Vernon follows a similar formula to the many mutuals seen in this column. One step up from a brochure website it plays safe with presentation but the website does a poor job of marketing itself and functionality is next to non-existent. Given its restrictions in lending it’s no surprise Vernon does not court the broker sector.
As you’d expect from the UK’s ninth largest mutual the West Bromwich website is pretty comprehensive. There is lots of functionality and also a dedicated broker website. Although it’s not easy to find, this demonstrates a commitment to the intermediary sector – although the acquisition of mortgageforce is a bit of a mystery.
Mostly harmless is the best way to describe Vernon’s website. The presentation and colours are clean and crisp making the website easy to navigate although there is not a lot to look at. Functionality lets this seven-branch mutual down – largely because there isn’t any. The lending criteria are restrictive too. Vernon does not typically lend to anyone who lives outside a 25-mile radius of it’s head office in Stockport. I understand why mutual lenders have to place restrictions on their lending but I’m not convinced restrictions by geography are the best way to do this. There is no broker contact or recognition on the website at all.
Occupying ninth position in the mutual league table, West Brom delivers an impressive site which I am sure members of the mortgageforce team had some input into designing. There is lots of functionality and plenty of information and detail available. However, the marketing side of the site lets it down, opting for online details rather than downloads, and while there are plenty of forms to download there is precious little in the way of product support literature or additional marketing material. Annoyingly, West Brom also lists its exclusive products on the intermediary site. Aside from not having enough information on the products, these are not available to the wider broking community anyway.38,000 registered users can’t be wrong