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Underwear retailers won’t do the best deal

As Tesco’s will-they, won’t-they foray into the mortgage market rumbles on, another British retailer seems to have stolen a march. Marks & Spencer is gearing up to launch bank branches that will include a mortgage offering.

Although M&S already operates a financial services arm under the M&S Money brand, owned by HSBC, the first bank branch is set to open in the retailer’s flagship store in Marble Arch in July, with a further 20 branches mooted.

If Tesco and Virgin Money are anything to go by, it is probably not worth getting too excited. The fact that M&S is opening branches suggests brokers are not part of its distribution plan.

White-labelled financial services offerings will always have a place for the less discerning borrower who is happy to pick up an insurance policy while completing the weekly shop, but I don’t see this infringing on the expertise mortgage brokers can offer their customers.

Advisers can search for the most suitable home loan from a wide range of lenders, rather than trying to shoehorn their client into an off-the-shelf mortgage.

We must get that message across to a public that could find itself putting brand name before affordability and appropriateness.
Also, we need to ensure that consumers head to the professionals who can cover the whole of the market, rather than an organisation with a very limited product range and, dare I say it, one more readily associated with underwear.

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