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Know Your BDM: David Castling, Atom Bank

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  • 19/01/2017
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Know Your BDM: David Castling, Atom Bank
This week Mortgage Solutions is talking to David Castling, who heads up the BDM team for Atom Bank's Digital Mortgages division.

How many BDMs and networks do you manage and cover in your role?

I have a team of seven awesome regional BDMs located throughout the country to give us full national coverage and we have an office team of seven telephone BDMs, intermediary support and quality assurance. At present we have all we need to cover the two networks we are launching with.

How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?

It sounds a little bit of cliché but you can’t beat a good list. Personally, I’m using Google “Keep” to keep me in straight line on a day-to-day basis. My days are often filled with meetings, conference calls, system reviews, planning and myriad of other items so I need something to hold myself to account at the end of the day.

What issues come up time and time again?

That’s a big question… It depends on the context. Internally we have some of the expected challenges that come with not only being a start-up business but also driving a change agenda in an established market. From an intermediary servicing point of view the feedback from the market is still accessibility, reliable and speedy processing and open communication – all of which we will be addressing head on with our mortgage proposition.

What do you wish networks and their brokers understood about your job?

I guess the balancing act we have to achieve juggling intermediary relationships who are sometimes fierce competitors – we have a lot of brokers to look after and we are absolutely committed to doing a brilliant job for each based on their individual needs. This does at times mean we have to make priority calls but are confident we have the systems, processes and more importantly people to be excellent in meetings the needs of our brokers and the end customer.

What do you think is the most important attribute in a good BDM?

I think taking the time to really understand their brokers business and what makes it tick combined with having a conscientious work ethic. Without these I think we are just paying lip service and ticking a box in a visit tracker somewhere. We took a lot of time to get the right BDMs for us and believe they will deliver exceptional service that looks and feels like Digital Mortgages. We don’t apply targets relating to the number of cases or how many visits we can get through in a week because we wanted to facilitate the flexibility to spend the right amount of time with each individual or firm.

When you’re unavailable to contact via telephone, what’s the second-best way for people to get in touch?

We have a lot of ways for brokers to get in touch. Every BDM has a corresponding telephone BDM (TBDM) for their region and if they are not available every other TBDM has the knowledge and system access to cover any region. We can be contacted by phone, e-mail, SMS, Twitter and LinkedIn (webchat coming soon!).

If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?

I think that the pursuit of the buy-to-let market with a view to freeing up housing stock to first-time buyers is perhaps unlikely to yield the intended results. The deeper issue is really down to the lack of housing stock and our inability to build enough volume of the right property types in the right areas for people looking to get on the property ladder. I also think I would have liked the FCA to be more prescriptive in its foray towards PSD2 (Directive on Payment Services) – open access banking for customers will be the next paradigm shift in a mature market. To allow the best outcome for customers we really need a prescribed standardisation of how this will work to allow easy movement of customers across the market as opposed to different banks coming up with a variety of different technical solutions.

What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?

I had spent 5-6 years in sales of one form or another and wanted to move away from a very transactional, task-orientated role. Business development really appealed to me because at its core was the relationship not the product and this allows for something more significant to be developed over time. I must like it as I have stayed in business development within financial services for the last 14 years.

How do you establish and maintain good relationships in the industry?

Maintaining regular contact, being honest and transparent and making sure all stakeholders have a good understanding of each other’s objectives. I think if you are honest about what you are trying to achieve and find a way to make things mutually beneficial for all parties it is a good foundation to build from.

And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?

Again communication is key, a lot of frustration can be created when people either don’t have enough information or haven’t been taken on the journey with you when moving projects forward. I think I am approachable and willing to listen to anyone’s point of view. Fortunately the culture within Digital Mortgages is very open and anyone can talk to anyone directly which breaks down the difficulty sometimes seen with very rigid hierarchies.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

In my interview for Atom Bank I was asked what type of fruit I would be, that’s pretty weird…

And finally, what did you want to be growing up?

I went through a few stages but seriously looked at the fire service and at one point did go for an interview to become an officer in the Royal Armored Core. Obviously, I ended up in a bank!

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