Is A Financial Adviser The Same As A Mortgage Adviser?

In the UK there are a number of qualifications that enable an individual to provide financial advice to you. When getting a mortgage, you may be uncertain about who to approach or what qualifications an adviser needs to have.

To give mortgage advice in the UK you will need to have passed all three Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) exams or the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) equivalent Certificate in Mortgage Advice qualification.

A financial adviser might not necessarily have the last two modules of the CeMAP – so let’s explain the difference between a financial adviser and mortgage adviser and which is best placed to help you.

 

What do Financial Advisers do?

Financial advisers give personal financial advice. The advice normally encompasses financial products such as;

  • Investments
  • Pensions
  • Borrowing
  • Insurance
  • General money management

You will notice that mortgages aren’t normally part and parcel of a financial adviser’s repertoire.

To become a financial adviser in the UK you need to have at minimum a qualification known as the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA). By having the DipFA qualification you have also passed the requirement for the first module of mortgage advice (CeMAP module 1).

If a financial adviser wants to give mortgage advice however, they will still need to pass CeMAP module 2 and 3 or the equivalent CII qualification. Some financial advisers opt not to take the additional qualification, preferring instead to focus on the products mentioned above.

Simply put, a financial adviser may or may not be qualified to give mortgage advice and if you approach one for mortgage help you should ensure they hold the CeMAP or CII equivalent qualification.

What do Mortgage Advisers do?

On the other side of the coin are mortgage advisers. These are individuals who hold the CeMAP qualification and usually don’t hold DipFA. You will occasionally find mortgage advisers that also hold DipFA, but in general, a mortgage adviser specialises in arranging mortgages and mortgage related products.

A mortgage adviser has expertise in:

  • Mortgages
  • Bridging Finance
  • Protection Insurance (Life Insurance)
  • Home Insurance

There are two other qualifications your mortgage adviser may also have in addition to the CeMAP or CII equivalent.

CII

The Chartered Insurance Institute provides a qualification for advisers who want to add the full range of insurance services to their skillset.

A CII qualification is not needed to arrange almost all insurance polices however if someone holds this qualification, they are able to work more extensively in the insurance industry.

CII advisers can;

  • Arrange insurance policies
  • Work for an insurer as an underwriter
  • Claims handling and management

Although this isn’t something you need to be concerned with when looking for a mortgage, it is something your adviser may mention to you as a qualification they hold.

Once again – an adviser DOESN’T need a CII to arrange insurance policies and the qualification is mainly used by individuals who’re interested in policy management behind the scenes such as claims and underwriting.

Equity Release

A financial adviser or mortgage adviser may also have the additional equity release qualification which is known as the Certificate in Equity Release.

This qualification allows anyone holding a CeMAP qualification the ability to also offer equity release products. Equity release is tightly regulated and there are special considerations when giving equity release advice that go above and beyond standard mortgage advice.

If you’re looking for an equity release product you MUST ensure your adviser has the Certificate in Equity Release from either the London Institute of Banking & Finance or CII.

 

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How Are Advisers Regulated?

Financial advice in the UK is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with a few niche exceptions.

In order to provide advice or arrange a regulated product an adviser must be registered with the FCA in one of two ways.

Direct Authorisation

It is uncommon for individual financial advisers to be directly authorised by the FCA as it is expensive (the FCA charges a levy).

In most cases direct authorisation is held by firms or financial adviser groups. In rare cases you may find that your financial adviser is directly authorised by the FCA, and this is normally because they want to operate independently of other financial bodies or firms.

Direct authorisation allows financial advisers and mortgage advisers to access the whole market of products that they’re qualified to advise about and arrange.

You can check online if your adviser is directly authorised by searching for their name or company name on the FCA register.

Approved Agents

An approved agent will be an individual (or in rare cases a company) that has FCA authorisation under someone else’s direct authorisation.

This is a common practice across the insurance and mortgage industry. Typically, a mortgage network will hold the direct authorisation with the FCA, and an individual will apply to the mortgage network  to become an approved agent.

In return the agent must adhere to the mortgage network’s guidelines and compliance checks. Mortgage networks normally place limitations on a mortgage adviser if they don’t have a whole of market panel of lenders (more on this further down).

When giving advice about a financial product an adviser must tell you how they’re authorised (whether directly or not) and they must tell you what restrictions they have such as not being able to search the whole of market for products.

Commercial Products and Regulation

In commercial circumstances such as some business mortgages or commercial insurance policies such as fleet insurance your adviser might mention that the product is unregulated.

This is because the FCA is a body concerned with protecting non-commercial consumers. The nature of most commercial products is that they have structures that differ significantly from traditional consumer financial products.

A good example to put this into perspective is bridging loans. A bridging loan can be regulated if it is secured against property that the borrower (or immediate family) is using or intends to use in the future.

