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Know Your BDM: Claire Askham, Buckinghamshire Building Society

  • 18/09/2020
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This week, Mortgage Solutions is talking to Claire Askham, key account manager at Buckinghamshire Building Society.


What locations and how many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?

My role is key account manager for the North supporting relationships across brokers, mortgage clubs and networks – my area is slightly more than North including East Anglia, West and East Midlands, North West and North East, Humberside and my home county of Yorkshire.


How have you changed the way you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers in the pandemic?

More appointments are being done over the phone or via Zoom, which means that we can contact more brokers in a day, as we are not out on the road, meaning we are more efficient and quicker to respond back to brokers calls.

I do feel the role is even more important now, with cases being tricky to place, and needing to speak to key account managers. With events held remotely as well now, we are all learning how else we can communicate.

However, I am a people person so I’m hoping that we will be back to some sort of normativity in 2021. I had my first face-to-face meeting last week since March it was great to be back in a broker’s office – Covid safe of course.


What personal talent/skill is most valuable in doing your job?

Communication and speed – brokers want a response as soon as possible, and if the answer is a no then as long as we communicate this to them as quick as possible. I aim to be friendly and approachable with my brokers, either over the phone or in a face-to-face situation, building a strong trust with them.


Where would you rather be stuck, in bumper-to-bumper traffic or back-to-back Zoom calls?

Zoom calls for sure – sitting in traffic is not productive although I do get to sing very loudly.


What’s the best bit of career-related advice you’ve ever been given?

When I first started my journey in to financial services I was processing second charge lending applications, each case was a little tricky and not straight forward – a little like today’s market. However, my manager at the time said to me when looking at an application, if you think that you would lend the money yourself, then you know the case has merits and to always go with your feeling. This has helped me in so many ways, even more so with cases now not always being straight forward as it helps me know when I can push a case for the right reasons.


What is the most quirky/unique property deal you’ve been involved in?

One that really sticks out for me was where the applicant ran a small business from the property growing herbs. Although there was a large number of acres, all that they had was a really lovely extra big garden, however there were issues with it being used for business purposes.


What has been your lockdown coping strategy?

Being on my bike – this has really kept me going and helped me keep positive and healthy. I was very lucky to have a good friend lend me a bike as she knew that I could not go spinning anymore. If someone had asked me about cycling before lockdown I would have laughed and said no way, but I’m now hooked; there is nothing better than going out and doing a 20 mile ride.


If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?

I would try to make the FCA a little more approachable. It can sometimes strike fear in brokers and I don’t think it should be like that. I think this would make brokers and regulators work together better to resolve issues – that’s got to be better.


What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?

I fell into financial services back in 2000, working for First National Bank. It was from then that I really got the buzz, and I was hooked.

I have worked in lots of areas in financial services which has really helped as it has given me an understanding of the different areas and helped me understand both broker and lender’s view.


If you could do any other job in the property sector, what would it be and why?

I’m very nosey – so I guess it would be an estate agent – being able to look in people’s homes and see how well they have decorated them.


What did you want to be growing up?

I always wanted to be a nurse, but I soon changed my mind and then wanted to be a dancer although I changed my mind so many times I don’t really think that I had a plan.


What’s your favourite face mask design/pattern to wear?

At the moment I have one with stars on I keep looking to see what other trendy masks are out there.


And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

I was always told that there is no such thing as a strange question – although I think I sometimes ask a few.


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