Kepa chief executive Jeff Page emailed the group's mortgage adviser members last Friday telling them their monthly membership fees would be increasing if they didn't refer their risk business to the group.
"Over the last couple of months, we have reviewed the monthly subscription amounts that Kepa Home Loans Advisers are paying to Kepa to administer the Home Loans aggregation business. We have decided that if a member of Kepa Home Loans is not placing their risk business and or risk referrals through Kepa either directly or via a Kepa Risk member, then the monthly subscription will increase to $800.00 per month, plus GST. This change to the monthly subscription will take effect from the 1st August this year".
That is an increase from $250.00 per month, plus gst for a single adviser and for each additional mortgage adviser within a firm Kepa charge $150.00 per month, plus gst. It compares to $500 per month, plus gst, per adviser for NZFSG.
However, the former head of Kepa's Home Loan business, Heather Royle says the increase is more than it appears.
She says a mortgage adviser with one sub-adviser would see their membership fees increase from $400 per month, plus gst to $1600 a month, plus gst - a 400% increase!
For a mortgage-only adviser, who is not registered for gst, they will end up paying $920 a month ($800 plus GST).
She says one of the biggest issues appears to be that Kepa is attempting to change its terms of agreement with mortgage adviser members without consulting them. She says all advisers need to be aware of their contractual relationships, no matter which group they belong to.
Royle says one of the things she noticed whilst at Kepa was that the mortgage adviser membership agreement gave mortgage advisers the right to put insurance business wherever they wanted. In other words Kepa can't force its mortgage adviser members to refer risk business to Kepa, unless of course they change their agreements.
"If they are allowed to do this they are being allowed to break the contract," she says.
Good Returns approached Page, however he chose to make no comment on the changes.
One wonders whether this arbitrary change by Kepa to their mortgage adviser membership costs and contracts will unsettle Kepa Risk Advisers, who provide their main revenue.
David Whyte, who was the former chief executive of Ginger Group before it became part of Kepa, said advisers would decide whether the new fee was worthwhile.
"They are either going to see the value and continue to deal as they are or they are going to go the other way - time will tell. Some advisers might feel hard done by but it is a pretty competitive business. If it's not an earner for hem ad they lose it they haven't really lost anything."
Former TNP boss Darren Pratley, now director of The Home Loan Group, said it was important for mortgage brokers to find a solution that offered them the best support they could find.
"It is vitally important for the mortgage industry to keep adopting insurance as part of its service. Having a good insurance offering as part of what you offer is important from the perspective of supporting the idea that you always have to act in the best interest of their clients. Making sure mortgage brokers have a solution that fits their business is really important."