Mortgage Brain has stepped up its campaign to develop a universal common trading platform, with the announcement that it is in talks with the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association (IMLA) about taking a financial stake in the system.
Mike Green, sales director at Mortgage Brain, said: ‘We have been delighted by the approach from IMLA. It represents a number of niche market players and we would welcome it on board because of its market expertise in this area. With the addition of IMLA, we would have over 50% of the intermediary market.’
The move follows the disclosure that the platform is only looking for a further three equity partners in addition to Halifax, Nationwide and Alliance & Leicester. But Green said this would not affect lenders who want to get involved in the consultation process. Green said the platform will split into a two-tier structure, with the six that want to join as equity partners having a seat on the board, and those who just want to sign up to be a part of it still allowed to influence the consultation process.
‘We now have five companies interested in acquiring an equity stake, but there will be no real difference between the partners, as they will all have to sign the same contract,’ said Green.
In a further announcement, Mortgage Brain has revealed it has begun conducting online trials with Nationwide, and expects Halifax to follow suit in the near future. But rival trading platform IFonline has stated it is already at a more advanced stage, giving it the competitive advantage at the moment.
Richard Hurst, marketing manager at IFonline, said: ‘We now have more than 50 lenders signed up, which is a tremendous offering for intermediaries not matched in the market. With all the hype, it is time for brokers to seize the initiative and find out which of these platforms will deliver what they require. The fact that more than 50 lenders have signed up shows they are obviously confident of our pricing system.’
Despite these developments, brokers appear to be adopting a cautious attitude towards the trading platforms. Mike Boles, director at Savills Private Finance, said: ‘For us, it is a question of how well these systems work. The crunch will be to get enough lenders on board to make it widely used. While they may be pushing to get more lenders signed up, lenders move at varying speeds and it will take a while for them to be ready to accept applications.’