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Marketing Brief

Over the past few weeks I&#39ve been looking at commercial and short-term lenders and there are still one or two left on my list. But I promised to take a look at a couple of residential lenders based in Northern Ireland so here are First Trust Bank and the Progressive, both based in Belfast.

First Trust Bank is a subsidiary of Allied Irish Bank distributing, amongst other products, a range of mortgages directly to consumers. Progressive has a wider distribution with a good chunk of its mortgage business coming via intermediaries. Initially, neither lender could understand why I would want to write about their marketing material but both came up with the goods. To be honest, I don&#39t particularly like either set of material but at least it was easy to find interest rates on the Progressive&#39s website.

If you have any comments on the lender material you use, send them to me at mortgage.strategy@centaur.co.uk

First Trust Bank

www.firsttrustbank.co.uk/mortgages

One of the great things about the internet is that website owners don&#39t have to do much to keep all their product information lively and up-to-date and website visitors can get all the information they need with a few mouse clicks. While that may be true for the majority of the internet, it doesn&#39t seem to have filtered through to First Trust Bank yet. You would think, wouldn&#39t you, that it would be easy to find information on product rates. There are no links from the product information, not even from their list of features on their fixed rate mortgages and it was only by mistake that I eventually found a rate schedule. Makes you wonder if they&#39ve got something to hide. Shame really, as the website has got some interesting stuff on it, especially on self-build, a significant market sector in Northern Ireland, and on ideas for home improvements. These two areas go some way to supporting the proposition of wanting the customer to say yes to a First Trust Bank mortgage. Nice touch this – so much more customer-centred than the old TSB strapline of &#39the bank that likes to say yes&#39. As to the printed material, there are lots of features but not many benefits.

The Progressive

www.theprogressive.com

I reviewed the Progressive&#39s website just over a year ago and it doesn&#39t seem to have changed much. The cartoon imagery still reminds me of the Jetsons and I still don&#39t understand why some people are wearing space helmets and others aren&#39t. One of life&#39s great imponderables. But the mortgage information contains just what I would need if I wanted the facts about a mortgage product. For example, click on &#39fixed rate mortgages&#39 and up comes the fixed rate range including the headline rates. Click on an individual product and up come the details of rates, fees and charges. First Trust Bank could learn a lot from looking at this (ignoring the cartoons, of course). And they would do well to emulate the Progessive&#39s straightforward monthly repayment calculator too. All in all, and turning a blind eye to the imagery this is honest, simple stuff. The information is clear and easy to get at, and you get the impression it does exactly what it says on the tin. As far as the printed material is concerned the one-third A4 mortgage leaflet is basic. Clearly it&#39s not intended to be anything more than an introduction to the Progressive&#39s mortgage services so it doesn&#39t try to be.

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