Know Your BDM: Zeenat Shaffi, Gatehouse Bank

Know Your BDM: Zeenat Shaffi, Gatehouse Bank


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

I cover parts of central and south London and the whole of the South East region. I look after 150 broker firms with approximately 230 broker relationships.


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

Understanding a broker’s business is fundamental to establishing good relationships. It allows me to adapt the level of support I provide in a way that suits them and their business.

Communication is also key: keeping them updated and providing training and guidance when they need it and also just picking up the phone to them or calling when things don’t go according to plan.

Also, being proactive and acting as a bridge between brokers and the bank, whilst making it easier and simpler to do business with us. That includes helping them with the systems and talking through the case. Managing brokers’ expectations is critical and is something that is really appreciated, because it helps save time in the long run.


What personal talent is most valuable in doing your job?

Being able to relate to people, and being approachable. It is valuable in understanding the banks, the criteria and products, systems and process, to ensure the broker has trust in my abilities. They are trusting you with their business and clients. Being a talker also helps, although some may say that’s the reason for their headache.


What personal skills would you most like to improve on?

I would like to develop a better sense of direction, I rely too heavily on Google Maps and I am constantly getting lost. Whilst everyone builds a contingency and allowance for traffic and delays for their journey, I have to build in an extra one.


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

Great things never come from comfort zones.


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

I have been very fortunate to be involved in various and different deals. My best so far has been a development finance deal for a client who was completely knocking down two houses to make a large home. I was overseeing the whole deal from start to finish and seeing it transform from two average houses to a massive bespoke home. Knowing that I helped make it happen was great.


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

There needs to be a better balance between regulation and customer journey. The overall process at times can be quite daunting and scary for consumers.


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

I love the idea that I am part of a department which is instrumental in the overall growth of the business. I still get a thrill from coming out of a meeting, knowing that you have really helped support people with their business. It’s also very satisfying to see the value you have added to the bank when those relationships and businesses have grown; especially when a new broker comes back to do repeat business.


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

I would like to be a commercial finance manager. Whilst I have been involved in some elements of this previously I’d like to be able to have a bigger focus in this area.


What did you want to be growing up?

A lawyer — it seems to have all the qualities I thrive on, lots of challenges, meeting and assisting people to the point that it makes a real difference in their lives and make some profound changes. It requires a lot of analytical and logical thinking and focuses on finding solutions.


If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Superficially to know my handbag will always match my shoes. But on a serious note, having the ability to heal would be a pretty cool power to have.


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

I was once asked in an interview, if I was to be a fruit, what it would be and why. I just couldn’t think of any fruit that would link to the role I had applied for and still don’t think I could answer that question to this day. I left the interview very puzzled.

United Trust Bank makes key bridging enhancements

United Trust Bank makes key bridging enhancements


It said the move would lower the costs for borrowers and making bridging finance more accessible to a wider range of customers.

The key changes are: 

These changes have been rolled-out to the wider market following a six week pilot phase which included a small number of close broker partners”.

Mike Walters, head of sales for mortgages and bridging, (pictured) said: Feedback throughout was that the cost reductions and speed improvements brought about by the use of dual legal representation and increased use of AVMs were very well received by the brokers and customers hence UTB’s decision to roll them out across the board.

Gavin Diamond, commercial director – bridging, added: “Such feedback is invaluable in helping us to continually improve and refine what we do as we ensure our specialist short-term loans continue to meet the changing needs of brokers and borrowers.” 


Newcastle Intermediaries appoints national account manager

Newcastle Intermediaries appoints national account manager


Francesco Di Petro (pictured) has been with Newcastle Building Society and its intermediary team for 12 years, most recently in the role of business development manager for the North and Scotland.

Di Petro said: “I love working for Newcastle Building Society and I’m really excited by the opportunity to work with our key accounts on a more strategic level, strengthening our established relationships while identifying new opportunities.”

Following the announcements of the appointments of Stephen Breen and Rebecca Roberts earlier this month, the lender said it is demonstrating its commitment to the intermediary sector by growing its BDM team and introducing the national account manager role.

Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, said: “The knowledge, passion and drive to succeed which Frankie brings to the role will be vital as we continue to work more closely with our intermediary partners to achieve our long-term objectives.”


Redwood appoints two BDMs

Redwood appoints two BDMs

Young has nearly 40 years’ experience in the banking industry, most recently working as commercial relationship manager at Metro Bank.

Carter boasts 16 years’ experience in the banking industry, having held roles with Metro Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland in the past.

The new BDMs follow the recruitment of Alan Brown to the post of chief risk officer back in May.

Gary Wilkinson (pictured), chief executive officer and co-founder of Redwood Bank, noted that when the lender comes across driven and talented people “we act quickly to invite them to join the team”.

