Know Your BDM: Steve Mannakee, West One Loans

  • 04/04/2024
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Know Your BDM: Steve Mannakee, West One Loans
This week, Specialist Lending Solutions is speaking with Steve Mannakee (pictured), national account manager at West One Loans.

Which locations and how many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role at West One Loans?

As national account manager, I look after the key accounts nationally, including Scotland, London and the South East.


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

For me, it’s empathy. As an ex-broker and financial planner, being able to truly understand the challenges our brokers face in their wider role is key to being able to do my job effectively.


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

Probably my IT skills. My kids get fed up with me asking them for help.


What’s the hardest part of your job?

I hate having to say no to any client, because I know it will impact a borrower’s life choices. No lender can say yes to everything of course, particularly when it’s a scenario that falls between the lines of lending criteria.

However, being able to communicate the rationale of why you can’t progress the case to the broker, in a professional, friendly manner, and where possible, even suggesting a potential competitor, is important. I believe in adding value at every opportunity to the broker relationship.


What do you love most about your job?

Being an integral part in someone’s journey to becoming a homeowner, especially when that customer has had the door closed on them by mainstream lenders, which is what we essentially specialise in here at West One. Also, being a big factor in that customer providing referral business to the submitting broker off the back of the feel-good factor we’ve helped to create is wonderful.


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

Tony Andrews, who was my first financial services sales manager as a newly qualified mortgage adviser, told me to make every mortgage planning recommendation as if that customer was my best friend in the world. Simple, but amazing advice.


How do you keep up to date with developments in the market?

My tried and trusted method has always been listening to my brokers. They are the ones at the coalface, with their ear to the ground more than anyone else in our industry. Setting a specific bit of time aside in my diary each week to read through trade press is something I’ve always done, too.


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

A seven-bedroom house in the Cotswolds with an underground swimming pool and a moat. As you can imagine, the valuer struggled with any comparable property with that one.


Tell us about your trickiest case – what happened and how did you resolve the problem(s)?

A number of years ago, when doing a large purchase mortgage for the CEO of a multinational company with offices all over Europe, with the customer flying back to the UK for literally a few hours’ stopover before flying out again. It meant I had to make myself available to do the application forms with him at his home at 2am.

I then had to get the case packaged up early enough that same morning for submission to the lender as soon as it opened. Having to liaise on his behalf with the lender, selling agent, the surveyor and also the conveyancer in his absence, with the added challenge of an exchange deadline of two weeks, made it even more interesting.


What was your motivation for choosing this career?

You could say it was love that got me here. I left sixth form to start a career as an apprentice electrical engineer, but got made redundant 18 months in. I was at a bit of a crossroads work-wise at the time, and my then girlfriend’s brother worked in financial services and suggested I had the required qualities to work in his world. He put me in touch with someone looking for a trainee mortgage adviser. The rest is history, as they say. So, basically it’s all his fault.


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

A part of the job I enjoy is seeing a case come in where it looks like the borrowers may struggle to lend, but working with them, exploring potential options, and finding a solution to reach a positive outcome for the borrower is great.

The closest end-to-end role would be in development finance. I’m fascinated by the process of taking an idea from concept to completion, overcoming challenges and eventually seeing the properties up for sale ready to be loved by their new owners.


What did you want to be growing up?

I was a keen amateur boxer as a teenager and had dreams of turning professional. The trouble was, I wasn’t very good. So, stuntman was my next bright idea. I can still do a forward roll without hurting myself, so I haven’t given up hope.


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

Probably time travel, so that I could go back and spend more time with loved ones no longer here.


What is your strategy for tackling challenges?

Approach every situation, however challenging, visualising that you’ll come out the other end positively.


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

I was once asked the question, “how exactly does the Met Office know the names of all the storms?”. Yes, I know.

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