How many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
I work closely with 100 firms and over 450 individual brokers across the Home Counties.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
Diary management is key. I like to allow time in the morning to answer emails so I’m ready for the day ahead, so a typical day starts at 8am on my laptop. I leave the house at 9am to start my first appointment of four in the same geographical area that day. Teeing-up appointments in a close radius reduces travel time and allows me to get back to brokers’ queries in a timely.
What issues come up time and time again?
Some brokers send lots of documents to support an application to try to be helpful. However, this can be counterproductive because it means our underwriters have to review all the documents, which could potentially raise issues requiring further investigation and therefore slowing down the decision-making process.
I’d encourage brokers to hold fire and wait for our underwriters to confirm what evidence they need before sending any documents to us.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
I think most brokers have a good understanding of the basics of what a BDM’s role entails. We have the ability to present complex cases to our underwriting colleagues. The case will be reviewed internally by a number of departments before the final outcome is decided. Ultimately we all want the same goal – getting the application processed – but we sometimes need a bit more time to make it happen.
What do you think is the most important attribute of a good BDM?
You need to be available, honest and personable. I think it’s important to be upfront if I can’t help with a case and suggest other lenders who might. For me, it’s not just about work. I like to get to know a broker on a personal level; I love to hear about people’s family or hobbies. It helps to establish a common ground.
When you’re unavailable to contact by telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
If a broker leaves me a message or drops me an email I will get back to them as quickly as I can. Alternatively, they can contact our Broker Support Team on 0345 1200 866, or use our web-chat facility at accordmortgages.com. Also, brokers can get in touch with the underwriter working on their case, and speak to an underwriter before they submit an application.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
Sometimes when the FCA announces new regulation the details can be ambiguous, leaving it open to interpretation. Therefore I would ensure that whatever the message, it was clear so everyone knows what is required.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
I’ve always liked working with numbers and have been in finance since I left school. I was an intermediary for six years working for a larger broker firm, which I loved because every day was different and I met lots of people. However, I became frustrated being cooped up in an office but wanted to carry on working in the mortgage market, so becoming a BDM was the next natural step. Having been in a broker’s shoes it really gives me an advantage in my current role.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
By establishing a common ground and building trust. It’s important that brokers can rely on you to respond to them within a reasonable timescale. By providing a good service brokers are more likely to come back to you time and time again.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
I’ve been with Accord for just over a year now. In my first week I spent time at head office with different departments to understand how each team works and what I can do to make their lives easier. I’m constantly talking to our business development advisers (BDAs) and underwriters, so I find being personable makes for a good working relationship.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
We recently had a request from a high-end fashion model whose term would take her into standard retirement. Her broker advised that her looks will change as she gets older so this may affect her livelihood, however based on the evidence submitted, we were happy to lend to her.
(Glad Accord took a more enlightened view! Blimey. Ed)
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
As I love numbers I originally wanted to study accountancy. Given the, perhaps unfair, stereotype about accountants being boring I’m glad I chose an alternative career path.