Bankers are always in the news lately, and not always for the right reasons. But according to new research from Sitemorse, there’s good news from the consumer finance sector.

Intelligent Finance heads the Sitemorse Consumer Finance Benchmark for Q4 2011, the fifth successive quarter the consumer site, which is part of the Bank of Scotland, has come ‘top of the pops’ in this four times a year survey. IF scored an excellent total 9.7 out of a possible ten marks against a criteria list including code quality, accessibility and compliance.

Many of the best-known names in our benchmark covering 273 consumer finance companies do not appear near the top of the table, but two companies in the top five have made spectacular rises since previous surveys.

Cardiff-based Julian Hodge Bank – no stranger to the top of the Sitemorse table, having come top six times over the last couple of years, is second this time with a score of 9.2. Less than 25 years old, the bank is from the same stable that created Chartered Trust and Bank of Wales plc, both part of the dynamic South of Wales financial centre.

Debt collection experts Clarity Credit Management are rated third in our table with a score of 8.6, but Clarity’s 38-place rise in the table is outdone by the fourth and fifth ranked winners, Welcome Finance, with a rise of 142 and Central Capital, with a rise of 232 that has taken them halfway up the Sitemorse table. Well-known names in the top dozen include mortgage specialists John Charcol and the Monmouthshire and Darlington Building Societies.

Sitemorse regularly conducts surveys of the websites of businesses and organisations, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed results for a decade. The finance websites were audited to see how they performed against a list of criteria including code quality, accessibility and compliance. Full results from the survey can be seen http://www.sitemorse.com/rt/800/7aec9827.

Intelligent Finance was set up at a time when many banks were using new technology to reduce the costs of providing financial services. A market leader first in offset banking, IF now specialises in transparent savings accounts and its website, simple to navigate, manages to explain complicated financial procedures in understandable ways for users.

As in so many of our surveys, It was not all good news, of course, and nearly 200 websites surveyed scored below five out of ten. Eight operators including ANZ Investment Bank and Commerzbank scored less than two. Slow-loading sites were headed by Woolwich Building Society, Brewin Dolphin Holdings and Lex Vehicle Leasing, all well-known players.

Sitemorse concluded: Consumer finance websites seem to be a game of two halves, with some excellent ones like the winners of this benchmark survey outnumbered by sites with poorly functioning, slow to load pages. We would expect companies in this vital sector to understand the importance of efficiently working websites – after all, they would know when clients are overdrawn, why not when their website functions poorly?

About our surveys

For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking.

Our unique Index publications, published several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites, with insight into which are passing – and failing - vital tests in performance, compliance, and accessibility.

Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.

Sitemorse is the product of choice for organisations wishing to ensure their sites provide total, holistic web governance and a great user experience. Our hundreds of clients across major corporates, local and national government, utilities, financials and the health sector rely on us to help them improve the performance, compliance and quality of their websites, delivering control and web confidence.

Technical Data

This survey took place during October 2011 and involved benchmarking more than 296,000 URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for Abbey National’s site, with more than 952,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site was from the HSBC Private Bank.

More information

• Click http://www.sitemorse.com/benchmark.html to see our ranking methodology page – how we come to our conclusions
• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 1525 375057, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

About Sitemorse

Sitemorse is the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring and benchmarking. With nothing to set up or manage,

Sitemorse's services are focused on optimising visitor experience, improving search rankings, protecting brand, IP and compliance. Covering performance, compliance (accessibility, brand, code, regulatory, SEO) and quality - from one to a million pages, monitoring from every second to every year, and everything in-between - Sitemorse delivers control and confidence for the Internet and Intranet sites of hundreds of clients.

Published on: 8:16AM on 2nd December 2011