit. I am confident in saying that lenders will treat their customers fairly and will avoid unnecessary dislocation to business.”

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