What has the last 12 months taught us in terms of the services we provide, particularly to our appointed representative (AR) firms?
Do they now need everything we thought they did pre-pandemic? How has the environmental shift changed their requirements?
Other businesses, perhaps most notably lenders, have clearly been doing the same.
There appears to be a focus specifically on the role of the lender business development manager (BDM) in a world in which. firstly, face-to-face adviser visits have not been able to happen, and secondly, where going forward large numbers of advisers might not wish them to happen.
Replaced by remote functions
On the face of it, the latter point might be taken by some lenders to mean BDMs are surplus to requirements.
Indeed, we’ve already seen personnel cuts across a variety of operations – some advisers will no longer have a BDM contact at all, instead having to rely on ‘Live Chat’ systems or their calls and emails going into a central pool where it may, or may not, be answered.
We believe this to be incredibly short-sighted for any number of reasons, not least the fact that it fails to understand the real value of BDMs (at least the good ones,) and what they can deliver, particularly in a complicated, competitive, nuanced marketplace.
Lenders that have already cut BDM roles appear to think of these individuals as nothing more than travelling salesmen who, without the offices to travel to anymore, are now defunct.
Think David Brent in his ‘Life on the Road’ phase – what happens when the roads are closed?
Service more invaluable than ever
When, in effect, good quality BDMs are worth their weight in gold. And lo, the better the BDM you work with, the more likely you are to place greater amounts of business with that lender.
Advisers need exceptional BDMs more than ever and having that direct communication with a lender representative who knows their stuff, who gets the broker market, who can respond quickly, move cases forward or give a definitive answer, is without doubt a huge advantage for adviser and lender alike.
As mentioned, our market is now incredibly nuanced. The introduction of furlough income, self-employed changes, payment holidays, more complex requirements and needs, can all warrant the need for exchanges with BDMs.
We’re not talking about the bread and butter information that can be found within the criteria pages, but those cases where a simple delve into criteria isn’t enough.
There are more and more of these nowadays. Hence the need for that lender point of contact who is willing and able to get you to where you want to be.
The days of BDMs nipping in for a coffee and a chat may well be over. In fact, you might argue that pre-pandemic they were already on their way out. But the days of BDMs who can add value, respond quickly and communicate effectively, are definitely not.
Lenders who cull their BDMs do so at their peril.