This week, Specialist Lending Solutions is talking to Sophie Mitchell-Charman, business development manager for Northern England at LendInvest.
How many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
I am responsible for 77 broker firms, tied predominantly to the North East, but I’m also looking after some intermediaries in East Anglia.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
As I have only recently joined LendInvest, at the moment I’m concentrating on speaking to people and building relationships, both internally and externally. There’s not exactly a set structure because I’m out and about a lot; diary management is key, I have to make sure there’s plenty of time to follow up on meetings.
Which issues come up time and time again?
It’s abundantly clear from the conversations I have with brokers on a daily basis just how important good service standards are. Brokers remember which lenders let them down.
Local expertise is also enormously important. Lots of lenders and surveyors are so used to the South and South East that they almost view the North East as uncharted waters. I know that can be very frustrating for intermediaries.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
The level of enquiries we get on a day-to-day basis. As much as I’m keen on going back to people straight away, there are 70 other people doing the same thing. I want to be able to deliver a solid answer, but sometimes it takes a little longer to get that answer.
What do you think is the most important attribute of a good BDM?
Being reliable is enormously important. A big frustration I hear a lot is when brokers leave lots of messages but never hear anything back. I may not always be able to say yes, but I will always get back to my brokers.
When you’re unavailable by telephone, what’s the best way for brokers to get in touch?
Email is always good, or they can always contact Michael Minnie as he is office-based.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
I think there’s some work to be done on improving the clarity of communication that comes from the regulator. I remember how much confusion there was around consumer buy to let, and exactly what fell within that definition.
Why did you choose business development as a career?
I used to be a broker, so I have been around the mortgage market for a while now. I loved the industry, but being a BDM appealed as it meant I could avoid being in the same office all the time, instead travelling to different places and seeing different people every day.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
You have to be yourself and just be completely honest. It’s vital that you deliver on your promises.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
I think the key is communication and understanding each other’s job roles. I went and sat in each different team when I joined LendInvest, and that means I have a better idea of what they do, how cases proceed through the departments and where to go if certain issues crop up. As I’m not in the office every day, it’s important that I am available to talk to the rest of the team, keeping in contact with them and answering any questions they might have.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
I was asked to lend on a barge once. The client did let it out like a house, but it was still a barge.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
I have always wanted to be a forensic pathologist. That’s probably why I love crime shows on TV.