Fleet Financial Group is using the Internet to steer borrowers toward mortgage loans.
Fleet's Web site greets prospective borrowers with general data about mortgages, then gives more detailed information during each subsequent visit.
For instance, browsers who ask for an overview of adjustable-rate mortgages on their first visit would probably find, on their next entry to the site, information about Fleet's own ARMs. If browsers show interest, they might next be greeted by a listing of Fleet's ARM rates. That could be followed by information about applying for a loan and access to an electronic calculator to determine how much could be borrowed.
The automated system is part of Fleet Financial's Personal Navigator Web site.
The site offers information about a broad array of products, including mutual funds and trust investments.
And it offers an opportunity to build leads for Fleet Mortgage Group, said Blaise L. Heltai, the banking company's senior vice president for business development.
"We're able to guide people through part of the process, giving them the information they need, as they need it," Mr. Heltai said.
Indeed, Fleet mortgages, while still requiring a visit to a loan officer for processing and closing, can be marketed on the Internet, industry observers said.
And Fleet's approach-providing broad educational material and specific product data-is a promising mix, they said.
Fleet wants to begin originating mortgages on-line but first has some security matters to work out, executives said.
Customers must feel assured that information they supply to the Web will not be picked up by anyone other than Fleet, said Kimberly Vausbinder, national marketing manager for Fleet Mortgage.
The site is already earning its keep from a public relations point of view, Ms. Vausbinder said. "It helps people take some of the mystery out of homebuying."
The mortgage site gets at least 1,000 visits each month and, judging from the kind of information requested, the vast majority of visit are from people interested in buying a home, Ms. Vausbinder said.
Fleet's Web site was developed by Quadravision, an Internet company based in Toronto.
These automated systems tighten banks' relationship with customers by bringing services into their homes, said John R. Long, Quadravision's president. "The more convenient you are, the more likely customers will be to look to you for mortgages and other loans."