“The devil is in the detail” – Brokers warn of potentially misleading mortgage advice published by BBC

Brokers have shared their thoughts regarding a piece of mortgage-related content posted by the BBC with the aim of providing readers with three “ways to save money on [their] mortgage.”

The post suggested that borrowers may be able to tackle rising cost-of-living pressures by making overpayments on their mortgage, extending their mortgage term, or switching to an interest-only deal.

In light of this, some brokers have warned of the dangers of free online advice – with one referring to the post as “absolute drivel,” while another said it constituted “dangerous advice.”

Some suggested that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), under the new Consumer Duty regime, should clamp down on the people writing such advice, and “let regulated experts write regulated articles in the press.”

The Intermediary reached out to the BBC for comment prior to publication.


Emma Jones, managing director at Whenthebanksaysno.co.uk:

“This is dangerous advice and contains points that don’t actually save people money at all.

“Firstly, switching to interest-only means your balance never reduces which, if the journalist in question was qualified to give advice would know, means you pay more interest.

“Meanwhile, extending the term not only results in costing you more money in interest, it can sometimes mean you’re paying your mortgage off well into retirement.

“Speak with a qualified specialist.”

Luke Thompson, director at PAB Wealth Management:

“This is absolute drivel from ‘the Beeb’. Firstly, making overpayments is great but to give no context of how much you need to overpay by could give a false impression.

“I look forward to a follow-up article explaining how to change to an interest-only mortgage and the potential implications this could have for you in the future.

“As for extending the term of your mortgage, that is dependent on the lender as well as being age dependent. That’s a great piece of advice for someone in their 50s or 60s.

“Major news outlets spouting this kind of rubbish is exactly what people don’t need at the minute.

“All it does is give people unrealistic ideas of what may be achievable when their mortgage is due for renewal.

“I get that the BBC’s heart is in the right place but if they are going to put information like this on their website, their head needs to be, too.

“They should speak to someone who actually understands how mortgages work.”

Justin Moy, managing director at EHF Mortgages:

This is another example of poorly worded journalism that can lead borrowers to the wrong actions.

“Yes, they will help reduce monthly payments in the short term, but switching to interest-only and extending the term will cause a greater cost to the mortgage overall.

“Surely the FCA under its Consumer Duty banner needs to take an interest in poor articles that borrowers will assume is good advice from a trusted source, namely the BBC.

“Let regulated experts write regulated articles in the press.”

Craig Fish, director at Lodestone Mortgages & Protection:

“Honestly, this type of article is so misleading.

“Do the BBC genuinely not proof read what they are publishing, or validate it with professionals?

“The British public deserve better. Financial Conduct Authority: where are you?”

Ranald Mitchell, director at Charwin Private Clients:

“This is poor from the BBC. The article, while designed to help struggling and worried consumers, is far from useful and lacks any depth or reality.

“Given that the BBC is a trusted source of information for millions of people, surely working with reputable, qualified brokers would enhance the quality of their reporting, providing their audience with a clearer insight into what’s really going on in today’s market?”

Stephen Perkins, managing director at Yellow Brick Mortgages:

“This is disappointing given the usual rigorous nature of the BBC.

“While the suggestions may reduce the monthly payment on a mortgage, they certainly don’t save money on the mortgage as they will cost more in the long term.

“It’s another great example of why articles like these, which could be construed as advice, should be left to qualified individuals who actually understand the subject matter.

“They should replace the entire list with: ‘Speak to a mortgage broker about your circumstances for personalised advice.”

Peter Stamford, director and mortgage expert at Moor Mortgages:

“This is unfortunate summarising. If you click on ‘Read More Here’, you are taken to the full article, from August, which explains the negatives around each of these suggestions.

“BBC editors should look at this summarisation and rework it. In isolation, and without context, language can be misleading.”

Samuel Mather-Holgate, independent financial adviser at Mather and Murray Financial:

“Not only is this written by someone with no relevant qualifications, but mortgage brokers’ websites have to be plastered with risk warnings to ensure customers don’t act on advice not personalised to them.

“I see no such disclaimers presented by the Beeb. An omnishambles.”

Graham Cox, founder at Self-Employed Mortgage Broker SEMH:

“The Beeb have dropped the ball here, conflating reducing monthly mortgage payments with saving money.

“Extending the term and moving onto interest-only will do the former, but will be far more expensive in the long run because of all the extra interest the borrower will pay.

“The FCA probably need to provide guidance to ensure media organisations don’t publish misleading ‘advice’ that the unwary treat as gospel.”

Simon Bridgland, broker and director at Release Freedom:

“The devil is in the detail. In mortgage terms, it’s pretty much sensationalist headlines.

“They will certainly grab the attention of those who feel these would be the answer they are searching for, especially those who have run out of time on the mortgage term or deal and are faced with a mammoth increase in payments or the lender banging on the door for full repayment and threatening repossession.

“I know for sure it wouldn’t pass muster with a compliance team if being used as an advertisement, but when all said and done, it is the BBC and this couldn’t be confused as advice by an untrained eye…could it? What do you think?”

Steven Hargreaves, mortgage and protection adviser at The Mortgage Co:

“It is impossible to provide advice without knowing a client’s circumstances, certainly when you advise a client to go onto an interest-only mortgage without the client knowing the full ramifications could be deemed as dangerous.

“There are times as an experienced adviser I would recommend either interest-only or extending the mortgage term, however, I would always know a client’s full financial circumstances.

“I have been talking to many of my existing clients who are due to come off low fixed rates in the next six months, explaining, based on current rates, what their new payments could be.

“To some, I have suggested starting to increase their payments now by overpaying, thus getting ready for the inevitable, other clients with other debts I have recommended increasing payments that have higher interest rates to try and mitigate other unsecured lending. Seek advice from a professional.”

Gareth Davies, director at South Coast Mortgage Services:

“Would this article, in this format, be approved by any network compliance department? In a word, no.

“This once again highlights the danger of articles posted without context and by non-qualified individuals.

“This is stuff that ‘Dave from your local boozer’ spouts and the worry is that it reaches people far and wide.”

Elliott Benson, owner and mortgage broker at Sett Mortgages:

“Why are they saying the typical term is 25 years? Where has this come from? Has this even been penned by an authorised, qualified person?

“This is what happens when someone does a cursory Google search and then spouts a few things they read online.

“People need to sit down with a professional for advice. One size fits all advice like this can be harmful.”