Know Your BDM: Jack Gerasimov, Foundation

Know Your BDM: Jack Gerasimov, Foundation

 

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

I have recently been promoted to join our field sales team and am currently looking after 1,138 brokers in the south region.

 

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

The methods of building trusted relationships have not changed that much apart from the obvious inability to meet face-to-face. As before, for me it’s all about being there for the brokers – being transparent and accountable is the key.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?

Time management – I always keep a good time balance to make sure I am contacting as many brokers as I can in a day, while keeping up with the incoming phone calls, Teams meetings and e-mail enquiries. And last but not least, to make sure I’m finished in time for dinner with my growing family.

 

What personal talent would you most like to improve on?

I’m pretty famous for growing increasingly impressive moustaches for Movember, and my dad-dancing could use some work, but I believe you can continue to improve on any level of talent or skill, and I treat every day as an opportunity to do so.

 

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

That’s a tough one. Working from home since March I do miss field work, even if it does mean being stuck in the traffic. I’m looking forward to the time when we’re able to do both.

 

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

Where one door closes, another opens.

 

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

I have quite a few. I enjoy dealing with large portfolio cases, they come with a variety of different properties and variety of different challenges.

 

What has been your lockdown coping strategy?

Exercise: run, walk, cycle…move as much as possible.

 

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

I wouldn’t, at least not without consultation from a range of other parties. As far as I am concerned, things are working well so why change it?

 

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

I was always good at it and enjoyed communicating with people, while my main drive is helping to solve issues and challenges. So, it was a no-brainer.

 

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

CEO of Foundation Home Loans, to truly understand what it is like to run a large, successful and rapidly growing company.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

An astronaut, just like every other little boy in Russia back then.

 

What’s your favourite face mask design to wear?

Well, the one with Foundation Home Loans logo of course. Always ready to represent.

 

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

Once or twice I was asked if it’s true that bears walk on the streets of Russia.

 

 

Know Your BDM: Emma Evenett, Leeds Building Society

Know Your BDM: Emma Evenett, Leeds Building Society

 

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

I’m based on the south coast and look after around 1,000 brokers in the Salisbury, West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight areas.

 

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

As a team we’ve focused on being creative and finding the best solutions that work well for brokers. I’ve found phone calls really help to maintain those relationships and I’ve also been making use of Zoom for meetings. It’s about being flexible and adapting to individual needs because what works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?

I think I am quite empathetic. I really like to listen and understand somebody’s problem and how I can help a broker’s client. For me, it’s really about helping people.

 

What personal skill would you most like to improve on?

I only started this role in lockdown, so I’m really looking forward to being able to get out and about to meet more people when it’s safe for us all to do so.

 

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

Zoom calls, because it’s comfier and warmer.

 

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

Do the jobs you don’t want to do first. Simple advice, but I find it really works.

 

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

A three-storey property next to a stream. It was seen as a flood risk but I managed to find a solution which allowed the broker to help his client.

 

What has been your lockdown coping strategy?

Going outside for walks. I’ve found getting outdoors and setting aside time for a break really beneficial.

 

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

I would cut back on jargon to help ensure vulnerable customers get the best service and support on offer.

 

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

Being able to offer brokers the support they need to help their clients have the home they want. Working together to find solutions and being able to show how different products can help different people’s needs is what motivates me.

 

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

I’d be an estate agent. I just really love property and helping people find homes.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to be a singer, but that was perhaps a bit ambitious.

 

What’s your favourite face mask design to wear?

Can I have two? I’ve got a black one that goes with everything and a white and grey polka dot one.

 

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

I don’t think there’s a strange question, to be honest. I’m happy to answer any questions.

 

Know Your BDM: Victoria Shepherd, Metro Bank

Know Your BDM: Victoria Shepherd, Metro Bank

 

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

I cover parts of Yorkshire and the North West, supporting around 500 advisers in numerous firms.

 

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

Although we have had to adapt to interacting with brokers remotely, our focus has always remained on being available by phone and email to help with enquiries and deliver support to our intermediary partners, along with bite-size webinars and top tips to ensure applications are turned around quickly.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?

My communication skills give me the ability to talk to anyone about anything – and being nosey helps. I tend to always have a smile on my face and try to build a trusting and warm relationship with brokers.

 

What personal talent would you most like to improve on?

My chocolate intake… I must remember that chocolate is not a food group.

 

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

Definitely back-to-back Zoom calls; it’s the new way of life for many BDMs and the virtual world allows us to interact with more brokers than we would have done while on the road – the more the merrier.

