What are the main functions of your role?
Firstly, the main thing about being a Business Analysis (BA) is being adaptable and flexible, and available for anything. No BA worth their stripes can say they can only do one thing well and not adapt to anything else. Being a BA is like being a ‘box to box’ midfielder in football. Sometimes you are at the top of the pitch helping the strikers score goals by delivering key milestones on the critical path, sometimes you are tracking back and helping the defence by getting to grips with their requirements, their processes and being that guide for what to do next, ensuring the risks are being managed effectively at all times. It is possibly the most diverse role in B-North and I enjoy it immensely. I can honestly say in the 2 years since joining I have learned more about ‘what makes up a Bank’ and myself than in the previous 14 years of my career. The key to being a successful BA is a constant drive to learn new things.
How does working at a start-up bank compare to a high street bank?
It is night and day different. In a massive organisation of a high street bank, there are armies of people on a programme. The last project I worked on in my previous employment had my project team with 12 people on and then a programme wide ‘team’ of c200 people. In B-North there are 3 on the ‘Programme’ team working with a whole staff of 22. Massive difference. Importantly though, far less needless bureaucracy.
In B-North I can produce a paper for review at ExCo and Board and I can present it myself for any praise or scrutiny as appropriate. In my previous employ, I’d produce a paper which went to a project working group where I could present it, then up to programme working group (someone else presented), then to a steering committee (someone else), then to an exec steering committee (someone else), and eventually to the Exec Sponsor of the Programme for a decision. Not very agile.
What makes working in a start-up more appealing, is the process of making a decision, from the speed of decision and access to the right decision-makers. Its a world apart - for the better! Delivery is slicker and faster-paced for it.
What has been a major challenge in the building of B-North, and how did you overcome it?
2020 has thrown up a new world of challenges the likes of which have never been seen before. COVID-19 has meant a wholesale change of the way we live, the way we work, and the way we interact with others. The new virtual working ‘normal’ has been a challenge and B-North has excelled. As a team, we have delivered c180 key milestones on the plan in 2020. Utilising great tech, fantastic people and work ethic have allowed for delivery, at pace, to still be achieved in this most testing of years. The challenge continues in bringing on new members to the team ‘virtually’, and ensuring they feel as welcome and part of the B-North community as if they were joining us in the office. Morale has stayed high and the quality of work hasn’t let up in the most difficult of circumstances thrown at us. It has been a credit to every member of the team, new and existing.
How does B-Norths Loan Origination system aim to make the experience of getting a loan more straightforward?
B-North has selected the best technology in the market to deliver the best possible experience for the user and benefit the customer. But it isn't just about technology. B-North provides customers with the perfect blend of people and technology. We have a new way of thinking about the end to end process of obtaining funding. The origination system, coupled with the best property analysis software, risk data gathering and analysis tools, customer onboarding tools, and the unique to B-North legal experience makes us stand out head and shoulders above the competition. Technology, added to the 'Pod' model, removes the outdated high street bank concept of siloed departments responsible for different parts of the journey. This maintains a personal feel for customers. We remove any unnecessary re-keying of information removing time delays and risk to the process as well. B-North bringing that personal touch back to banking, coupled with the best tech will enable us to reduce the lending journey timeline by a factor of 10 if the customer wants it.
It can sometimes be difficult to step back from a business and take an objective look at things, what would you tell SME owners looking to examine their business in detail?
Firstly, no-one understands a business better than the people that run it. They live and breathe it, and it matters to them more than any bank could imagine. This is why it is key to B-North to involve people rather than simply computers at the heart of decision making. Build relationships, not barriers. Having someone from the bank fully involved in living and breathing that business with the business owner is what we are about. The advice I would give to business owners is, before you have the funding, assess your role in the business and bring yourself up a level. To grow, you as a business owner may need to change your role and how hands-on you are. If you are too hands-on, it can be difficult to manage the spinning plates of customers, suppliers, new hires, and contractors. Delegating some responsibility is not you giving up any control of your business.
Additionally, never be afraid to speak to your bank. It is sometimes the last place people go for help and support but with the relationships, we intend to build with our customers at B-North we want customers to come to us for support whenever they need it. If you don’t use your bank relationship as a resource it may go too far past the point for advice or assistance where the bank has to be involved for different reasons. We don’t want it to be too late, we want to support and nurture our customers as their goals are our goals for them.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?
I have 3 loves in life, my beautiful fiancé, my 2 truly amazing boys, and cars. I love to spend time with my family, I like a project at home as well as in my work life so I always have something to build or to do around the house. Having two young boys allows me to get back into building fun things for them that I liked as a kid - forts, treehouses, and lego! I say it is all for them, but it’s also for the big kids in me and my other half that love it too. Everything I do in life is for them and they give me the drive to be the best version of myself like nothing else.