How many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
My patch as BDM for the south covers from Cambridge to Cornwall and everywhere in between. We are still expanding rapidly but currently any brokers in that area fall under my remit.
In addition to all the brokers in my territory, I also manage the relationship with 15 key accounts, which includes mortgage clubs, packagers, and networks.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
I sometimes travel a fair distance, so planning ahead and being efficient is key. Getting multiple brokers to the same place at the same time, for example, is a great time-saver, so encouraging multiple brokers to the same events can be very helpful for everyone.
What issues come up time and time again?
As a specialist lender that is still relatively new to the market, the challenge for us is to build awareness of our proposition and educate brokers about what we can offer. Often we can help when the high street banks cannot, so instead of giving up on their search, we want brokers to know that we are an option and we will take the time to carefully review each case and each customer’s circumstances individually.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
I think it is important to remember that, ultimately, our role as BDMs is to help more people access mortgages. We want brokers to understand that by working together we can help the customer, and the scale of that benefit is dictated by the strength of our relationship.
What do you think is the most important attribute of a good BDM?
Being accessible and approachable is really important and so is the ability to understand when it’s ok to chat and when to just get straight to the point. As someone who has worked as a broker, I get that time is a valuable resource so the ability to be succinct can be a useful tool.
Oh, and it always helps to dress well, too.
When you’re unavailable to be contacted by telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
If I’m not available on my mobile, brokers can get in touch through email. I always endeavour to respond within 24 hours.
We also have a dedicated intermediary support team, which is on hand to cover any enquiries brokers may have should a more immediate response be required.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
I think more needs to be done to reduce the level of customers sitting on standard variable rates (SVR) and we should be more proactive in helping them save money where we can.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
I originally started my career as a broker. This helped me to develop a good understanding of the challenges and the pressures to get deals done, and this is something I took with me when I eventually made the switch over to lender side to support brokers and the intermediary market.
I really enjoy my role as BDM. No two days are ever the same and it’s great to be able to work with brokers to achieve a common goal.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
Maintaining regular contact with brokers and getting to know them is key. I understand the value of their time, but if there is the opportunity to have a catch up over a coffee I will always take the time to do that.
I’m a people person, so getting to know the brokers we work with is a really enjoyable part of the job for me. It also pays to be memorable.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
While the role can be fairly nomadic, I do try to spend as much time with our internal teams as I can when I’m in the office.
When it comes to getting a deal over the line, it is important to recognise the work that our wider team puts in behind the scenes to complete the process. Maintaining good internal relationships comes down to understanding that for the business to succeed, everyone must play a part and everyone deserves the same amount of respect.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
I’ve been asked a couple of strange questions in my career – both while working in New Zealand, funnily enough.
The first of which was when I was asked by a customer: “Do you take cows as collateral?”.
I thought it was a wind-up until a colleague confirmed that yes, it is perfectly acceptable to take cows as collateral in New Zealand. Incidentally, lambs and sheep are also accepted. Who knew?
At the same bank, I was later put in the unenviable position of informing a customer that we would unfortunately be unable to approve her mortgage application. Furious, the customer launched into a verbal tirade in a language I didn’t understand. Confused, I was then informed that the customer had put a curse on me in her native Maori tongue. I’m sure this is the reason for my lack of success at the Grand National.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
I’m a big West Ham fan, so I’ve always dreamt of being their number 10. Judging by current form, that might even be a possibility in the not too distant future.