Internet Insite

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

I struggle to see how some of these smaller societies survive. The insular, parochial approach is limiting and archaic but people use them. Admittedly we are not talking about a tidal wave of new business but obviously enough to keep them in business.

My review sites this week are full of potential but have no real substance. The first two at least make an effort and provide the promise of a good experience but fall down when it comes to testing this. Monmouthshire on the other hand is so amateurish compared to the other two it makes them seem bristling with technology, It’s not good enough to class as a brochure site and shows a complacency difficult to grasp.

Melton Mowbray
I was pleasantly surprised when I first found the Melton Mowbray website as it is clean, clear and crisp with an uncluttered business feel about it. Sadly, like a well presented cheap wine it is all gloss and no substance. The main site does show the entire mortgage range but aside from explaining what a Key Facts Illustration is there is no functionality. You can’t produce an online KFI or apply online – at least via the consumer-facing site. Regarding the intermediary section, I did find one eventually but was asked for a username and log-in but no apparent way of obtaining said details. Useful for checking out the deals available but you’ll have to hit the telephone to get any further.

My hopes were lifted at being presented with the vibrant unfussy homepage for Mercantile, one of the North-East’s oldest building societies. This euphoria was short-lived. Unfortunately, once again there is no online functionality and you are depressingly aimed at a telephone number if you want to go any further than simply browsing the rates available. Again, there is absolutely no recognition of the intermediary sector, either on the main site or via a separate website – which is not terribly surprising as I don’t think Mercantile does much in the broker market. In fact, this is probably the reason the society only did 47m in lending last year. And that’s a shame as Mercantile has some competitive rates.

Another school project of a website, I’m afraid. No initial high as I logged on to the homepage. It starts low and stays there. Any form of functionality would be a plus with this site. Ironically the best part of the website is the link to Monmouthshire’s own financial advice business. This is clearly where the society gets is business from as I can’t see any brokers outside of Monmouthshire using it. Again there is no online KFI or application and you are directed to a telephone number should you want to go any further (assuming you have not lost the will to live by then). This parochial, minimalistic approach obviously works for the community of South Wales but not for a lender in the wider broker market, I think.33,614 registered users can’t be wrong