Barclays to offer direct mortgages

B2, the telephone savings and investment arm of Barclays Bank, is gearing up to offer direct mortgages.

It is also considering increasing its distribution channels to include the Internet and interactive TV. The company offers equity ISAs (individual savings accounts based on shares) and is expected to launch a cash ISA later in the year.

John Varley, chief executive of Barclays’ retail financial services division, told Marketing Week: “We are looking at direct mortgages.

“B2 has proven its ability to command attention in the value-sensitive segment of the market and it is time to consider other propositions.”

B2 is one of a number of companies looking to set up direct mortgage operations. Rupert Murdoch’s new Internet holding company eVentures plans to create a UK arm of US online mortgage retailer E-Loan later this year, while emfinance, a new Internet mortgage broker from online financial services provider The Exchange, will launch later this year.

The news comes as B2 shakes up its marketing operations. B2 is marketed under the auspices of Barclays Funds, Barclays’ unit trust operation.

Barclays Funds marketing director Graham Leigh is leaving to become head of reputational management at actuary William Mercer.

Marketing will be split into two 15-strong departments: one for B2 and one for Barclays Funds.

The restructured B2 marketing department will develop the B2 brand and look at ways of exploiting new delivery channels.

Ritchie Macdonald, formerly responsible for B2’s advertising and branding at Barclays Funds, will become B2 marketing director.

Meanwhile, Barclays Funds head of customer marketing communication Mike Watson will head the slimmed-down Barclays Funds department.

Under the new structure Banks Hoggins O’Shea/Foote Cone Belding will remain as B2’s advertising agency.

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