Internet Insight

Mortgage Strategy\'s weekly guide to what\'s hot and what\'s not on the web. Kevin Paterson takes a look at lender websites, working his way from A to Z

Impressed I am by Market Harborough’s website this week. I’m not sure Yoda ever said that but he would have if he’d seen it. It has everything brokers need and much more for customers. The only thing is, it would do well to get some public and broker input to bring some clarity to this multi-layered site. By contrast, Mansfield and Marsden are little more than brochure sites and not very good ones at that. Mansfield reassuringly refers to its KFI fax-back facility. But I can’t remember the last time I used a fax. Marsden pays lip service to online facilities, preferring to direct customers to a telephone number for KFIs and applications. And both play on the multi-level field that is dual pricing.

Despite the modern logo on the homepage, Mansfield appears to be anything but. A total absence of functionality makes the site next to useless for brokers. The society makes the point of redirecting brokers to its sourcing systems for Key Facts Illustration production, but this misses the point of lender accuracy. You can rather quaintly print a KFI request form and fax it to Mansfield. Assuming you request this in working hours it will be faxed back within two hours. Despite repeated attempts I could not get the mortgage calculator to work. Once again, dual pricing is evident with certain products shown highlighted as not available via intermediaries – never a good idea if you want to work in the intermediary market.

Market Harborough
This is a modern clean website and it’s obvious Market Harborough has spent a lot of time and money putting it together. But the lines between customer and broker are blurred with the sides seemingly merged. You can obtain a basic decision in principle and full KFI online but the site forces you to go through quite a long winded process to get to this point which lets it down a bit. The society has a range of competitive products and allows its customers to manage their accounts and applications online. For a mutual, it is refreshing to see this type of investment in online services and with a little additional clarity for the broker community it could be quite a powerful site.

There is no real functionality with the Marsden website and equally depressing is the lack of broker interactivity. The graphics are limited to a range of different coloured roses, which I am sure have a relevance to the society that is not immediately apparent to me. There is further evidence of dual pricing, which flies in the face of a transparent advice process. Even Marsden’s direct customers don’t get access to any real functionality and are directed to a telephone number for advice, application and KFI production. Ironically, the site boasts an intermediary sales support team but despite a detailed search I could find no evidence of any real commitment to the broker community.