| 18°C Dublin

Give our brokers a chance

Madam -- In the Sunday Independent (September 9), James Fitzsimons, an accountant, claimed "the Government has got it right" when deciding to confine the mortgage 'advice' scheme for mortgage holders in difficulty to accountants.

He also claims the scheme is "forcing banks to come up with viable alternatives for customers with impaired home loans". The fact of the matter is the scheme is very weak in that it puts lenders in the dominant position, acting as 'givers', while borrowers are 'takers' of whatever the bank decides to offer.

In confining the scheme to accountants, the minister has chosen to have the State interfere in the market, giving an unfair competitive advantage to one type of financial advisor over another.

In support of the case for exclusivity by accountants, Mr Fitzsimons states: "I don't sell mortgages... and I don't profit from conveyancing or selling people's homes." What he did not say, however, was that his profession profited from auditing the banks, including Anglo Irish Bank.

My organisation, PIBA, is a not-for-profit association representing over 870 financial broker member firms, primarily SMEs. The State is excluding them, and many like them, from playing a role they are already undertaking, are specifically qualified to do and are regulated by the Central Bank in doing.

Is it as simple as civil servants being ignorant of the realities of the market place or is there something more cynical going on? Could it be that the banks want someone to rubber-stamp their own offers rather than have an advisor who would challenge for a better deal for mortgage holders?

When the detail of the Personal Insolvency Service emerges, it is then that we will know whether or not the banks and their advisors have staged yet another coup.

Rachel Doyle,

Chief Operations Officer, PIBA (Professional Insurance Brokers Association)

Sunday Independent