Marketing Brief

In my A to Z of lenders&#39 intermediary marketing material I&#39ve arrived at N, with NatWest and Newcastle. Those nice people at NatWest were keen for me to compare their new intermediary packs with the old material so they sent me both. And yes, the new stuff does look better than the old. But I do think that by sticking with the previous design concept of &#39your mortgages cases solved&#39, in which the bank&#39s relationship manager is supposed to be the case-solving detective and also not reviewing the text, NatWest has missed an opportunity to strengthen its intermediary credentials. (Actually, I misread the detective idea to start with, taking it to mean the intermediary. Heigh-ho.) Tell me what you think by emailing me at


Patrick Sullivan of Connect Mortgages pretty much sums it up: “A bank that is trying to break into the broker market. We like that. But it hasn&#39t entered with anything new.” Recognising its dilemma, NatWest has not gone for competing on price but tried to build an intermediary proposition based on service and it&#39s true that in a commodity market like mortgages, service can be a key differentiator. Unfortunately I can&#39t see NatWest winning here either when it puts sentences like this in its support material: “Sometimes you may need an answer in hours rather than days”. If it had put “…seconds rather than minutes” then I think we might start to take it seriously. The material itself – a pack for the main product range and a separate pack for the NatWest One account – has just gone through a revamp and looks a lot better for it with new layouts and colourways. The text sits in plenty of white space – much cleaner and smarter – but some of it reads like a patronising consumer guide rather than matter-of-fact information for professional advisers. There&#39s a new intermediary-dedicated website due to go live in a month or so but there&#39s nothing special here I&#39m afraid – and no online submission yet.


Yes, yes, yes, said the man at Newcastle when I phoned to request copies of its intermediary material. When nothing had turned up five days later I phoned again to be told no, no, no. As the Newcastle tends to deal with only a handful of intermediaries who create their own material using Newcastle information, the man in the North-East preferred that I didn&#39t review it. So stuck with a copy deadline and no material to consider I thought instead I&#39d have a look at Newcastle&#39s own The Mortgage Adviser website so you can see what you&#39re up against. You can find the site either by following the links on &#39specialist mortgages&#39 from its main site or by going straight to

& When you get there it doesn&#39t just offer specialist mortgages but does the lot – and insurances to boot. And I have to say it looks good. The information reads well too, although sections like &#39choosing the right mortgage&#39 could do with fuller indexing. The contact telephone number is always on screen and prominent and there&#39s an online enquiry form for times when the call centre isn&#39t open. It may not be perfect but as an example of how to design a strong broker site, it works for me.