The priorities of a new specialist lender, how BTL is no longer a mainstream product thanks to the raft of changes – and a thwarted ambition to join the police
In your position as director of sales – mortgages at Vida Homeloans, what is your working relationship with brokers?
A large part of my role is spent with the Vida sales team, meeting brokers and listening to their feedback, which is essential to ensure we continue to meet their needs.
There is also a team of experienced telephone BDMs based in our head office in Staines-upon-Thames and I enjoy hearing some great questions from the brokers, most of which are fairly complex as you might expect of a specialist residential and BTL mortgage lender.
What has been the biggest challenge of your role to date?
Recruitment. When I joined Vida I was asked how many field-based BDMs I thought I needed; my boss, Guy Batchelor, was a little taken aback when I said “None”!
What Vida really needed was an experienced team of key account managers who would support the brokers and assist them in growing their business. I am delighted with the outcome; we sought and employed a highly experienced and talented team.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love being out and about meeting our customers – the brokers – who are the backbone of our business, the foundation of everything we do.
As a woman working in finance, do you feel there is gender equality in the sector when it comes to senior roles?
I believe in, and have only ever experienced, the approach of ‘best person for the job’.
What plans are in place for business growth at Vida this year? And what is your hope for the market overall in 2017?
What we have started to see in 2017 is the growth of the specialist mortgage market. The recent BTL changes implemented by both the Government and the regulator have meant that this is no longer a ‘mainstream’ product and brokers are really having to think about what is best for their landlords’ longer-term plans.
The broker market has done some great lobbying to ensure lenders offer product transfers and retention products to their customers, which is likely to have an impact on their earning potential, so many are having to grow their customer base through diversification into the specialist sector. This is great news for Vida as we offer solutions for customers’ more complex needs.
As a new lender to market, we need to ensure we offer great products, technology and service, which we will continue to develop throughout 2017. We have had an amazing start and have received over £0.5bn in DIPs so far. However, we can’t rest on our laurels.
If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I always wanted to be a policewoman but at 5ft 2in I was too short. By the time they changed the rule, I was too old.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
My mum. She is the most amazing woman I know; she keeps getting up, again and again, and ploughing ahead.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love spending time with my 11-year-old daughter, as well as running and cycling. I enter lots of events each year to keep me focused, and I’ll be riding with ‘Team Vida’ (which also includes Mortgage Strategy’s own Sam Barker) in this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on 30 July.
What is the best advice you have received?
My grandfather told me to always invest in bricks and mortar. While I don’t doubt he was right, it took me longer than it should have to realise it.
If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
I would abolish stamp duty for anyone aged over 60 looking to downsize, and introduce incentives for builders not to hang on to land but to get on with building.