A new normal for business development managers

Jeremy Duncombe

August 24, 2021

Jeremy Duncombe Accord first-time buyers

Jeremy Duncombe is managing director of Accord Mortgages

It’s been a long-time coming, but dare I say we might finally be on the home straight. We’ve had our hopes raised and dashed a number of times since March 2020, but with the success of the vaccine rollout and the latest easing of restrictions, I’m hopeful we’re on the right path to return to a new form of normal.

However, and I suspect it’s the same for many businesses, we won’t be turning our back on everything this period in time has shown us.

There’s no doubt it’s been relentless – a housing market coming to a standstill followed by one of the busiest times in the industry’s history challenged us all – but we’ve all had to adapt efficiently, effectively and collaboratively to get to where we are today.

We’ve accelerated change in areas that could well have been years off pre-COVID. We’ve learnt what we’re capable of, where our strengths lie and what we preferred before, and that leaves us in a really strong position to look to the future.

Take the role of business development managers (BDMs) for example. Although externally it may look to have changed dramatically, their fundamental purpose has not.

In fact, given the amount of uncertainty created during the pandemic the need for someone to support and add value with in-depth knowledge of lender’s products, criteria and processes couldn’t have been stronger.

Thanks to remote working, that’s exactly what lenders had. An incredibly knowledgeable team of BDMs, supporting brokers when they needed it most over the phone or by webchat.

Diaries previously filled with broker visits, car journeys and lunch on-the-go swapped for back-to-back virtual meetings and interactions to ensure questions were answered and solutions found.

At some of Accord’s busiest times – when we were one of the only lenders offering 90% loan-to-value (LTV), or the first back in at 95% LTV for example – our BDMs and business

development advisers were dealing with thousands of webchats, emails and calls a week and helping more brokers at once than we’ve ever been able to, but we still managed an average satisfaction score of nine or higher out of 10.

We had some difficult decisions to make along the way, including switching our inbound broker phone line off, but we continued to serve brokers to the high standards they have come to expect.

With significant recruitment and investment in our team, we’re in a position now to switch the phones back on and have also launched a new dedicated variations team line to help improve the variations journey for brokers.

Like many businesses, we’ll be striking a balance when it comes to ways of working in the future. We cannot ignore the efficiencies using more and better technology brings, and we’ll embrace it alongside our teams returning to the face-to-face contact we’ve all missed, and we know is so valuable in our industry.

Proactivity and face-to-face meetings are an opportunity to add value and work in partnership with brokers. Understanding your business and then helping you to support even more clients is a key benefit that a good BDM will add.

It’s therefore important that we create the capacity for brokers to be proactive by encouraging use of technology such as webchat, online case updates, and self-service where appropriate. Helping us to help you is an important step to returning to that new form of normal.

The intermediary market is fuelled by relationships on all levels, many of which have been or will benefit from being built in person. That won’t change.

I’m sure many brokers can resonate with that too. We know nothing can replicate a face-to-face meeting with a client, and the rapport and potentially long-term relationship that can yield, but there’s been a shift in client expectations too.

Remote consultations have been the norm for some time now, it would be remiss to not expect those to continue in the future, complimented by the option of physical meetings too.

It’s been a colossal 18 months for all and it takes a special type of resilience to overcome the hurdles we’ve all faced, but we are finally able to look forward and that’s testament to our industry’s strength.

However you and your business respond to the easing of restrictions, I wish you well. Stay safe – we can’t wait to see you all again soon.

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