It never ceases to amaze me how many mortgage companies don't know what the definition of a mortgage is. This week it's Standard Life Bank's turn. In its jargon buster, Standard Life Bank describes a mortgage as “a loan for buying property”. So can we nail this once and for all? A mortgage is not a loan. The home-buying public may see it as a loan and no doubt plenty of others see it as a loan as well. But in a glossary of terminology, which users expect to be accurate, we ought to have the terms defined correctly. And a mortgage is a charge over a property given by the property owner as security for a loan. Thus, the borrower, not the lender, is the mortgagor and the lender is the mortgagee.
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Standard Life Bank
Talk about confusing! Let's start with two separate websites. Standard Life Bank has its own website and within that there's an intermediary section from which you can do online applications, download documents and sales aids and play with calculators. Standard Life then has a group website for UK intermediaries (www.ifazone.co.uk) which includes all of this mortgage functionality but also allows you to track applications. OK, I can cope with that. But then on the telephone side, there are the mortgage broker helpline, broker contact centre and sales support line plus different broker helplines for different mortgage types. Too many contact points. But Standard Life Bank must like confusion – one of its product portfolio's key features is “no mortgage indemnity guarantee premium to pay” and then it charges an extra 0.2% for loans over 90%. Still, the material looks good in its orange and dark blue livery. And I particularly like its approach to the Freestyle Home Cash Plan. At 12 pages, the booklet has more white space than text but reads well and takes care to promote SHIP and a separate booklet for the client's family members. Lending terms are presented clearly – both Freestyle mortgages and buy-to-lets have everything on one side of A4.
The Mortgage Works
I think I've worked out what some of the marketing guys in Bournemouth do in their spare time – must be origami, if the product guide is anything to go by. I know it's not as bad as a road map but wouldn't a booklet style be easier to use than all these folds? Once you've found your way around, though, the product details are presented clearly enough, although the small print of the lending terms and criteria had me searching for stronger reading glasses. As a single communication piece it's got everything, it's just a bit unwieldy. Alongside this sits a 12-page sales guide which provides information on the product groups plus features and benefits. As an introduction to what The Mortgage Works does, it's pretty good. And there's a bunch of consumer leaflets you can use to support your clients with as well. The design consistency is strong right across the range, though the imagery does nothing for me, especially the woman with her tongue out waiting to be fed. There aren't enough different images with the result that it all gets rather repetitive. In the website's intermediary zone, there are literature and form downloads as well as product information. But as yet no online functionality for applications and case tracking.