Regionally-based lenders which provide mortgages to just part of the UK add an extra dimension to the mortgage market, providing intermediaries with both a sense of regional identity and, in many cases, not only some competitive deals but also products and criteria that reflect and trade on the characteristics of the region. Inevitably, they don't go overboard on intermediary-facing material because they don't need to. The watchwords here for designing broker information are focus and simplicity. And that's true of the two lenders in this week's review – Principality and Scottish building societies. If you have any comments on the lender material you use, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principality doesn't have a wide reach, concentrating on Wales and the western side of England. But it still sources a good proportion of its mortgage business through intermediaries and like many a lender is concerned about maintaining distribution after Mortgage Day. At the moment it doesn't have much by way of intermediary-facing material – just a product guide – but it takes the intermediary market seriously and has embarked on a research project to find out what its intermediaries think of the company. Gladdens an old marketer's heart to see research going on. Likes and dislikes are included in the questionnaire, along with how electronic trading services are used. Information on e-trading is important to Principality as an intermediary website is under consideration. As to the product guide, it has all the product details on one side of A4 in an unfussy layout which is easy to follow. On the back are some basic lending criteria plus general information. This is all very comfortable – you feel it does exactly what it says on the tin. If your clients need more detailed information, then the consumer-facing material works fine. Mind you, it looks as though the designer had a new paintbox for this, just too many colours for my taste.
Like the Principality, the Scottish is regionally focussed, lending just in Scotland and the very northern English counties. It delivers all its intermediary material by email and, given that it understands that brokers don't want to waste time and ink printing off reams of colour-intense leaflets, it's all in black and white. The product guide covers three sides of A4 and is a much more complex affair than the Principality's. I hadn't realised, for example, until the guide turned up in my inbox that the Scottish had a penchant for mortgages on guest houses and professional practices, in addition to the more usual residential and buy-to-let products. As it's purely in mono, the guide's unfussy to the point of being plain but I suppose that's no bad thing in the circumstances. The product information is all there and well laid out, with the lending criteria coming in a separate Word document, again in black and white. There's loads of detail here but looking through it there doesn't seem to be anything superfluous. If I had to use it myself, I think I'd know exactly where I stood. Email is also used for news and product updates, as well as promoting special events like their involvement in a homebuilding and renovating show.