First National was in the throes of a redesign when I contacted it earlier in the year so I thought I would leave it until now and put it alongside SPML. And an interesting pair of bedfellows they make too. Ignoring products and rates – this is after all a column reviewing marketing material rather than product portfolios – SPML wins as far as the printed material is concerned. To my eye it looks better and, despite its greater complexity, works better. But First National is well ahead in the online stakes. SPML may cry foul and cite its developments in bridging and personal loans as well as its intention to redevelop its website but at the moment its internet proposition is off the pace, which is why SPML's overall score lags.
If you have any comments on the lender material you use, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There's only one pre-printed piece of material that First National issues for intermediaries and that's the product guide. But there is an extensive online service which has recently been reviewed and relaunched. Looking at the product guide to start with, this is in double fold-out A4 landscape format which is simply too big to be manageable. I'm sure it could all fit into a smaller space. Still, at least there's plenty of room for the product information so no excuse for not picking out the right product features from the table. The colour scheme of the guide is based on the green from the First National logo and that would be OK if it weren't for having the underwriting and lending criteria in white text on this green background. The print-face is too small to work well in this layout.
Fortunately, things are a lot better on the website which is in two versions – for brokers and packagers. It looks smart – certainly smarter than when I reviewed it last August. The site offers a wide range of services including a knowledge base, help with product selection, case tracking and document downloads plus an online site tour by way of a user guide. If you haven't seen it yet it's certainly worth a look.
Southern Pacific Mortgage Limited
SPML tells me it is investing heavily in IT and that a chunk of this is going into website development. Product wizards that pre-populate AIPs and that will eventually pre-populate full apps are promised. I hope the investment also means that opening the various pages and moving around the site will improve as, having had a number of goes over several days, I began to wonder if there was a problem with my internet connection until I tried a few other lender sites with no difficulty. SPML sets great store by its broker feedback, especially on website development (so well done, I say) so if you have any problems, do let it know. It has already won several service awards and would no doubt like more.
As to the printed material, I like it. You can tell straightaway that everything comes from the same place. Even the bridging loan stuff, which is just different enough to avoid confusing it with the main mortgage literature, fits in. The product guide is another A4 double fold-out but this time in portrait format and easier to use. There's a lot of product information here but it doesn't look overcrowded. I find the general criteria hard going. And black text out of a blue background is not ideal.