BDM migration within the industry

BDM migration within the industry


Bridging & Commercial tried to ascertain what attracts a BDM in this day and age to move to another lender.

Speaking with some of the current BDMs within the industry and getting the angle from a head-hunter also, we tried to find out what factors they look at in a company when they’re on the move, what attracted them to work at their current organisations and which other lenders they believe are the big players in the industry.

According to research published yesterday by marketing recruiter EMR, BDMs have one of the hottest roles in professional services. 2011 saw average salaries for BDMs up by 5.5 per cent to £58,000. Charles Green, managing consultant of EMR said: “2011 has seen a growing demand for a finite number of experienced BDMs, which has driven up salaries.”

We spoke to Neil Molyneux, BDM at Cheval Bridging Finance, who has always worked in finance and has been at Cheval for four months. Prior to that he worked for Sequence, a national estate agency chain, where he ran a regulated sales team. Before that he worked in secured lending with Swift and SPPL loans.


Speaking about his background, Neil said: “I was an Account Manager at Lehman Brothers but left in September 2007. I always wanted to work in lending as I perceive bridging to be the old-school type of lending with the added underwriting. I moved away from it to do some more roles and strengthen my proposition.”


He worked in a number of senior roles at director level, but wanting to get back into the bridging world “found it hard to get people to even look at his CV.


“So I started a marketing campaign and with my graphic designing background, rebranded the outside of a Kit Kat and replaced the name with my own, the nutritional information for my USPs and the ingredients with personal qualities.


“Subsequently, I contacted the trade press and sent out 60 ‘CVs’ to specialised mortgage companies, which included eight bridging companies.”


Four of the bridging companies invited Neil to interview and when he met Cheval he knew that they were the company for him.


“I got on fantastically well with them and even found myself designing a product in my interview. I received two offers but knew Cheval was the right place for me. With what happened at Lehman Brothers, one of my main criteria for applying was making sure that the funding was there.


“I did background checks and searched the web for negative comments about all the lenders. Cheval are a very established company and have rock solid funding and what drew me to them was the freedom of the role in that I could bring my creativity to the table. They have a really good small team and that instant bond is crucial in this industry.”


In terms of whether location is an issue for a BDM, Neil stated: “I’m based on the South coast and the office is in Watford but despite there being a 90 mile commute, geography or location is not really an issue. Being a BDM is quite an insular role in that you’re always on the road or at home and only get into the office a couple of times a week. As long as you have an iPhone these days you can work anywhere.”


When we asked Neil who he thought some of the other big players are within bridging, he told us: “the obvious ones that spring to mind are Dragonfly, West One Loans and UTB.”


Jason Fantini was appointed as the latest West One Loans BDM in August.  Before that he worked for London-based Bespoke Bridging Finance, having held senior positions within Barclays Bank for about 15 years before that.

Prior to joining West One, Jason told us that he had had a couple of other interviews with other lenders, with some being more financially rewarding, but had a gut feeling when he met West One.

We asked him why he chose West One. “I took the job for several reasons,” he explained. “First, it meant more responsibility. West One wants me to develop new broker relationships across the UK and in particular outside of the London region. That’s a great remit.

“Second, I liked the team - Manish Babla, a fellow BDM here, made me feel very welcome when I came in for my interview with Duncan and the other directors. 

“But the thing that attracted me to West One Loans the most was the way they did business.  I like dealing with people rather than procedures and West One refuses to get bogged down in red tape. 

“For instance, a broker can fill out forms our application forms in about 20 minutes. And if they do the first half, we’ll start looking at a deal for you even if you haven’t finished the form. It is a million miles from the tedious grind you get elsewhere.  West One’s not a faceless corporation and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Jason added, “It is not just about the products at the end of the day, you have to be able to feel confident about the other people in your team. BDM is a frontline role and you could be the greatest salesman in the world but if you don’t have the correct infrastructure across the whole team, from administration to underwriting, behind you it just won’t work.”

We asked who Jason perceived to be the other main players within the bridging industry: “I believe that West One Loans, Dragonfly and Tiuta are the three main bridging lenders in the industry for volume and value.”

Chris Parr was the Senior BDM at Bridgebank Capital (2006-2010) and, now based in Manchester, is the BDM at Masthaven as their northern based BDM.

“I’ve been in the bridging industry since 2006 and I used to work for a commercial bank in the property department , but in the mid-2000s property was the big thing. What attracted me to the bridging industry is the speed of doing deals; everything takes a lot less time to process than in a bank,” he explained.

On accepting the role at Masthaven, Chris told us: “the two main things that attracted me to Masthaven were the products they offer and their reputation” and, with regard to other big players in the industry, added: “you can’t ignore the big names like Tiuta, Cheval and Dragonfly.”

