The Mortgage Operation is launching a consumer website to rival the likes of Charcolonline and the soon to be launched netmortgage.co.uk from Savills Private Finance.
The site, which is yet to be named but will be separately branded, will offer consumers direct access to every product from every lender on the market with the capability of applying for most of these online.
A launch date is yet to be finalised, but the move marks a significant shift in direction for TMO, previously an intermediary-only operation.
Josh Cooper, TMO marketing director, said that what would set the site apart from other players in the online consumer mortgage sector would be the solid base of mortgage expertise on which it was built.
He said: “We are getting close to finalising decisions, but there are some key issues that still need to be resolved.
“Essentially, the fundamental difference between what we are doing and the way others are doing it is that we have approached this from a mortgage-based background. Other players have relied too heavily on their technological expertise as an excuse for moving into the online mortgage market.”
The past six months have seen a wave of new online start-ups from both IFAs and lenders. While most offer the facility for transactions to take place at the click of a mouse, customers are often wary of completing the deal online due to possible security breaches and an increase in internet crime.
But Cooper said: “A lot of customers are still wary of sending financial details over the internet. As a result, we will also be offering a facility whereby applicants can, at any given point in the service, speak directly with a member of staff in our call centre who will be qualified to give them independent advice over the telephone.”
He added that there was a possibility that the site may offer the option for the consumer to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a reputable intermediary.
“We recognise the reality of the sales process. When you are dealing with something as big as this, it can only be expected that people may become wary and crave for the interface with a fellow human. We are not turning our back on the intermediary market. Far from it. We have simply recognised that this is a developing market. We have pulled in additional resources to make this happen and essentially we are there. It is just a case now of laying on the final touches.”
TMO’s latest version of its sourcing system, TMOS V6, which is available to brokers free of charge, was launched on 21 March at a presentation at Channel 4’s London TV studio.