Internet Insite

Mortgage Strategy\'s weekly guide to what\'s hot and what\'s not on the web. Kevin Paterson takes a look at lender websites, working his way from A to Z

Chalk and cheese, this week. The chalk is provided by Halifax Intermediaries which, as part of HBOS group, dominates the broker online market with leading edge functionality.

The cheese is a mutual with big aspirations but very little idea. The Hanley has a competitive range of products which would in any other arena promote it to the Premier League, but unfortunately its parochial approach and non-existent broker links keep it firmly in the Conference. By contrast, The Harpenden seems to want to be in the broker marketbut pays only lip service to the needs of intermediaries and this, sadly, will prove a block toit’s opening up the sector.

Halifax Intermediaries
Widely regarded as the grandfather of pure broker online systems, the Halifax Intermediaries site is still one of the best. The system, operating both offline and online, was designed to provide maximum flexibility and, unlike the Abbey system, doesn’t close at 10pm. The simplicity of layout belies the functionality and content of the site and as a result it is easy to navigate. One minor irritation is the lack of help if you are unfamiliar with the system, especially when you key in something wrongly. I am also unconvinced about the speed with which the tracking system is updated, but this is a problem shared by most online systems trying to minimise phone traffic by providing tracking. Once you’re familiar with the system, it’s easy, efficient and reliable.

Hanley Economic
This website is ordered and detailed – almost to the extent of being too fussy. But The Hanley appears to have no aspirations beyond Stoke-on-Trent. It is obviously looking for brownie points with the Financial Services Authority as Treating Customers Fairly has it’s own link on the homepage, which is listed as TCF – something I’m sure its customers will recognise instantly. But its rates surprisingly punch above their weight, particularly its competitive fixed rates. But disappointingly there is nothing to indicate a broker-friendly environment, with limited functionality and interactive facilities available. This website has a few good products on view, but provides little incentive for brokers to use them.

This is a relatively young building society – 50 years old – with three branches. Its website design is simple and clean, featuring a lot of white space. It has limited functionality and little information is available on any of the products without being directed to a phone number. The termKey Facts Illustration is conspicuous by its absence and the intermediary page is just that – a single page. This is obviously a small mutual with a desire to play in the big league and make it’s products available across the broker market but while it provides little more than a brochure site it is unlikely this aspiration will be realised any time soon. When it comes to a website offering for mortgage advisers, it must try harder.33,614 registered users can’t be wrong