How many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
My region covers all mortgage and bridging broker firms based from Doncaster to Inverness and everywhere in between. The number of advisers is constantly growing but at the last count I would say I support around 250 firms.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
Well, no two days are ever the same in this job as any BDM will tell you. A typical day would incorporate probably three or four appointments and I try to leave good time between each one to deal with calls and emails throughout the day. I am very conscious about being on time for my first appointment otherwise you are playing catch up which just puts pressure on the whole day. There are usually a few tasks to finish off when I get home, so they get done in the evening or first thing the next day with an earlier start.
What issues come up time and time again?
Sometimes I wish I had a clone as I often want to be in two places at once (but I am not sure my partner Lynne would put up with two of me). My role is all about relationships, internal and external, and it can be tricky balancing how often I get to see my key introducers. I would always prefer to discuss new opportunities with them face to face but it is just not possible every time. I also like to be guided by them on how often they would like me coming in to see them and their team. I am fortunate to have a full support function behind me based at head office. We have the very experienced internal sales team on the bridging side and also excellent case managers for both bridging and mortgages who will have regular contact with the introducer from the moment a new case proposal arrives on their desk right through to when the loan completes. Between us we deliver a quick and efficient service with great communication.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
That I do not have a mandate. Most brokers understand that I do not make the credit decisions and can’t overrule the underwriters or our credit department. Saying that, I use my knowledge and experience to build a strong case and will do my best for brokers to get a positive decision if I believe it’s a solid proposal.
What do you think is the most important attribute of a good BDM?
Honesty. There is absolutely no point in promising something you know you can’t deliver or telling your broker something just because you think they want to hear it. Sometimes BDMs have to communicate bad news and the open, honest approach is always best. Being a successful BDM is about building a great reputation with your broker contacts and for me that has been built on honesty and integrity.
When you are unavailable to be contacted by telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
Email is good if I am on the move but for really pressing matters, bridging’s internal sales desk and the mortgage team are both brilliant and can pick things up quickly.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
I have always enjoyed the different skills which are needed to excel as a BDM. As well as being a good salesperson you need to have a strong customer focus and be a real ‘people person’. You get to meet some fantastic characters in my role and that’s one of the highlights. The variety keeps things interesting too. When the phone rings you never really know what the call is going to produce. I like the flexibility of the role and when you have your own area and client bank, you are fully accountable for the results you produce. It’s a great challenge. I made a bold move 21 years ago when I relocated from South London to the North East when I took my first BDM role. I guess you could call me an adopted Geordie now. I have worked hard over those 21 years to establish a strong reputation within the broker community and I would like to think if you asked any of my clients what they thought of me then the words, honest, reliable, conscientious, likeable and knowledgeable might be in there somewhere.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
I like to understand what they expect from me. I do not visit their offices purely for a cup of coffee and a biscuit (although I never turn one down). I want the broker to see me as part of their toolkit, helping them to convert opportunities into sales. I promote UTB’s bridging products as well as mortgages and turning a bridging opportunity into a sale can be tricky, especially for a broker who doesn’t do a lot of bridging business. If I can help them to grow their business by encouraging them to consider bridging opportunities more often and so increase their revenue, they’re always going to be pleased to see me. I might even get two biscuits.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
This can be tricky, especially when you live 290 miles away from the office. I am usually in the London office at least once a month and I try to get along to as many of UTB’s social events as possible. The Bank is great at organising nights out for the staff to mix with other team members and it is amazing how quickly you can get to know people when away from the normal work environment. I try to share my time around the office when I am there. Most time is spent with the bridging and mortgage teams of course but I also like to keep in touch with the credit and marketing teams amongst others. Of course, I am always on the phone and email so it is not as if I am completely cut off.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
Not a very strange question but a common question I am asked is “Are you related to the racing driver?” I do have a brother called Nigel but unfortunately, he is not the famous one.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
A multi-millionaire rock or film star obviously. However, I cannot sing and my acting skills are not up to getting an equity card, so when I was younger I applied to the Surrey fire brigade to be a firefighter instead. Unfortunately I failed the very last stage of the medical so that was the end of that. Shortly afterwards I found myself working for my very first mortgage lender and 28 years later I am still going strong, living the dream, sort of.