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HSBC move sparks speculation over mortgage distribution

HSBC’s decision to distribute protection products via third party distributors has sparked speculation that it could soon embrace the intermediary market and make mortgage products available to brokers for the first time.

The bank is planning to make its life, critical illness and income protection products available to selected IFAs in the second half of 2007 although it has not yet decided whether to use its existing range of products or roll out new offerings.

Although HSBC has always vetoed intermediaries distributing its mortgage products, some pundits believe that recent estimates that brokers control three-quarters of the market have forced it to think again.

One source says: “HSBC has never been a friend of intermediaries but it wants a bigger presence in the mortgage market. It is looking at new distribution routes and brokers play a major role in its investigations.”

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, says he isn’t aware of any plans for HSBC to launch intermediary distribution for its mortgage products.

But he adds: “The change of policy six months ago which saw HSBC launch discount rates as well as SVRs suggests that its previous policy wasn’t bringing in enough new business or making enough profit. The change makes its more viable for it to enter the intermediary mortgage market.”

Jeff Knight, director of marketing at GMAC-RFC, warns that if HSBC enters the market with only a mainstream proposition it may struggle to take market share from lenders such as Halifax unless it launches innovative products.

An HSBC spokeswoman says that although it always keeps an eye on the potential of intermediary distribution of mortgages, it has no plans to do this at the moment.

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