CML lays out radical panel management plans

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has informed the Law Society that some lenders will be writing to panel firms this month to inform them of plans to move to a single supplier of panel management data.

The CML confirms Lender Exchange is likely to launch in early 2014, a single panel management data and application process which will be owned and operated by Decision First.

The technical platform will collect and validate all data from conveyancing firms and make this information accessible by all participating lenders.

Each participating lender will then make its own individual panel management decisions based on that information. Fees will be payable to Decision First, on a tiered basis according to the number of partners.

Payment of the fee will not guarantee that an applicant firm is admitted to any of the participating lenders’ panel.

The Law Society said that they see the merits in a process that avoids duplication and the payment of multiple fees by members to individual lenders. However they have several concerns relating to Lender Exchange. These include; – the potential for Decision First to control the dynamics and cost of the conveyancing market

– the lack of detailed information to date about the transparency of the lenders’ decision making process and the objective criteria against which firms will be measured. 

– the impact on existing panel firms who will need to reapply and pay a fee

– whether there will be an appeals process at all stages of the application

– the possible detriment to consumer choice and cost

– the commercial use of firms’ data

– the potential to grant a private, for- profit company dominant pricing power

They said that they had reiterated their previous offer to provide this data service free to lenders, but that it had been rejected in favour of the Lender Exchange commercially driven solution.

The Law Society has asked the CML for further information and clarification and sight of the Decision First application form and the terms and conditions you will be expected to sign up to.

They have promised to pass this on as soon as it is available.

What do you think of Decision First? Do you think this will be a good thing for conveyancing? Or do you think it will lead to an even more polarised view of panel management?

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