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NatWest is evolving BDM teams and looking at BTL, new build and large loans

NatWest is evolving BDM teams and looking at BTL, new build and large loans

NatWest has been growing its field-based business development manager (BDM) and telephony teams, and is looking at buy-to-let (BTL), new-build and large loan propositions.

Mark Bullard (pictured), head of intermediary sales at NatWest, said that the business had undergone a number of changes in the last 18 months, including field BDMs being more “true business development in their approach”, and increasing the number of colleagues in the intermediary phone teams.

He added that in answer to broker feedback about the importance of being responsive, NatWest had increased the number of colleagues supporting brokers on the phone, internally known as its business development adviser team.

“I always want to make sure that we are responsive. Whether a broker enquires via our website, live chat, on the phone or via one of our field-based BDMs, we can meet their needs,” he said.

Bullard noted that around half of the 23 field-based BDMs had joined the firm in the last 18 months, having been existing BDMs with other lenders. It currently has 50 telephony BDMs. He said there is a 50-strong team that deals with enquiries coming in from brokers and administrators post-application.

He noted that the changes had been made, but he wants to “continue to evolve and improve what we do today by working hand in hand with our digital offering and technology to support the broker and what our brokers need”.

Bullard said that NatWest was looking to expand its BTL, new-build and larger loan propositions, the latter through NatWest and its Coutts proposition.

“We have definitely got [an] appetite to move the dial on those propositions from where we are today to where we need to get to tomorrow to support brokers and their customers.”

BDMs need to be ‘good translators’

When asked what he is looking for in terms of a BDM, he highlighted “brilliant questioning skills” and the need to be “good translators”.

“I’m conscious from a broker perspective that they could deal with 50 to 70 lenders in any given year, and actually the translation part comes from that BDM being able to translate what we do at NatWest, and how that benefits the broker and their customer around nuances of our proposition.

“The other part comes from, once you understand that, working in tandem with the broker firm on where the broker firm wants to go. How we can work together with them for [the] mutual benefit of them and their customers, deliver that, review that and see how we improve further – for the benefit of the lender, the broker, and the customer,” Bullard added.

“I think listening to what a broker firm wants is a better way to understand than going through a list of USPs that we can do as a lender, because some of those may not be relevant to that broker and the types of customers they support,” he added.

Bullard said that, overall, brokers welcomed the “experience and quality” that NatWest has brought in, in terms of field-based BDMs, but there can be an “element of tension” around the change of a relationship.

“In some cases, the BDMs and relationships have changed, as well as the support we offer, being more responsive to the broker demand through our telephony teams.

“The brokers that use us love what we do, but like many lenders, we want more brokers to use us.”

Bullard said that its net promoter score (NPS) was in the high 80s, which means that it is doing a “good job”, but there is always more that could be done.

“Some of that will come through consistency, of brokers getting a great experience from us again and again. And of course, us continuing to listen, evolve and respond to brokers’ needs as our propositions evolve,” he said.


‘Use us, trust us and, if you haven’t already, definitely try us’ and give feedback

Bullard said that, on the technology side, there had been a “very successful transition” from its old broker platform to a new one.

“Feedback has been fabulous from brokers about that change. We were able to listen to broker feedback on our old platform and ensure the new one created a better experience.

“It’s a really good foundation for us to build from, so that’s been a really solid foundation to what we’re trying to do,” he added.

Another aspect that the lender is doing is presenting its proposition and credit appetite in a way that “allows the broker to self-serve”. It has done this by investing time in developing content on its intermediary website and creating hubs around customer and product segments.

Bullard said that it was also working on making the journey as “seamless” as possible for brokers.

“Part of that is about the packaging requirements that are needed to support the application. As a lender, there’s so much that we can do from a technology perspective without actually seeing physical evidence because we can validate it in the background.

“What you can expect from us in the future is that technology will help and support that application, and we’ll therefore have to ask for a lot less information that we do today,” he said.

Bullard said that the firm was “not there yet, but we definitely want to get there”, as he acknowledged that the broker wants certainty of its appetite to lend and to get their customers a mortgage offer.

When asked what he would want brokers to know about NatWest, Bullard said: “I would say try us, use us, trust us and give us feedback.

“The team are really responsive. They really understand the broker and your clients’ needs, they’ll know whether we have appetite for that case or if there is a challenge, they’re responsive to that and know how to deal with it.

“I think brokers definitely want ownership and I’m challenging my team to take ownership and resolve, but the team can only do that and brokers experience that if brokers try us and trust us.”


Mark Bullard, head of intermediary sales at NatWest

Mark has over 34 years in financial services and retail banking, and the last 20 years have been spent in a variety of leadership roles within intermediary distribution for NatWest. He is responsible for the business development roles and telephony support staff that support the end-to-end intermediary journey.


NatWest has partnered with the British Mortgage Awards this year to celebrate the mortgage sector’s standout and most excellent members. As part of the partnership, Mortgage Solutions will be publishing a series of interviews with NatWest’s mortgage team to discuss best practice and the importance of working together for the good of the sector’s shared customers.

This year’s British Mortgage Awards took place on 4 July – find out who this year’s winners are here and watch a recap of the evening here. The photos of the night have also been uploaded here.

Anna is currently the deputy editor for Mortgage Solutions and editor for Specialist Lending Solutions. She has worked as a journalist since 2019, having secured her Gold Standard NCTJ diploma from News Associates in a fast-track six-month course.

She started her career as a report at specialist publication The Insurance Insider covering a wide range of areas before joining Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions in 2021.

In her role, she helps put together and structure the news agenda for the day and writes up press releases, reports, interviews, analyses and exclusives across both titles. She also commissions blogs for Specialist Lending Solutions and hosts online masterclasses and in-person events across the business.

She has been shortlisted for three journalism awards, which include BIBA Journalist and Media Awards Scoop of Year Award in 2020, Headline Money Mortgage Journalist of the Year Award (B2B) in 2022 and 2023.

Prior to being a journalist, Anna worked in ecommerce across Snow + Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need websites, and before that worked at specialist financial PR firm Rostrum.

In her spare time, Anna enjoys reading, seeing live music, and cooking for friends and family. When she gets a chance, she also enjoys hiking, skiing and indoor rock climbing.

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