As 2019 draws to a close, the Financial Reporter team have been reflecting on what has been both an exciting and turbulent 12 months for the industry.
2019 saw a raft of smaller lenders exit the mortgage market, the UK avoid a recession despite growth falling to a 10-year low, and homebuyer figures remain strong in the face of Brexit uncertainty.
This year has also seen plenty of development for us, including an expanded events calendar, our second annual Women's Recognition Awards, and a new commitment to ensure gender equality within our reporting.
With all of this in mind, here are our biggest Christmas wishes for 2020 (providing we've made the Nice List!).
1. Housing market stability
Ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the impending Election undoubtedly stifled supply, demand and house prices throughout 2019. In 2020, a majority government and a potential Brexit deal could boost housing optimism and help to get the market moving.
2. More help for mortgage prisoners
2019 saw the FCA introduce new mortgage prisoner rules on lenders by changing how lenders assess whether a customer can afford the new loan, however the news received a lukewarm reception from the industry. An All-Party Parliamentary Group on mortgage prisoners said that the regulator's proposals "will not help everyone and many mortgage prisoners will remain trapped with their existing lender", while IMLA urged the FCA to "avoid raising borrowers’ expectations unrealistically". There has been growing calls for the Government to introduce legislation regarding ‘zombie lenders’ and the onward sale of mortgage books, so this could be something to watch out for in 2020.
3. Pensions certainty
The Queen's Speech reintroduced Guy Opperman’s Pensions Bill which ran out of time at the end of the last parliament. The Bill will strengthen protections for occupational scheme members, pave the way for pensions dashboards to be developed and open up the option of a new type of shared-risk pension scheme. We hope the Pensions Bill will ensure the Government’s commitment to bringing these changes into law as soon as possible and spark further innovation in the pensions market.
4. Increased gender parity within financial services
We’re huge proponents of the work being done in financial services to increase gender equality - and we’ve been working hard to raise awareness of the issue, from exploring flexible working in our Women in Finance feature series, to committing to improving the gender balance in our reporting, to holding our 2019 Women’s Recognition Awards and recognising the best and most influential women in our industry. We’ll continue our work in 2020 - and we hope the rest of the industry does the same.
5. A great year for advisers
There are lots of uncertainties going into a new year - and never more so than now, as our industry (not to mention our economy) is affected by what happens around us. We sincerely hope that our Financial Reporter readers and the wider intermediary community have a prosperous, busy and rewarding 2020 and that consumers continue to benefit from the irreplaceable work done by advisers. And, of course, that Santa brings you everything you wish for…!