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Brokers angry as Rock sets up direct site with ‘advice’

Brokers have hit out at Northern Rock’s decision to launch a new direct-only mortgage website which claims to offer “helpful advice” to borrowers.

The nationalised bank, which does between 85 and 90 per cent of its mortgage business through intermediaries, launched the website last week, which it says is “unique to the market,” customer-focused and will offer advice to consumers.

However, The Mortgage Practitioner principal Danny Lovey says the move will starve brokers.

He says: “I think it is evident that they are distancing themselves from intermediaries. They all pay lip service to the intermediary market.

“They are not naive enough to think that they can be the intermediary’s friend and at the same time take away business and encourage it to come direct. It is not just a question of starving the intermediary market, it is misleading of them to suggest that they can give ’advice’ when they are not authorised to do so. The FSA should look at the sort of statements these lenders are making.”

HMG Financial Services mortgage consultant Harry McGinn says: “I think it is a case of Northern Rock biting the hand that feeds it.”

A Northern Rock spokeswoman stresses that brokers are still key to the bank’s plans. She says: “Intermediaries remain a core part of our strategy,and that is unlikely to change.”

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