 

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

My grandad always used to say that the most important thing to remember in life is ‘if you fall off the horse, get up and get back on’. Growing up with horses, this was definitely meant in more ways than one, but I have always used this to remain perseverant in every aspect of my career.

 

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

A zoo. I was lucky enough to be a special guest keeper for a day (to assess the business) and I was given the chance to feed a whole array of amazing animals from lions through to penguins and rhinos – safe to say that was the best day in work ever. I will admit that I did consider all ways possible to fit a baby rhino into the back of my car.

 

What has been your lockdown coping strategy?

Nothing beats fresh air up a fell in the Lake District or a peak in the Yorkshire Dales. I am fortunate to have these wonderful places on my doorstep and have spent as much time as possible in the great outdoors since March, whether out walking the dog, on a tractor or finding a good view to watch the world go by.

 

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

I would aim to deliver a structured training programme for advisers who are new to the industry, which would enable clear recognition and reward for hard work and determination.

 

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

My school report always said ‘Victoria talks too much’ so what better choice of career than as a BDM, where I get to speak to lovely brokers for a living. Every day is a school day for me and I believe I learn from every person I speak to. I love the fact that no two days are the same as a BDM and it’s always satisfying when I am able to find a solution for brokers who have a tricky case to place.

 

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

I would be a new build site manager; I have been fortunate to see first-hand the joy on a customer’s face when collecting keys to their brand new home. To be able to play such a crucial part in every step of the build, ensuring quality workmanship, organisation of labour and safety standards would be fantastic – the fun and banter the teams have on site would also be a bonus.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

Most young girls dream of being a princess… I wanted to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones.

 

What’s your favourite face mask design to wear?

My favourite is grey with white stars but I am very tempted to get something silly to make people smile.

 

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

A broker once asked me if I liked eggs – he then proceeded to throw an egg at his wife while on the phone to me. Turns out his wife had thrown one at him earlier and he was waiting for the prime opportunity to strike back when she least expected it. Safe to say the three of us were in hysterics.

 

 

 

Know your BDM – Michael Brown, Skipton Building Society

Know your BDM – Michael Brown, Skipton Building Society

 

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

I cover the London region, which includes the illustrious EC post code and I support roughly 1,300 brokers across my patch. 

 

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

As a business development manager (BDM) team, I think we have been creative during this pandemic and focused on providing clear communication throughout. My colleagues and I have run several, successful webinarsI have also focused on the topics which are the most common themes brokers are looking for answers about.  

  

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

I consider myself a people person and I believe understanding and building relationships is the most valuable element of this job. 

  

What personal talent/skill would you most like to improve on? 

I am keen on self-development, which is why I always take the time to review my weeks performance and behaviours and then look to improve on that the following week. 

  

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

To be fair, I haven’t yet got Zoom fatigue, perhaps it’s because there is variety in the types of meetings that I attend. So, I say backtoback Zoom calls. 

  

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

Treat others like how you would like to be treated. Pretty simple really, but how many people adhere to that? 

  

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

I got one where the security property was with another lender. It was down as a house, but the applicant had knocked it down and turned it to a couple of flats. Suffice to say, it was not one that we accepted. 

  

What has been your lockdown coping strategy? 

Breaking up the day is key, which helps keep the focus. I try and go to the gym at lunch times, which then keeps me motivated and focused for the rest of the day.  

  

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

would try and find more ways to support the most vulnerable customers and put this as my number one priority.  

  

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

It suits my skill set, I enjoy helping and supporting brokers grow their business, through relationships. I have also always had that solutiondriven mindset. I am passionate about getting more people into homeownership. 

  

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

I would say property developer, although it can be very stressful. Equally it can be very rewarding and being able to create more homes for people to live in can only be a good thing.  

  

What did you want to be growing up? 

When I was young, I wanted to be a pilot as I was fortunate enough to travel from a young age. So got the bug early and really enjoyed the whole experience, from the airport to the onboarding and flight experience.  

  

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

Plain old black, although I have seen some in traditional African tribal colours and they look cool. 

  

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

Personally, I don’t believe in strange questions, I think we must first seek to understand, then to be understood. 

Know Your BDM: Phil Lawford, Tipton and Coseley Building Society

Know Your BDM: Phil Lawford, Tipton and Coseley Building Society

 

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

I cover several hundred firms and advisers across the Midlands and also key accounts for the society around the country.

 

How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers? 
It is important to be able to engage with brokers in whichever medium suits them best and to try and ensure I am adding value to their day.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job? 
Patience and listening; remember you are there for your brokers not the other way around.

 

What personal skill would you most like to improve on?  