If a bridging loan doesn’t meet this criteria, then it will be an unregulated product.

The adviser doesn’t need to make you aware if a product is unregulated, but they MUST make you aware if you’re receiving advice on a regulated product.

If you’re seeking financial advice about a commercial product and you’re unsure whether or not, you have regulatory protections you should ask your adviser who will be able to explain this in more detail.

 

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Whole of Market Vs Limited Panel Advisers

The last area to be aware of when approaching an adviser for a mortgage is whether they’re a whole of market adviser or if they only have access to a limited panel (select panel).

Whole of Market Advisers

A whole of market adviser is a bit of a misnomer as they won’t necessarily be able to access every single lender in the UK market. The term whole of market means they have access to a range of lenders across each aspect of the UK mortgage market.

For example, a whole of market broker might have a select panel of lenders for each mortgage product type.

This can be confusing if you’re looking for truly independent advice and want to know you’re being offered a broad enough range of options. It is a good idea to ask your adviser how many lenders they have on their panel to gauge how much access they actually have across the market. For example, a truly whole of market broker with full coverage of the market would have access to over 90 lenders in the U.K.

Limited Panel Advisers

Limited or select panel advisers won’t have access to lenders that encompass every aspect of the UK mortgage market. For example, they may not be able to arrange bridging finance if they have no lenders on their panel that offer that.

In the majority of cases, select panel advisers are members of mortgage networks who have special arrangements with select lenders. In rarer cases an adviser may be tied to a handful (or even a single lender).

For example, if you speak to a bank’s in branch mortgage adviser, they will hold the CeMAP qualification or CII equivalent, but they will be sole-tied to the bank they work for and only offer products from that lender.

 

Benefits of Using a Mortgage Adviser over a Financial Adviser

There are 3 main advantages of using a mortgage adviser over a financial adviser to arrange your mortgage.

Cost – Most financial advisers will charge upfront for a consultation. Some financial advisers in the UK charge hefty fees.

You could find your costs adding up significantly just for an initial consultation with a financial adviser.

You will find some mortgage brokers also charge fees for advice. Comparatively the fees tend to be higher for a financial adviser than a mortgage broker.

Boon Brokers offers all advice for FREE with no obligation to arrange a mortgage product through us. We believe our clients should be able to receive the advice they need without paying potentially costly advice fees. We can also arrange your mortgage for you, free of charge.

Lender Panels – The majority of financial advisers in the UK are one-man bands and as a result they tend to either subscribe to the above-mentioned mortgage networks or only place business with select lenders.

Using a truly whole of market mortgage broker or adviser can give you a wider range of lenders and products to choose from.

Boon Brokers is a truly whole of market mortgage broker with access to over 90 lenders in the U.K.

Expertise – It is fair to say that a financial adviser will not be dealing with mortgages on a daily basis, especially when you consider the large range of other products they provide advice on.

Mortgages are not always easy products to arrange and there can be many complications that an inexperienced financial adviser might encounter compared to a mortgage adviser who deals with mortgage applications day in – day out.

Boon Brokers specialises in mortgage products, and we arrange mortgages for our clients on a daily basis.

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Free consultations are offered in the UK.

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Can A Financial Adviser Arrange My Mortgage?

Some can, some can’t. Many financial advisers obtain the DipFA qualification to give investment and pension advice.

As a result, there are plenty of financial advisers with DipFA that don’t have the CeMAP or CII equivalent qualification (required for mortgages).

First and foremost, you should check whether they’re qualified and authorised to provide mortgage advice.

If they are authorised, you should also ask the following questions and potentially compare their service with a mortgage adviser.

  1. Do you have whole of market access to lenders?
  2. What fees do you charge for mortgage advice and applications?
  3. How many mortgages do you arrange on average each week?

This will help you ascertain whether your financial adviser has access to a wide range of mortgage products, how much they cost and whether they actually have the experience and expertise needed to arrange your mortgage with the most suitable lender

It is worth remembering that having a qualification to arrange a mortgage and actually dealing with the intricacies of arranging and advising about mortgages are two very different things. Like learning to drive, once you have passed your test, you learn a lot more through the actual experience of driving.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Financial Adviser When Buying a Home?

Like a good mortgage adviser, a financial adviser can give you advice about your income and expenditure as well as how to save and document your deposit.

Financial advisers will also have an added advantage in this respect as they can give investment advice that could make achieving your desired deposit amount easier. A mortgage adviser CAN’T give investment advice unless they hold the DipFA qualification.

Investment advice often also incurs an advice fee, so it is worth considering whether this is needed for your mortgage application.

In the first instance, call Boon Brokers and discuss your situation and mortgage goals. We offer FREE independent mortgage advice and we’re sure our expertise can help you today!