He continued: “Sue and Dan have a broad spectrum of experience working within the banking industry and we look forward to them adding their expertise to our already impressive team. We’re certain they will become valuable assets to our customers and the Bank.”

Relendex appoints BDM for North East

Relendex appoints BDM for North East

Hodgson has joined from Assetz Capital, where he was underwriter director. He previously spent more than two decades at Yorkshire Bank where he held a variety of roles, before taking the post of commercial real estate manager at National Australia Bank.

Relendex suggested that Hodgson’s long career in the sector meant that he has a “significant portfolio” of broker contacts.

Paul Sonabend, executive chairman at Relendex, said the lender was “growing fast” and always looking for talented professionals.

He continued: “James impressed us with his wealth of expertise as well as his strong sector relationships and track record in building and converting leads – all of which were key in our decision to bring James onboard.”

Hodgson said that Relendex was a “forward-thinking” lender, adding: “I am looking forward to using my knowledge, experience and interpersonal skills to play my part in the next stage of Relendex’s development as a leading peer-to-peer lender.”

Relendex targets doubling of lending in Q2

Relendex targets doubling of lending in Q2


As a result, Relendex expects to meet its £100m lending commitment target for the year to 31 January 2020.

In the first three months of the year enquiries broke £125m, growing at about £10m a week from the beginning of January.

Chairman Paul Sonabend (pictured) clarified that in three months up to March the lender completed about 12 deals, reaching a maximum deal size of over £6m.

Looking at the future, in terms of mean loan size, Sonabend said that the increase in capacity means that the peer-to-peer lender is considering loans up to £7m.

He added: “A small number of high value loans will result in our average loan size exceeding £1m.

“In terms of new areas, with the increase in our business development manger (BDM) network and their associated broker relationships, Relendex can comfortably cover loans throughout Great Britain.

“We have considered loans in Northern Ireland too but have yet to complete one.”

This comes after the appointment of Martin Whitworth as BDM covering the North West region in April.

As part of its growth plans, in January Relendex also appointed Fintan O’Riordan as director of lending, joining from Paragon Bank where he worked as head of development finance.


Two sides of business

Sonabend told Specialist Lending Solutions that this growth is driven by a partnership that Relendex signed in September 2018 with a debt fund with unlimited budget.

The executive chairman declined to reveal its name for confidentiality purposes.

He added: “Relendex provides two sides of business. We finance loans on the platform, with a capacity of about £4m a month, and we also have the side where we can originate loans by our debt partner.

“Finances come from a US company, one of the largest equity loan companies in the world, wishing to be in the UK bridging refinancing market.”

He concluded that within the £100m that the peer-to-peer lender is expecting to originate, it is likely that about half will go to the debt fund and the other half to the platform.


Precise appoints former broker as London BDM

Precise appoints former broker as London BDM


Parker (pictured) has 18 years of experience having worked as a mortgage adviser for Nationwide, and most recently as a broker for Embrace Financial Services.

She will be tasked with supporting brokers in the Guildford, Kingston upon Thames, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, South West London, Sutton and Twickenham postcodes.

Jamie Pritchard, head of sales at Precise Mortgages, said: “I believe her vast experience will stand her in good stead for understanding the needs of her broker relationships, as well as educating them about the solutions that a specialist lender like Precise Mortgages can provide.”

Parker is replacing Dan Watson, who it announced is moving into a new bridging specialist distribution manager role.

Precise said this will allow it to provide nationwide support for its bridging proposition.


The three service pillars brokers should demand from lenders

The three service pillars brokers should demand from lenders




It’s service that makes the tangible difference to your client’s mortgage experience and your business.

You control the service you give to your client directly, of course, but what about the service you both receive from the lender? It isn’t always easy to measure, and the sourcing systems don’t always give you the full picture.

You probably make smart decisions every day when advising your clients, based on your experience of dealing with different lenders. No doubt you know exactly which lenders you would and wouldn’t choose for a case that needs to complete quickly, for example.

It’s not just your own experience that can guide you – speaking to other brokers can give you valuable insight into service levels of different lenders too.

But what should you be looking for when trying to measure a lender’s service? A BDM bearing coffee and doughnuts may be a nice perk, but it won’t make a tangible difference to your business and your clients.

The three pillars of service below are a good start, as they not only make life easier for you; they also make for a smoother experience for your client:


Certainty of offer



Knowing that the lender is going to offer the mortgage makes all the difference to you and your client.

It gives your client reassurance to progress with other aspects of their purchase, such as engaging a conveyancer, plus they’ll feel confident in your efforts as their adviser, meaning you can move onto discussing related products such as insurance.

