A group representing mortgage brokers has complained to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that lenders are increasingly offering new deals only to customers who go to them direct.
Last week, the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) wrote to the FSA stating that the lenders' tactics were bad for consumer choice and calling for intervention.
However, they were given short shrift by the City regulator, which said that whether or not mortgage lenders took business from brokers was purely a "commercial decision" and not an example failing to treat customers fairly.
In recent weeks, a pattern has emerged of lenders appealing over the heads of brokers – which account for around half their new business – and straight to consumers. This has two advantages for the lenders: they do not have to pay any commission and they can exert more control over who they lend to.
This last point is particularly important for lenders, which are becoming far more cautious about borrowing applications in the light of the credit crunch and a growing tide of bad debt. Recently, and for the first time, Nationwide building society launched a range of products that are only available to customers who have gone to it direct rather than through a broker.