How many brokers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
As national account manager for Fleet Mortgages I manage all our head office to head office relationships with networks, mortgage clubs and other national accounts. This means that my car will take a pounding, as I travel extensively to support all these relationships.
How do you successfully organise and manage business on a daily basis?
The most important thing to do is to prioritise while recognising that what might be a lower priority to you is potentially a high priority to the broker. Balancing these successfully is a major skill.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
I am sure brokers know a lot about BDM and national account manager jobs. On a day out with one of Fleet’s BDMs recently I bumped into several brokers who were BDMs/account managers that I had worked with in the past.
What do you think is the most important attribute in a good BDM?
There are many, but I believe that a BDM fundamentally has to add value to the broker’s business – they are there not only to develop business for their lender, but also for the broker.
This can be achieved in many ways – sharing best practice (what other brokers are doing to grow their business), understanding the broker’s business, and making suggestions about product areas which might help them, while also being available to the broker when needed. Finally, excellent listening skills are required.
When you’re unavailable to contact via telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
Apart from the obvious (email, text and such), at Fleet our BDMs have a buddy – an office-based telephone BDM that they work closely with in sales support.
So brokers can get in touch with them too. That way, if the BDM is in a meeting, or on another call, the broker can talk to someone who also knows their business there and then.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
Some of the rules in MCOB and ICOB can appear to be a little vague, and open to interpretation by intermediary firms, on the basis that they must do what is right for their business. While this makes perfect sense in many scenarios, this can sometimes lead to different interpretations and, therefore potentially different outcomes for clients, from firm to firm. It may be worth the FCA looking at being a little more prescriptive on certain issues, so that intermediary firms know exactly what is required and there is no room for error.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
I started out in the mortgage world in the late 80s as a branch manager of a small retail bank, which happened to write a minor percentage of its business via brokers. I found myself loving that part of the job, and quickly established my branch as the top-performing one in the intermediary space. This became handy when the bank decided to close all its branches and become an intermediary-only, centralised lender, and I then became a home-based BDM.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
By building trust and credibility. This can be achieved by doing what you say you are going to do, making yourself available, knowing what you are talking about, and being able to add value to the broker relationship.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
BDMs are usually field-based, and manage to get into their lender office relatively infrequently. It is therefore important to make the most of each trip to the office, thanking colleagues for a job well done, supporting colleagues who may have got a little frustrated, and getting involved in activities.
At Fleet, we have just kicked off five-a-side football and rounders get togethers, so I will be dusting down my old pair of Adidas Sambas very soon.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
Many years ago I worked for a little lender called Western Trust. It was active in the specialist mortgage, secured loan and equity release market in the intermediary world. Its secured loan was known as the Homeowners Equity Loan and one broker asked me if his client needed to own a house in order to qualify.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
My family ran (and still runs) an ice cream business, manufacturing and selling via a fleet of ice cream vans. It was only natural that, having worked in the business during my school holidays, I might go into the business full time.
However, the thought of having to work weekends got in the way of both playing and watching football, so I decided that perhaps it was not for me.