For you, certainty of offer from a lender is vital because it allows you move onto other work. When a lender declines an application after weeks of deliberation, it’s incredibly frustrating and damaging to your reputation as well as to your client’s purchase.

With Halifax, you can call on the day you submit a case and the lender will run through it, checking it has everything required. If more information is needed, you will be told about it immediately.



Speed of processing



It doesn’t matter how good the rates are, if a lender can’t process the case within an acceptable time frame your borrower could lose their property and you could lose the client.

Brokers tell lenders time and time again that they rely on them consistently hitting a good speed of processing. Delays mean you have to deal with unhappy clients, solicitors and estate agents, which can increase your workload and time spent on the case significantly – with no change to the fee you receive.

So how do you know which lenders are currently able to process your case and which are experiencing delays?

Some lenders publish their current application to offer times on their intermediary sites. Plus, you will already be aware of the turnaround times with those lenders you use regularly.

Another way to make sure you are aware of any delays is simply to stay up to date. Speak to your peers, and read the trade press which will usually cover any long delays that have been reported.

Keep up with industry news on social media (follow @mortgagesols on twitter) and broker forums, where there is no shortage of discussion about which lenders are providing a good service, and which are not. Of course, much of that is anecdotal but, combined with your own experience, you’ll begin to build a picture of which lenders you can trust to turnaround your case.


Fair fees for brokers  


cash, payment, money

Your client comes first of course, but it’s important that you are fairly rewarded for your efforts, whether the client is a first-time buyer, looking to remortgage or wanting to do a product transfer. Being paid fairly and transparently gives you the time and space to give your client the best advice from across the market.

You will have conducted a factfind, searched the market for the right deal and given regulated advice, and your fixed costs of business don’t change based on which type of customer walks through your door.

That’s why Halifax pays the same fee to brokers who advise existing borrowers to stay with us on a product transfer as we do those remortgaging from another lender.

It’s right that you’re fairly, consistently and promptly recompensed for the time you spend advising your client.

More lenders are now paying procuration fees on product transfer business – but many at reduced rates. Hopefully, pressure from intermediaries will mean we start to see more parity on product transfer fees, as lenders recognise the intermediaries’ work on these cases.


For the use of mortgage intermediaries and other professionals only

If you do not have professional experience, you should not rely on the information contained in this communication. If you are a professional and you reproduce any part of the information contained in this communication, to be used with or to advise retail clients, you must ensure it conforms to the Financial Conduct Authority’s advising and selling rules. Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628. This information is correct as of February 2019 and is relevant to Halifax products and services only.


Fleet Mortgages promotes Le Bas to national sales manager

Fleet Mortgages promotes Le Bas to national sales manager


For the past two years, Le Bas (pictured) has previously been business development manager in the South West for Fleet.

He has over 30 years’ experience working in the retail banking and finance industry. Prior to joining Fleet Mortgages, he held a number of BDM roles in the specialist lending sector.

Bob Young, chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages, said the promotion will add further strength to the sales team.

Graham Le Bas added that he was delighted to work with the team and help ensure Fleet achieves its goals for the remainder of 2018 and beyond.

Earlier this month Fleet announced Steve Cox will be leaving Hodge Lifetime, where he has been working as business development director since April 2016, to join in November as distribution director.

Meanwhile the lender has also launched a series of fixed-fee mortgages to expand its existing product range, aimed at helping advisers who are sourcing larger buy-to-let loans.

Bluestone Mortgages expands sales division with four appointments

Bluestone Mortgages expands sales division with four appointments


The lender has hired Jason James as national accounts manager, Graham Wallace as key account manager for the North, Mark Todd (pictured) as business development manager for the Midlands and Wales, and Alex McMillen as business development manager for London and the South.

James joined from Kensington Mortgages and he will be responsible for strengthening relationships with key distribution partners.

Wallace joined from Virgin Money where he held the same role for the last three years.

Todd joined Bluestone from a recruitment background having spent four years at Nationwide. He will work alongside the key account manager for this region, Harsha Dahyea.

McMillen joined from Magellan Homeloans and he will work alongside Simon Wilson, key account manager for London and the South.


Banking licence preparations

At the end of July Bluestone revealed managing director David Torpey would be standing down as the lender began the process of preparing to apply for a banking licence.

The new appointments also follow the promotions of existing individuals within the sales team, including Reece Beddall who was promoted to head up the business development team and Danny O’Driscoll, who has moved to the sales team as business development executive.

Director of sales and marketing at Bluestone Mortgages Steve Seal (pictured) said that the team is very excited to welcome these new additions at this time of development for Bluestone.

He added: “We are seeing unprecedented demand for our products and believe these key hires will ensure we are well placed to support our intermediary partners.

“We remain committed to helping those currently underserved by high street lenders and these appointments are the first of many exciting announcements in the pipeline.”