Broker support profile: Darren Cunliffe, BDM


Darren provides insight into the role of a BDM at The Mortgage Works and tells us how he helps support you and your clients' applications.

How long have you been a BDM and what attracted you to this job?

I’ve been a BDM for 3 years and I’ve worked in financial services for roughly 25 years, most of that time spent as a broker. Over time, I developed some really good relationships with my BDMs and always thought it would be a role I would enjoy and be good at.

What area do you cover and how many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?

I cover Manchester, Stoke and Staffordshire, 396 brokers 232 firms.

What’s the secret to being a good BDM?

The house purchase process for a customer can be a very emotional experience and sometimes brokers have to deliver difficult messages face-to-face. As a BDM, I tend to become involved in cases where the broker has tried all the normal routes and for whatever reason, are still struggling to move the case forward. For that reason, I would say it’s important to be calm and a good listener, as well as experienced enough to know how, when and where to best help.

What’s a common misconception about your job?

Sometimes I get asked, “why do I need a BDM?”. For me, the role is very much about building long standing professional relationships.

When I first started as a broker, the only way to find out what a lender offered was through speaking to their BDM. This has changed over time with advancements in technology and sourcing systems. But the ability to be able to pick up the phone and speak to someone and ask them for help on difficult criteria, changes in policy or problem cases, is made so much easier when you’ve met them before and get on well with them.

A BDM will always try to help you. They’re a huge asset to your business that other channels do not have. Always make time for your BDM regardless of who they work for because at some point in the future, that call for help will be so much easier to make if you’ve invested time in building the relationship yourself. Brokers who do use BDMs are at a huge advantage.

What do you think we offer currently that is most useful to brokers and why?

TMW is a great all-round Buy to Let lender, particularly for specific pieces of criteria. Personally, I think our maximum age at application of 70 followed by our maximum term of 35 years can really help a lot of older landlords in difficult positions with their current lenders. And if I were a broker now, it’s something I would be looking at for all my existing landlord clients approaching that age. If needed, it will give them the peace of mind of knowing their funding will be there for the next 35 years.

What sort of challenges are you able to support brokers with?

A customer was looking to purchase a Buy to Let property for £150,000. All was fine with the initial underwrite and valuation was instructed. The Valuer came back and whilst the property was in a lettable condition, the recommended works came in at £7000 and as a result, TMW offered the case with a full retention.

The applicant wanted to proceed with the purchase but was not comfortable arranging for the work to be done before completion, which meant the case was about to fall through, and so the broker called me to see if anything could be done.

Not everyone is aware that TMW look to apply a full retention (for purchases over £100,000), where recommended works are over £5000 (and property is in a lettable condition).

Unfortunately, many of these cases, although go to offer, do not complete. Valuers, however, are open to lowering the recommended works amount if estimates can be provided from a recognised professional to show it can be completed for less. In this example, after I explained this the broker and customer were able to show the work could be completed for £4200, the Valuer was willing to amend his report. As the recommended works were now under £5000, TMW could then offer the original loan amount with no retention and the case was able to complete.

What’s a common issue for you and your brokers at the moment?

Whilst I do not believe portfolio lending is overly complex, it’s been made very difficult for brokers with the different stances lenders have taken. Knowing each lenders’ criteria is becoming a specialist skill. Some brokers are saying they’re more reluctant to get involved now than in the past, but interestingly I’m also hearing that the brokers who are welcoming Buy to Let are busier than ever. I do think that if embraced, these changes will really reinforce brokers’ position in the market as the industry specialists and will soon, if not already, be held in the same regard as Accountants and Solicitors as leaders in their chosen field.

What’s your top tip that’ll help speed up an application?

Package your case correctly from day one, use the upload system and keep checking for case updates. Also, try not to email documents in where ever possible.

What’s the most interesting question a broker has ever asked you?

More a statement than a question - “That’s a window not a door” - after I walked into a glass window that I was expecting to open and it didn’t.

And finally, if you’re unavailable, what’s do you recommend your brokers to do?

Broker Chat is a great tool. I’ve sat with brokers when they’ve used it, the response times are really good and the answers are really detailed as many of the advisers are CeMAP qualified themselves.