How many brokers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
Lots, although not so many that I can’t provide the personal service which I know is important to brokers. In my role I’m responsible for the service we deliver for every intermediary business we work with. I typically spend half my time in the office managing our intermediary operations team and their service delivery, and the other half on the road working with our broker businesses through road shows and networking events.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
I am organised and thankfully multi-tasking comes easy. I pride myself on being available if ever a broker needs me. I’ve worked in the second charge industry for 11 years and have built great relationships with our lenders and know exactly what can be achieved and what can’t. This means the information I pass to intermediaries is right first time and that makes a big difference to them and our mutual customers.
What issues come up time and time again?
One of the biggest challenges historically has been raising intermediary awareness about the outcome a second charge mortgage can deliver in the right circumstances. Typically, in a room of 100 intermediaries, fewer than 20 look at seconds as an alternative finance option, on a regular basis. Yet a dozen or so probably use a second charge mortgage for one in 10 of their clients. The Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) should help, but I have a full diary of events right through 2016 to keep spreading the word.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
If I had an unlimited supply of pixie dust, then my wish would be that every single intermediary would ask us for a second charge quote before they arrange a remortgage, in order to see which works best for their client. We’ve achieved some amazing outcomes for people who want to retain lifetime tracker mortgage products or interest-only terms. I just wish that every intermediary understood that seconds rates have tumbled in the last few years.
What do you think is the most important attribute in a good BDM?
I am naturally a very motivated, enthusiastic and energetic person, which certainly helps. Perhaps the most important attribute of all however, is humility. The company doesn’t pay my salary, intermediaries do. In simple terms I create a virtuous circle. If I deliver outstanding service to their clients it will reflect well on the intermediary, and they will give us more business. But I know I can’t get it wrong – not even once. With a direct customer, if you get it wrong you lose a sale. With an intermediary, if you get it wrong you lose the relationship and potentially their future business.
When you’re unavailable to contact via telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
We are always available by phone. I have great people working for me in my team, and we have 65 amazing people in our business.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
That’s an easy one. I would make it compulsory for intermediaries to obtain a second charge mortgage quote before recommending a remortgage. It’s great that the MCD is raising awareness of seconds but there is still a real risk that some clients may not buy the product which best meets their needs, if their intermediary has opted out of advising on seconds.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
To be honest, financial services chose me. I started with The Loans Engine nearly 12 years ago but our business has been trading for 28 years and I learn something new every day. I have run teams on the ‘consumer’ side of our business and had some great times but I love to keep learning, so when I was appointed intermediary operations manager it gave me the chance to open up access of seconds to more customers than ever. The intermediary market is in a different league. When you think they arrange half of all UK mortgages, the need for seconds (among their clients) is enormous.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
I talk to as many of them as I can each day. Communication is everything. I am also very lucky to have an amazing team who are great on the phone. They will always find the right deal for the customer and keep the intermediary up to date at every stage of the process.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
When I was coming up through the ranks, for me a ‘well done’ from the boss or a ‘thank you’ letter from a customer was worth a great deal. And I haven’t forgotten this. I love my job and I like to think I’ve created an environment where my team loves working here too.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
A broker rang me the other day and asked: “If you cross a monkey with a kangaroo, do you get a kanga-monkey or a monkey-roo?” Some of the brokers have a great sense of humour and we always have a laugh, but at least there’s never a dull day.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
Growing up I wanted to be a doctor but I soon came to realise that I would come into contact with questionable body parts, blood and other nasty things. I guess you can say that it wasn’t a terribly well thought out plan – but I love my job, so I’m very happy with how things worked out.