Gordon Rae, BDM at Cheval, started his role at the beginning of May this year. Prior to that he was at Tiuta for just over one year and before that was managing the national sales team servicing the mortgage packager division at GMAC for nearly 11 years.


Speaking about his move to Cheval, Gordon explained, “My position at Tiuta became unattainable and Gareth Lewis, who was at Cheval at the time, approached me to see if I would like to join their team. He ended up moving to Tiuta afterwards but I was intrigued by Cheval as they are very reputable in the market and a very professional outfit. I decided that it was the right time to move and made the decision to join Cheval.”


Gareth Lewis, Head of Business at Tiuta, has previously told us that he had “spent seven years at Cheval and made some great friends over the years but sometimes things reach their natural end – seven-year itch you might say.  Tiuta came to me at the right time and given both party’s circumstance it was perfect; Tiuta mirror my ambitions and drive to be at the forefront of the industry.”

On speaking about the reasons why he joined Cheval, Gordon said: “Although Cheval was not a big volume player, when I interviewed, I liked their big plans for the future and for expansion and wanted to be a part of it.”


When we asked Gordon who he thought some of the other big players are within bridging, he told us: “It’s got to be the usual suspects like UTB, Precise and Dragonfly.”

The new BDM at Tiuta, Kirsty Buchanan, started her role in May earlier this year. Prior to that she worked for J S Law, a law firm based in Leicester, dealing with a range of referring estate agents from across the country.

When asked how she found out about the job Kirsty told us: “I started my role in May and was new to the bridging industry. A personal friend of mine told me about the role at Tiuta and a meeting was arranged. The opportunity was offered, I liked what I heard and I took it.”

The change of location was a big factor in Kirsty’s decision to join Tiuta: “I was previously based in the Midlands and the opportunity to move to London was one that I had to take so that I could be involved more in the city market, property industry and the London broker market. I’m based in the office 3 days a week at the most but if there’s a meeting around the country I don’t mind at all travelling to go and meet people.”

We asked who Kirsty perceived to be the main players within the bridging industry: “Omni are good, they are very bespoke to their market place and for their set clientele within their market. Dragonfly move well across all areas across the industry.”

 “Some of the key criteria which make BDMs decide to join a lender are having absolute confidence in the product solutions, in that they are achievable, can be sold and fit into deals.” In response to funding: “lenders usually always have funding available, but whether the lender can tailor their products in order to meet the funding requirements is the question.”

To get the recruiter angle for our piece we spoke with Peter Gwilliam (see today’s 10 questions feature), who is the owner of Virtus Search and has worked as a headhunter since 1998.

“One of the key issues in the bridging sector for a BDM is knowing the firm you work for has certainty of funding that enables them to concentrate on promoting products without fear of changes that they have no control over, which is important to them, as they see things through the eyes of their immediate contacts in the broker space.

“Moreover, the cost of funds does dictate how competitively products can be priced and indeed, what overrides are available to the broker; again these elements are clearly of significant importance to the BDM,” he said.

“In my opinion those factors represent the medium/long term prospects of a BDM achieving both profile and career success, but are not always as intoxicating as the shorter term promise of financial return, where an initial tranche of money may set hares running, that might not be sustainable, but makes for a good story and leads to BDMs allowing the financial driver to outweigh a more balanced view.

“This is often the case where people follow people “trusting them” to have made the right decision and be flattered by the financial carrot that will be put before them because of their previous relationship, In such cases both sides take less time over the type of due diligence that I advocate

“In my experience every person has a different “career move scorecard” that they use to make decisions, and personal relationships and trust are always significantly weighted, but really successful moves are borne out of a wider appraisal of the firm, the opportunity, their aims and goals, and their ability to make those happen, since a story about funding in particular, can often be to high level to provide the answers to the questions of what is the funding reliant upon? What are the terms related to that funding? Are the funding arrangement under a contract?...where liquidity is king, it’s a wise BDM who asks those questions, and sales professionals who have such a wider commercial view are those destined to be more likely to have a strategic input as their career unfolds.”

The role of a BDM means that half the time they are on the road so where they are based is not really the issue as they travel all around the country. Location does not seem to be a big issue amongst BDMs although the attraction for many to move to London and the South East and be part of the bridging city bubble is quite clear.

For any budding BDMs wanting to get into the bridging industry they should try and be aware that, despite their being an increase number of lenders within the industry, the top BDMs have a mixture of experience not just with similar roles at other lenders but have extensive experience within bridging through underwriting skills, for example.

The latest figures have shown that the average salary is on the up and the prospect of greater financial returns, although very nice, is not definitely the first thing that motivates a BDM to move.

They have to feel confident with the company, the team, products and the direction with which they are heading. Added freedom and flexibility to use their own creativity and ideas is also a very appealing factor for a BDM who is thinking of moving.

By Jason McGee-Abe

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