How many brokers and broker firms do you cover in your role?
I am responsible for broker relationships for the East of Scotland. I cover approximately 300 firms and 700 brokers over a large geographical area.
How do you successfully organise and deal with business on a daily basis?
One of the biggest and most important challenges of the role is organisation. I have to make sure that my diary is filled two to three weeks in advance to give me the flexibility to do the job right. This frees up time on a daily basis to deal with incoming calls and emails without worrying where my next appointment will be. I also need to keep an eye on who is doing business with us as well as potential business opportunities.
What issues come up time and time again?
The biggest challenge just now is around the accuracy of declared rental income. It’s important that both customers and brokers get this right to allow us to make the correct lending decisions. This is an education piece that is slowly but surely starting to come together, but one that will no doubt be ongoing.
What do you wish brokers understood about your job?
I think most brokers get it – the BDM role is similar to theirs in terms of the amount of hours you put in. One thing that may be misunderstood is my ability to get an instant answer on a case. Most of the time I have to go through the same channels they do to get an update. We’ve recently launched a new mortgage portal that has a very intuitive and proactive case tracker which will help with this type of query.
What do you think is the most important attribute in a good BDM?
I believe a good BDM will have many important attributes including being responsive to brokers’ needs, being knowledgeable in their field and having the ability to leave brokers feeling glad that they met or spoke with the BDM.
Most importantly though, is honesty. Brokers don’t like time wasters – if you can’t help then tell them. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t know and get them the answer.
When you’re unavailable to contact via telephone, what’s the second-best way for brokers to get in touch?
We have a three-pronged approach when it comes to contact. If I am unavailable then brokers can speak to their telephone BDM Chris Nicholls or contact our service centre directly.
If you were head of the FCA for the day, what would you change about regulation in the mortgage industry?
Where do I start? To be fair the buy-to-let industry has taken a bit of a battering over the last couple of years, between Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) regulation and taxation, so I would start there for sure. The private rental sector is needed more now than ever so I would look to enhance the underwriting standards set out by the FCA/PRA to allow greater flexibility – not only for portfolio landlords but for landlords in general.
What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career?
I have worked within the intermediary market for nearly 15 years, so it has always felt that business development was a natural step for me. I worked as a telephone BDM at Scottish Widows Bank for six years which allowed me to learn what it would take to be a business development manager. I have always been motivated to help brokers see the benefit of having a BDM – be it turning a case around or starting a relationship that grows into something that is not only beneficial to the bank but to the broker and client alike.
How do you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers?
Be yourself. For me, you should be able to find a common ground with every person you meet. If you can do this then you can start a relationship. To maintain the relationship then you have to be consistent; return calls and be honest with the broker.
And how do you establish and maintain good relationships internally?
Arguably this is just as important as creating long lasting external relationships. My job would be far more difficult if I didn’t have the relationships I have internally which allow me to pick up the phone to our processors, underwriters or valuers. It can’t be one way, you have to be able to acknowledge the help you have been given and reciprocate where you can. Having a laugh along the way definitely helps too.
What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
When I worked at Scottish Widows Bank I was asked if we would accept a graduation certificate as proof they could apply for our graduate mortgage scheme…It didn’t seem strange until they sent in their framed graduation photo of them holding their certificate.
And finally, what did you want to be growing up?
Like most kids growing up in a council area if you weren’t playing football you were watching football. I always wanted to make it as a pro and one day play for Scotland. Aye, so that worked out then.