A glimpse into how the specialist finance industry is working
working from home

A glimpse into how the specialist finance industry is working from home, with BDMs 'most affected'

The specialist finance sector has offered its top tips on how to efficiently and effectively work during these extraordinary times, with BDMs highlighting ways that have helped them successfully transition to working from home.

According to Gemma Lloyd, co-CEO and founder of Work180, in order to positively work from home, you should do the following:

  • set your alarm
  • shower and get dressed
  • set up a good workspace
  • keep active
  • utilise social networks
  • set ground rules
To manage a team efficiently, Gemma said that companies should use video more often, respect employees’ work hours, establish personal connections, encourage open communication, experiment with new tools and, most importantly, trust your team.
“All 25 of us are working from home and, thanks to Microsoft Teams, it feels like we are in the same office,” Guy Harrington, CEO at Glenhawk, told B&C.
“So far, it’s been very efficient … enquiries have gone up, but we have introduced even tighter credit measures.”
Guy pointed out that Glenhawk was looking at each new loan “case by case” and ensuring that any exit was well stress tested.
“…You’d hope [the property market] would be well protected, however the government has been so slow to lock down the UK, I fear that we may still be talking about this in December — all we can do is remain positive and lend sensibly.”
Stuart Sykes, chief operating officer at Oblix Capital, highlighted the need to try and keep routines similar to how you would in the office, and emphasised the need to “stay positive”.

“If you’re feeling down or isolated, reach out to a colleague — the virtual equivalent of having a coffee and a chat in the kitchen.

“[Make sure to] check in with the team using [Microsoft] Teams, or a conference or video call early on, and repeat this at the end of the day as well,” he suggested, in addition to taking regular breaks and circulating light-hearted messages and good-news stories “to help keep spirits up”.

Richard Tugwell, director of intermediary relationships at Together, added that people should definitely treat the day as a business day.

“It’s important to set your agenda for calls, as you would with face-to-face meetings, set work tasks with a start and finish time and have regular breaks.”

Richard saw communication as key to implementing a sense of security and certainty while working from home.

“From previous experience, how you act and react in times like this defines the way that you are perceived when normality returns.

“It’s important to consider how people are experiencing these testing times.

“Everybody’s approach will be different, so treating people how you would want to be treated is massively important and we need to support our colleagues where we can.”

Chirag Shah, CEO at Nucleus Commercial Finance, commented that the specialist finance sector has had to adapt quickly and learn new ways of conducting business as usual, while working remotely.

BDMs are the “most affected” by the situation, he claimed, as a result of not being able to conduct regular face-to-face catch-ups with clients.

“Therefore, it is even more important that we keep transparent and regular dialogue with clients, whether it be via phone calls or messaging services, to understand their needs and best support these businesses in this constantly evolving environment.”

How are BDMs in the specialist finance market transitioning to WFH?

Charissa Chang, business relationship manager at Allica Bank, said that, as a field-based relationship manager, she was used to working from home, however, the last couple of weeks have come with some challenges she “never expected” she would have to deal with.

“The first is being Mum to a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter who would normally be at school, however, with schools closed, it is basically a full-time job in itself trying to keep on top of her school work and daily entertainment.”

“Then there is my significant other, who is also at home, which means sharing our office, the house, poor WIFI and bickering over whose turn it is to make the coffee!

“For me, maintaining regular communication with our introducers is more important now than it ever was, and I’ve adapted to a new way of working, where video calls are the new face-to-face.

“This will pass, we will all get through it and businesses will bounce back and thrive.”

Joseph Aston, national sales manager at Vantage Finance, highlighted that within sales in the specialist finance space, BDMs craved face-to-face contact, as it was the “most effective and efficient way to build a relationship and answer someone’s queries/concerns about working with you”.

“The challenge with remote working is manufacturing this environment as best as possible, and we’re incredibly lucky to have such a broad range of technology available to all of us in this modern age.

“We are utilising video conferencing regularly both internally and externally to ensure we all stick together, and our sales pitch has changed somewhat to lean more towards education than opportunistic.”

He added that pushing its USPs and sales points would be “somewhat insensitive” in a market where people are trying to keep afloat.

“However, keeping brokers informed on what is going on, which lenders are lending, which products are still available and how they can still find opportunity within specialist lending is absolutely vital throughout this tumultuous period and, by offering our insight, I hope we can build even stronger relationships with our intermediary network, despite the lack of face-to-face contact.”

Nazia Yaqub, relationship manager at Signature Property Finance, told B&C that she was in “constant contact” with its key introducers and clients via WhatsApp, Zoom video calls/meetings and, in order to progress on deals, telephone conversations had assisted her “tremendously”.

“Utilising technology in maintaining key relationships is very effective for me, especially during this crucial time of working from home.

“It has enabled me to reassure our clients we are still open for business and endeavour to support them through our lending process effectively.

Christian Gugolz, BDM at MT Finance, said he had been working from home, when not in meetings, for at least once a week for the past five years — “So, I am used to it,” he stated.

He added that, in the morning, he quickly caught up with its sales team to talk about what its goals were for the days ahead.

“As always and, more importantly right now, communication is absolutely key,” he stated.

“This is why I’ve also been setting up Zoom calls and catching up with as many brokers as possible— it is as lonely for them as it is us!”

Christian admitted that one of the biggest challenges of working from home was keeping motivated.

“Not having anyone around you to bounce off can become very demoralising, which again is why it is so important to keep lines of communication open, whether it be over the phone (best way by far) video calls, or e-mails.”

Christian recently set up the ‘Golf Bucket Isolation Challenge’ on LinkedIn to try and create a bit of a community feel within the industry and raise money for the NHS at the same time.
Currently, Christian and the rest of the participants have raised £1,226, almost reaching the £1,250 target.
Article written by Beth Fisher, assisted by Sam Monk.

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