Google moves into mortgages with US lenders
Google has launched a mortgage lead-generation facility in the US, prompting speculation that it may make a similar move in the UK and raising fears over the impact this could have on mortgage brokers.
Google’s AdWords Comparison Ads, which is currently available to people in 15 US states, lets consumers compare mortgages from participating lenders which pay Google a fee if the customer requests a quote.
Financial Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna warns that if the internet search giant sets up the same model in the UK and links up with lenders, it could have a big impact on mortgage brokers’ business.
He says: “The question is, how many partners would they select? Would they go for a small number of major partners? If they did, that could be very damaging for the smaller mortgage broker.
“Anyone that did not feature on their partner list would start to find life very uncomfortable.”
McKenna believes that, given Google’s 90 per cent share of the UK search market, this new facility would transform the mortgage industry in the UK and broker activity could retreat to the levels of the 1970s. He says: “Once they launch, the UK mortgage industry will never be the same again. We have held the view here for some time that the UK mortgage broking community would never recover to what it was before not by a long way.
“Google could take a staggering market share in a short period of time.”
But Alexander Hall chief operating officer Andy Pratt says: “Google is well positioned to take advantage of the market that is there but not necessarily change the market.
“The majority of people in the UK are still going to want to either speak to people over the phone or face to face.”