The Mortgage Strategy Broker Focus column aims to amplify the voices of intermediaries up and down the country.
Profiling a different mortgage broker every week, the column will ask a mix of light-hearted and professional questions about the individual, their firm and their take on the mortgage market.
This week it is the turn of Signature Financial Services’ director Dean Birks.
Tell me about your firm in three sentences.
Signature Financial Services Limited is a relationship-focused, out-of-the-box thinking finance brokerage, offering advice on a comprehensive range of products from across the market for our clients’ FCA-regulated and commercial finance needs (because we’re not allowed to say whole-of-market anymore!).
We first opened our doors in October 2009 and have gone from strength to strength since. We have built on our core business of mortgages and insurances to provide bespoke commercial finance solutions for both individuals and corporate clients alike.
What is your headcount?
There are currently seven members of the Signature FS team, including two advising directors and three mortgage and insurance brokers.
We also have one case administrator and one compliance administrator. We are actively recruiting for a further two mortgage brokers and another administrator, so if you know anyone with the market knowledge required, I’m all ears!
Where are you based?
Our offices are within a Grade II Listed former militia barracks in the heart of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, but operate our services UK-wide.
What led you to become a mortgage broker?
My first house purchase in 2004. I sat in front of my mortgage broker at the time and thought, I’d really love to be able to do that job. It sounds corny but she made my dream come true and I wanted to do the same for others. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for!
What are the best parts of your job?
Helping others to achieve their goals. Whether that’s buying their first house or developing a block of flats. Hearing the positive feedback the team and I receive gives me great job satisfaction.
What are your plans for your firm’s future?
I’ve already mentioned that we are currently in the middle of the recruitment drive but also 2017/2018 will see a new website with a slight brand refresh and further brand marketing. Beyond this, the sky’s the limit.
What annoys you about the mortgage market?
The amount of red tape and sometimes, lack of open mindedness from the lenders. I appreciate that there is a need for many levels of regulation and checks but sometimes this leads to unnecessary assumptions and decisions based on the masses.
As we all know, every client is different and every situation requires a bespoke solution. This can sometimes, cause frustration.
And what is the best thing about it?
It all comes back to helping others achieve their goals. The work we all do in this industry is very important and can change people’s lives in a big way. We work hard to get it right and make people happy.
What one thing would improve brokers’ working lives the most?
An improvement in some of the lender’s processes and systems. Some of the more established mortgage lenders have aging systems which seem to take an eternity to facilitate client applications.
What is the best day you’ve ever had, and why?
Meeting my two nieces and nephew for the first time in the maternity ward. It’s great because I get all the hugs and kisses I want but get to give them back when I want a bit of peace. Technically that’s three days, but I couldn’t possibly choose, of course!
Which person, alive or dead, would you most like to have a drink with?
I’d have to say John Lennon. It would be fascinating to hear his tales. Maybe after a few tipples, he’d give me a personal rendition of Imagine or even I am the Walrus!
Which teams do you support, and why?
I’m a Stoke City fan. Born and bred in the Potteries, I had very little choice in the matter. I certainly wasn’t going to follow the Vale!
Finally, what do you most like to read in Mortgage Strategy?
Mortgage Strategy is the place to go to keep up to date with most things going on across our sector. It’s always good to hear what others are up to and the direction lenders, banks and brokers alike are heading.
If you would like your firm to be featured in Broker Focus, please email Mortgage Strategy deputy editor Sam Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02079704425.