I am a strong believer in personal development to ensure I can be as effective in my role as possible, particularly in the current Covid-19 circumstances.

 

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

I’ll never forget when a colleague taught me to meet people at their map of the world instead of my own. In other words, to try and see things from their perspective even if you don’t necessarily agree with them; it’s stood me in good stead over the years.

 

What is the most interesting/memorable property deal you’ve been involved in?

After being involved in the mortgage industry for over 30 years there has been so many but I find self-build and renovation projects the most rewarding and memorable when you help get them over the line.

 

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

I would like to ensure that the later life lending market is better served and continues to evolve; working for an active lender in this sector I’m conscious we have an aging population and it’s currently an underserved area.

 

What was your motivation for choosing this industry as a career?

I joined a local building society as a cashier aged 18 and progressed from there working in a variety of roles to where I am today.

 

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

I would like to work for the FCA or PRA to help drive positive change

 

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to play guitar in an indie rock band.

 

 

Know Your BDM: Claire Askham, Buckinghamshire Building Society

Know Your BDM: Claire Askham, 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.

 

Know Your BDM: Michael Blake, BM Solutions

Know Your BDM: Michael Blake, BM Solutions

 

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

My typical patch covers roughly 700 advisers, 275 brokers within the North West region. Obviously we’re not travelling at the moment, but we’re still doing everything we can to continue providing the best possible service.

 

How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?

I have a genuine interest in my brokers and the business they have set up, and my passion is to be there to offer help and guidance wherever I can. As you can expect the relationship has been slightly different in the current environment. Although returning phone calls has always been a priority, it’s more important than ever at the moment to get back to brokers promptly and guide them in whatever way I can.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?

I think in this role determination is most valuable – we come against several challenges on a daily basis, which is part of the job, so being determined, and having a ‘can do’ attitude really helps.

 

What personal skill would you most like to improve on?

I’m really committed to my own personal development and making sure that am the best BDM I can be so that I can help and support the team and brokers through continually maintaining and updating my knowledge of the mortgage market.

 

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

The best bit of advice I have received, both in career and life is to ‘always go with your gut instinct’. This has helped me in my career as I left a role as branch manager with a previous company to join Lloyds Banking Group as a mortgage adviser. Although that was a step back in my career, I trusted my gut and that led me to where I am now, as becoming a BDM has always been my goal.

 

What is the most memorable property deal you’ve been involved in?

The most memorable property deal I have been involved in was supporting a broker who had issues with a case that had been declined by underwriting. After listening to both sides I managed to obtain enough supporting documents to get this case agreed and moved through to the mortgage offer stage that day. It was the most memorable as it helped me build a strong relationship with that broker and build trust which still runs to this day.

 

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

Wow – what a question, and what responsibility. I wouldn’t change much. I feel that sheer volume of regulatory change over the last few years has been enough to keep the sector busy enough at the moment.

 

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

As simple as it may sound, I have always been really good at getting on with people and being able to make relationships with new people. That really is what this job is about. I also have 13 years’ experience of working within the mortgage industry. I have seen how it has changed and developed over the years, but also how it has stayed the same in many respects.

 

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

I really love working in the property industry, so think I would have been a surveyor. If not for any reason, but to be able to see the different types of properties and construction in this country.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

I had ambitions of travelling the world, and leading a jet-set lifestyle, so I really wanted to be a pilot.  Instead I became a BDM – it’s almost the same.

 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It would have been to fly or teleport, I can’t stand long flights and that would help me see the world a lot quicker.

 

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

“Do you do reverse freehold?” In 13 years of being in this industry I had never heard about it.

 

Obituary: Eddie Smith, early stalwart of BTL and broker distribution, dies aged 73

Obituary: Eddie Smith, early stalwart of BTL and broker distribution, dies aged 73

 

He joined the broker and specialist lending centred Britannia initiative in 1997 as the early buy-to-let (BTL) market developed in the 1990s.

Verso’s products quickly gave the lender a regular top five BTL volume position.

Unfortunately, Britannia directors listened too much to regular tabloid speculation about the imminent meltdown of this market and insisted on culling BTL lending.

Perhaps Britannia would have been here today had it continued to back Verso, rather than focussing on sub-prime lending through its Platform subsidiary?

 

Building society career

Eddie started at Leicester Building Society in 1977.

After management roles there he joined National Home Loans in 1985, focussing on the rapidly developing intermediary market.

Regional management roles followed at Norwich and Peterborough, Bristol and West, and West Bromwich Building Societies, before his move to Britannia.

