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A day in the life of… Tom Gurrie, intermediary sales manager, Vernon Building Society

Tom Gurrie, intermediary sales manager, Vernon Building Society

My alarm goes off at… 6am. I leave home at about 7am for the relatively short trip to Stockport where Vernon’s head office is based.

I can’t leave the house without… having had a cup of tea. That comes first and then I check the news headlines. I can’t step out of the door without my work phone, of course, but also my work keys. I’m one of the first to arrive so I often open up. I’m sure many larger lenders have staff to do that, but at Vernon, we do it ourselves. 

I travel to work… by car and it’s a straightforward half an hour. It’s an advantage of working for a local lender. When I worked for Chelsea Building Society, I did a 130-mile commute twice a week and worked away from home a lot. I listen to BBC Radio Manchester in the car, because I prefer a calm start to the day – not excruciatingly loud presenters with advertisements.  

The main purpose of my job… is to grow the mortgage business by further developing Vernon’s presence with intermediaries. We are obviously a well-established mutual (Vernon opened in 1924) but we’ve never been really well known as an intermediary lender. In fact, we work very closely with brokers, and are growing this side of our business strongly. What started as partnerships with local brokers within 25 miles of Stockport has grown to national distribution with a number of major networks and mortgage clubs. We want brokers to know more about us and how we can help their clients. 

I joined… Vernon in April 2017, so only 20 months ago. I was previously intermediary sales director at Chelsea Building Society and left following the merger with the Yorkshire. I spent five years as a broker after that which has been invaluable in how I look at intermediary cases submitted to us now. I view cases in the same way I used to when I was a broker. Working for a small lender is not that different to broking in the sense that each and every case is important to us. 

My typical working day… starts with opening emails and some admin before the enquiries start from 9am. At Vernon, we get involved in all parts of the business, and I’m aware of everything that is going on. When I need to get out on the road, I don my business development manager hat and visit brokers, attend intermediary and industry events and meet our distributor partners. We’ve developed some really strong relationships in the last 12 months and have more to develop in 2019. 

People may not know I’m responsible for… everything. As the intermediary sales manager I get to cover key accounts, do BDM visits to brokers and take enquiries. I always tell brokers I meet that when they call Vernon, nine times out of 10 they’ll speak to me. Even if not, they’ll never get put through to a call centre – we don’t use them. 

A common misconception about my job is… that I don’t get involved in cases, when in fact I sense check around 90 per cent of the cases that come through. With my broker experience, I always try to find a way to make the case fit, as long as it’s within our lending policy of course. As a high-street lender, it might surprise people to know that we don’t rely on computers to make our lending decisions, which makes us especially good for those unusual or challenging cases. 

My favourite work memory is… as a broker, I often met clients with financial problems, and the satisfaction of helping get them back on track, buy a home or keep the roof over their head was unbeatable. I get that feeling at Vernon, because I am not far removed from the broker and their client.   

A perk of the job is… quick decision making. It’s easy to speak to anyone from the CEO down. I referred a case this week that was out of criteria and explained to Steve (Fletcher), our CEO, why we should be lending – luckily, he agreed! 

To unwind after work I like to… relax at home. At weekends I like to get some fresh air, so I do plenty of walking (followed by a beer or two!). 

My role in five words is… enjoyable, challenging, rewarding, empowering and engaging. 

 

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