This week’s top comment came from Paul Jones, who was responding to the article: Comparison sites should recommend brokers at the end of a search – Marketwatch.
He said: “Comparison websites have the ability to attract customers through their established brands and advertising. For a customer with a maturing deal who doesn’t want to borrow more money then you can understand the attraction especially with things like no broker fee.
“In the future, once the connections are made with the lenders, like they are with insurance providers, then customers will be able to get multiple decisions in principle and complete the transaction directly with the lender they choose to.
“That will be the preferred way of distribution for the aggregator because they won’t then have to share the proc fee with a broker,” he added.
He continued: “It’s up to us brokers to ensure we stay in contact with our customers. We complain about lenders writing one letter to the customer a few months before maturity.
“We need to wake up and realise the ball is in our court to make sure the customer understands the benefits of speaking to a broker and receiving advice.”
A call to action for customers
Another comment on the same article came from Andy Wilson, who said: “I have long held that best buy tables should be renamed because they will never be the best buy for all borrowers.
“At best they might put forward the lowest interest rate for a given loan amount or loan to value; but this is not a best buy, because it doesn’t factor in set up costs, reversion rates and other criteria.
“Comparison sites are devised solely to act as calls to action for prospective customers. The site owners make nothing from people looking at their sites, they make money from those people moving on to interact with and buy products or services from the site partners.”
He added: “I can perfectly understand a site owner forming a partnership with a large and ostensibly reliable broker, as this is a commercial decision, although I would expect that partner to be a ‘whole of market’ broker.
“Another commercial decision for the site owners will be to limit the number of partners. This makes everything easier to manage and control, and ultimately generate income from.
“Small brokers need to accept the big players have their distribution methods, but we need to recognise and refine our own niches and offering.
“We offer a personal service, which is backed with experience and local knowledge, and the ability to explain why a supposed ‘best buy’ is actually nothing of the sort for you, Mr Client – but here is an acceptable alternative based on your own very individual circumstances.”
He added: “One last thing – I would censure any broker who claims to their clients that they ‘research the entire mortgage market for the best deal’. No, you don’t. You physically can’t.
“Not all sourcing systems have literally every lender on them, and you certainly don’t research every lender online or by telephone if they are not on the sourcing system. What you can do at best is ‘offer a mortgage from a wide range of lenders who are representative of the whole market’. Watch the wording and get it right.”
Not an accurate representation of deals
Terry Arch also added to the debate on the same article, he said: “The problem with comparison websites is they do not compare all the deals out there. They are funded by the providers who contribute to their costs, so if you do not want to contribute you do not appear.
“The number of times I have had clients ring me and advise that they have applied for a mortgage via a website but have got knocked back. The computer says ‘no’. I admit I use comparison websites and then go off piste and also look elsewhere, often getting a better deal.”