Subsequent career moves were to packager commercial groupings the Alliance of Mortgage Packagers and Distributors (AMPD), and the Professional Mortgage Packagers Alliance (PMPA), before retirement in 2009.

 

Ahead of his time

Eddie was a pioneer of professional sales management. He was ahead of his time in seeing the potential in broker distribution and the aggregation role packagers could play.

A great mentor who could be tough at times, he will be remembered for his humour, down to earth humanity and the twinkle in his eye.

Many of his business development managers (BDMs) have gone on to senior sales and relationship management roles.

He was a great socialiser and networker – many will have fond memories of the various events he hosted.

His contribution to the intermediary sector was considerable.

He died on 31 July aged 73 after a long and difficult struggle with Alzheimer’s and leaves wife June, twins Robert and Nichola and several grandchildren.

 

Know Your BDM: Chris Parr, MT Finance

Know Your BDM: Chris Parr, MT Finance

 

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

My role with MT Finance covers the Midlands and north of England. It is hard to give an exact number of firms I work with as it increases week by week.

 

How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?

When you cover such a large geographical area as I do, it is important not to miss any follow-up calls. Lockdown has shown more than ever that communication and regular conversations are key to keeping deals alive and up-to-date.

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?

I am organised and patient. Perfectionism certainly helps too.

 

What personal skill would you most like to improve on?

Social media plays such an important role within our industry and I would love to improve my social media presence and interaction. Thankfully, the team at MT Finance are fantastic at this, providing invaluable assistance and guidance.

 

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

Always trust your gut instinct. It is never wrong – something I have learnt when I have gone against it in the past.

 

What is the most memorable property deal you’ve been involved in?

All deals with a tight deadline are memorable but one in particular stands out where I helped fund a deal for a developer where the clients were based in three countries. The deal was fairly straightforward but I was on the phone for four days solid to various people in different parts of the world to make sure the solicitors advised and returned documents so that the deal could complete on time. I am pleased to say it did.

 

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

Thankfully, I work more on the non-regulated side of the market so I will leave regulation to the experts on this matter.

 

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

I love meeting people and problem solving so this is the perfect role.

 

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

I would be a builder. With all the property conversions I help fund I get to see some fantastic transformations of skill and imagination.

 

What did you want to be growing up?

Like many young boys, I wanted to be a footballer.

 

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Time travel. It would make the working week so much easier if I could avoid the regular traffic jams.

 

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

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

 

Rising Star: Rebecca Poole, Tipton & Coseley Building Society

Rising Star: Rebecca Poole, Tipton & Coseley Building Society

 

What does your role entail and how long have you been doing it?  

As the marketing manager, I am responsible for implementing the marketing strategy for the society together with our  marketing administrator.  

We look after all external communications, including social media and are currently building the society’s online presence. We are also responsible for product set up and management, which keeps us very busy.  

 

What attracted you to working in the mortgage finance sector?  

I really like what a building society stands for and enjoy working for a mutual organisation. While the regulation can be challenging at times, it also helps in terms of structure and planning. 

 

What were you doing in the five years before starting here?  

In 2015, I finished university with a first class degree with honours in business management. I actually started with the society as a marketing assistant in 2015 and went on to complete my postgraduate in digital marketing.  

I then worked for a gymwear company based in Solihull as part of their digital marketing team. When I was offered the marketing manager role at the society, I was happy to return.  

 

What personal skill is most valuable in doing your job?  

Timekeeping and prioritisation. Being a regional society, as a marketing manager I wear many hats compared to organisations with larger teams.  

In order to make sure we get everything completed on time, and still plan for new projects it’s really important to keep on top of my workload and plan accordingly.  

 

What personal skill would you most like to improve on?  

Being able to say no. As a small team, we are often asked to do a lot of things, and I always find it hard to say no when we’re too busy. It’s a skill I could do with improving. 

 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?  

During the next five years, I would like to progress further in my career with the society and become head of marketing. I would also like to see the marketing team grow in size to meet the future growth plans of the society.  

 

If present day you could go back in time and tell yourself something five years ago, what would it be?  

Don’t give up. Keep working hard and pushing for what you want and always remember that without supporting data, it’s just an opinion. 

  

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve tackled so far in your career?  

I find that being aspirational and taking a manager role in my 20s can be challenging. Experience comes with time, but I do feel my age sometimes gets seen as a disadvantage both when I have applied for management roles in the past and in gaining authority or credibility.  

 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  

Transportation. I hate commuting to work and I’m not a very confident flyer so if I could just click my fingers and be anywhere that I wanted to be, that would be amazing. 

 

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

Is a coconut a nut or a fruit?