How many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
I cover everywhere from Swansea to Norfolk as BDM for the central region of the UK, and this is a patch which is home to thousands of brokers. Our distribution is expanding all the time with new network partners, mortgage clubs and packagers so I expect the number of advisers and broker firms under my remit to continue to increase in the months ahead.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
As the patch I cover is large, it is essential that I plan my schedule in advance and pick new business leads carefully. I take the time to properly research the brokers not currently partnered with us to ensure I am meeting businesses where we can match our products with their customer needs, giving them an alternative option. I’m also in constant communication with our existing partners to help them provide the right solution for their customers.
What issues come up time and time again?
As a new lender to the market, we are still establishing ourselves. Not everyone is aware of our proposition so we’re working hard to get in front of people to forge trust and familiarity with Secure Trust Bank. As there are a lot of brokers to see and only a few of us, that can be a bit challenging at times.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
Just that the role requires a lot of time travelling and some late nights away from home – it’s not all networking and jollies as some people might imagine. We value the time spent with brokers and structure our day to meet as many as possible. As we are often travelling large distances to meet people, it can be a little frustrating to receive last minute cancellations. We understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, however as much notice as possible is always appreciated.
What do you think is the most important attribute of a good BDM?
Being accessible, returning calls, and being straight with people are all vital attributes that help me do my job effectively. The latter is especially important – while I love saying yes to new business enquiries, I’m comfortable saying no if it’s not one for us. Clients appreciate someone who will be straightforward and open with them.
When you’re unavailable to be contacted by telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
I can also be contacted by email and will always respond at the first opportunity. The same rules apply to voicemail messages. For immediate assistance we have a dedicated telephone support team based at the office in Bourne End, who can help with enquiries if I’m not immediately available.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
Given the powers, I’d introduce greater regulation to control the vast difference in service levels between competitors in the mortgage industry. Too often we see certain firms taking far too long to even look at documents, and this can have a significant impact on customers. I’d impose a time limit on decisions to mitigate this at the very least – because, in my view, there is no excuse for taking over a week to check over a document.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
It was when I was at the West Brom, running the direct and branch based mortgage unit, that I first seriously considered the role of BDM as a career. I could see the way the industry was heading, with the volume of business being generated by the intermediary channel increasing each year. Wanting to get a piece of the intermediary market, I became a BDM with the West Brom before the opportunity to join Secure Trust Bank presented itself early this year.
I really enjoy the variety of the role, and I still get a massive buzz from forging new relationships with businesses and seeing the value we are able to add to that company as a result.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
I believe that honesty and getting to know people on a personal level are both very important to establishing and maintaining good relationships with brokers. Creating business opportunities that work for both parties comes from the trust I am able to establish with brokers, so I will always provide honest advice.
How do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
While the nature of my role means I’m not around the office much, when I am present I ensure I treat people with respect and spend as much time with the team as possible. We have regular events where the team meets up after work hours, and I’ll always make an effort to mix with as many new people as I can.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
I was once asked, at the end of a meeting with a broker, whether I was single. Turns out the broker wanted to set me up on a blind date with their single friend. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a blind date but we did end up exchanging a few messages.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be a comedian or a comedy writer growing up. I’m a massive fan of Father Ted, Men Behaving Badly, and especially The Office. Ricky Gervais, hands down, is my favourite comedian – I would’ve modelled my style on him. I do actually have a sitcom script in progress that I add to every now and again. Maybe one day I’ll get around to finishing it.