Sponsored by MTF, the bridging finance provider, the MTF Greenhouse aims to provide an area where every member of staff is given the opportunity to reach their full potential while working in a happy and professional environment, said Brightstar.
The Greenhouse has now been ‘upgraded’ with a coaching area, new resources and plans for various people development programmes, including ‘Leading from the Middle’, Brightstar’s training programme for middle managers in the business.
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) logs, and portfolios of evidence are available to staff in the room, which are a collection of documents compiled to show competence against a set of learning outcomes.
Clare Jupp, director of people development at Brightstar said: “Our partnership with MTF sits perfectly with our whole teaching and learning ethos. Indeed, MTF’s strapline of ‘building relationships’ perfectly complements our idea of ‘growing people’, while their key aims of ‘we listen, we work with you and we keep it simple’ sits perfectly with our values of openness, supporting one another and making it easy for intermediaries.”
Jupp added: “The key to every great company is happy, productive and knowledgeable employees and retaining them requires a culture of growth, recognition and opportunity. The ‘greenhouse’ will help us to continue growing great employees, because better people equals better business.”
‘Cutting the ribbon’ on behalf of MT Finance was Millie Dyson, head of marketing who met staff visitors to the MTF Greenhouse during the day.
Millie Dyson, head of marketing and communications at MTF, said: “Our partnership with Brightstar epitomises our commitment to building relationships and we are delighted to be supporting this element of Brightstar’s training and development.
“On a more personal note, it is Brightstar’s commitment to promoting gender equality in the workplace through their approach to people development that is truly admirable.
“Brightstar have female representation at all levels of the business. Jo and Gina, two of Brightstar’s top business consultants, are excellent role models and it is fantastic to see women being championed in the workplace.”
Brightstar people development case studies
Brightstar, which has 44 members of staff, is an Investor in People Gold Business and holds the title of ‘Global Investors in People Gold Employer of the year.
Gina Blagden, head of residential, Brightstar
Gina Blagden started as head of residential, replacing Chris Bramham in February 2017 after five years with the firm and a background in underwriting, she won Brightstar’s top consultant in her first year on the job in 2015.
The ‘family feel’ at the firm, staff treatment, appreciation, reward, recognition and flexibility are all key to Brightstar’s successes with staff retention, says Blagden, who took maternity leave for 14 months and was never pushed on a restart date by the company. Training sessions earn certificates and the Brightstar employee of the month wins a trophy, which all adds to the feeling that you are valued as an employee, she says.
Asked on her recent broker successes, Blagden outlines an expat case where the client didn’t have ID certified in the correct way, so the Brightstar BDM raised it with the lender’s head office and managed to get a conditional offer for the broker for the client.
“The client was really happy, the broker was happy and we got a really lovely email in return. The broker started angrily, but we managed to turn it round.”
Blagden is part of Brightstar’s ‘Women into Management’ programme and also helps other staff members progress as a learning champion.
Darren Perry, head of second charge mortgages, Brightstar
Perry joined the firm five years ago after 17 years in financial services as a business owner and mortgage and protection broker. Perry replaced Bradley Moore who was promoted to MD in the last few days.
Perry expects the second charge sector will continue to be a slow burn. “Until brokers understand the advice they are providing this will always be a product of last resort. They should be considered as a first choice instead of remortgage and the more lenders can innovate, that’ll help,” he says.
“It’s not just about rates. There are things you can’t get from seconds you can from mortgages. I think it’s about really aligning the two products. Innovation is going to be the key to getting buy in from brokers – once we have identical product suites to firsts with different rates, I think you’ll get a lot more buy in,” he says.
Perry leads on the buddy scheme at Brightstar, which encourages cross-divisional business development, for example, allowing the residential, seconds and bridging consultants to work together on cases when needed. He also leads on consultant’s CPD logs and recently started preparing to take CeMap level 4 qualification and piloting it for the business, which has meant an hours work a night over three months. One of his other colleagues has already signed up.
“I’m enjoying it, I’m half-way through and have the AMA Exam this month and just want to do it now. I am tired of reading but have always enjoyed the learning process,” he says.
The single exam structure is such an improvement on Cemap, he adds, with 50 multiple choice questions, but a case study for the second part allowing brokers to apply their practical knowledge. The case study can be up to 4,000 words and completed over several weeks and in this case was about buying a holiday home and leaving an investment for the buyer’s children.
Jo Logan, business consultant, Brightstar
Jo Logan was Rob Jupp’s PA for years in previous roles after first meeting him through her job in advertising sales at the Evening Echo. She joined Brightstar as an administrator on the bridging and commercial side in 2014 after a rigorous interview process from Rob Collins, who was then Brightstar’s director of commercial finance.
Logan knew the bridging side was where she wanted to be due to in her words, the “bang, bang, bang” pace and has since risen to become a business consultant on the bridging team in January 2015, then winning top consultant of the year in 2016.
Logan admits she had to be coaxed to ramp up her skills at first.
“It’s a big change but as admin support, you pick up so much. I was always comfortable if the guys were away to hold the fort. As you grow in that role, you learn so fast and having the admin as a base is useful which is why it’s great to grow employees in-house. Then you also understand the pressures in turn on the admin side making it an excellent base to start from,” she says.
“But anything you do that’s positive here never goes unnoticed,” she adds.