The importance of being nimble, why mortgage brokers are essential, meeting the needs of first-time buyers and later-life borrowers – and being a nightmare dad
How does your day-to-day relationship with brokers play out?
It’s my job to pull together the different moving parts within Lloyds Banking Group to make it easier for customers to do business and work with us. This includes responding to market feedback on the key areas of service, policy and underwriting delivery.
I spend a lot of time on the road engaging in forums and speaking to brokers, regional managers and BDMs to get feedback direct from the coal face. This is invaluable to my job, especially when chairing internal meetings so I can make sure that we can be nimble, responding to customers’ needs as they continue to change and looking for ways to do more to ensure our service retains its excellent standard.
How important are mortgage brokers to the success of your business?
They are key to our success and the delivery of Lloyds Banking Group’s strategy to Help Britain Prosper.
We’re constantly looking at ways to help brokers do business with us. Last year, we introduced a virtual search assistant on the Halifax Intermediaries website to provide instant answers on policy or lending criteria questions and to save time overall.
What has been the biggest challenge of your role to date?
In a role that requires me to be constantly on the move, the one thing that is constant is change. The team and I work hard to respond to feedback, and to keep pace with market trends. Keeping all the balls in the air can be a challenge, but I know this is one that we all face.
One of the benefits of technology is that you can catch up on work when you’re on the move.
What is your favourite part of your job?
The ongoing development of my team, and investing time in them to see them grow and succeed in their roles.
What plans are in place for business growth and further improving intermediary relationships at Halifax this year?
There are a number of areas where we continue to develop our proposition. We will continue to support the mainstream market, and to review policies to make sure that it’s as easy as possible to do business with us.
We have set clear goals in the first time buyer market and in the new build arena. I’ve also recently expanded the team of telephone BDMs, which make it easier for brokers to contact us when BDMs are tied up in external meetings and events.
What is your hope for the market overall in the next 12 months?
There is no doubt that the market is becoming more competitive, as new lenders enter the fray, this is clearly a good thing for customers and will mean that traditional lenders like us need to stay alert to progress.
It’s also important to continue to develop options for first-time buyers and later-life lending. Some predictions suggest a flat market overall with perhaps some upside as the year progresses. In challenging times this feels like a relative success.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I had two careers in mind. First, to play No 9 for Aberdeen, but my ongoing battle with diet and exercise put paid to that. I had the football brain but not a lot else. My second option was to be a long-distance lorry driver, which at the age of 17 I saw as an immediate route to Europe. The fact I didn’t have a licence was perhaps going to be a challenge.
Then, in 1982, old mother Wilson said: “Son, you should get a job in the bank.” A couple of months later I started in Halifax Building Society.
What do you do in your spare time?
Having a work pattern that means a lot of time away from home, I tend to spend any spare time with my family, well, apart from a weekly trip to Lanark Golf Club in an attempt to reduce my handicap from 14.
Two of my boys play football; I’m the nightmare dad on the touchline and also in giving ‘post-match’ coaching.