What are the main functions of your role?
As the Regional Managing Director for the North West Pod, it's my responsibility to build an outstanding front line lending team who work together to deliver tailored finance to future customers. Our technology enables us to deliver at pace, but we understand SME borrowers need the human touch. So it's my role to lead the team to make sound lending recommendations, by working with our customers and brokers to truly understand the business and their financial needs, allowing us to tailor appropriate funding solutions. Our team will make the wider B-North team proud when we bring this Bank to market and support SME’s with the great lending products we have developed.
What are you doing in preparation for the opening of the first lending pod?
The North West Pod is the flagship office for B-North and is shaping up really well, we have all our recruitment lined up and we are eager to start. We have secured some amazing talent with diverse backgrounds which create a really strong team. The team have worked hard to build all of our systems & processes with the customer at the heart of everything to make the lending journey as frictionless as possible and we are in a good place to commence lending. Brokers are a key part of our strategy and we have been working closely with them throughout the build of the Bank, we will use our relationships to generate business as we progress towards our launch.
How different from your previous roles is being involved in building a model from the ground?
Wow, where do I start….poles apart, in a good way! I underestimated the skills I learnt in a large organisation until I came to work in a start-up environment where your entrepreneurial skills are needed in abundance. To have the opportunity to build from a blank piece of paper is amazing, to get things right for the customer rather than be constrained by legacy issues is very rewarding. I dare say I have learnt more about banking in the past 18 months than I did in the past 20 years, as you get involved in all areas of the Bank, working with great colleagues all passionate and driven. We roll up our sleeves, work together and get the job done.
How important is it to have a localised approach to lending as opposed to centralised systems?
Being localised is hugely important. Having experienced Lending Directors, Underwriters and Valuers working together in the pod, operating in the local area and knowing the market enables us to make informed decisions at pace. We don't do one size fits all. What works for one geographic location might not for another and being local enables us to assess every deal on its own merits, using strong intelligence on the local economics and the impact this may have on a case by case basis. It also helps us to go beyond banking, using our local network of professionals and contacts to connect with our customers, forge relationships, support each other, create opportunities, and have a positive impact in local communities.
What words of wisdom would you give to SMEs thinking about borrowing, either to expand or stay afloat?
Take time to step back from the business and work on it, not in it. I have seen many SME businesses grow and be successful yet the owner finds it hard to step back from the doing and delegate - this is even more important to do during challenging times as it gives you time to reflect and plan. Think about your short term recovery plan but also consider your long-term strategy and factor in the ability to respond to a fast-moving environment. Be prepared. Lenders look for a strong management team who have both the ability to diversify and respond to changing environments and the drive to exercise judgement and act in the best interests of the business on the road to recovery or expansion. Explore the market, if needed use a reputable commercial broker who has access to the whole market and will support you to get tailored finance solutions.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?
I work hard but enjoy downtime with the family particularly our 3 children, I enjoy flexibility in my role which helps me balance my time as much as possible - my children are my motivation and make me so proud. I love walking, and travel is a massive passion. I have always been passionate about giving back and raise money for various charities both personally and in a work environment. I have been known to do the odd small property refurbishments which keep me busy on the rare occasion I have some spare time!