"What the phone can’t replace is the getting out and about and speaking to people in person."
I love my job and I love this industry, it’s all I’ve ever known, having been a mortgage broker for two and a half years after graduating and then joining Accord Mortgages in 2018 as a business development manager.
It’s safe to say most BDMs will tell you that the best bit of their job is visiting brokers, speaking to them, learning what makes them tick and having the time to find solutions to their client’s needs.
So when government guidelines were issued and we were all told we were no longer to go out and meet brokers and would be based at home “until further notice”, our worlds changed. But we still have a job to do, and now communicating and sharing information with brokers, albeit through different channels is incredibly important.
The ‘new’ working day
With no dashing out the door to travel to my first appointment, my mornings have got a bit longer and I’ve been able to start every day with exercise, which has been great at keeping me going. I get up and either go for a run or do a home workout and having done that I feel energised to start the day. I’m also trying extremely hard to remain healthy, and having a green smoothie for breakfast.
Any of my brokers or colleagues will know that I love wearing bright and colourful work attire and although I thought I’d never admit it, I miss my high heeled shoes! But at the moment, I’m settling for a fresh set of comfies for my working day.
My first job is checking emails and replying to any enquiries which have come in overnight. The amount of these has increased significantly since we all started working from home, which I’m grateful for, as I much prefer to be busy.
The rest of my morning is filled by offering support to brokers in every way that I can, through taking inbound calls, making outbound calls and being active on our webchat service. The webchat is probably the part of my role which is most different. Although as a lender, we’ve offered this function for a while through our business development advisers, it’s not something I’ve operated before and I love it! Brokers can provide a satisfaction score to us afterwards which rates how effectively the call was handled and if the query was resolved and it’s so satisfying to get that immediate feedback and know you’ve helped brokers all over the country, not just those in my patch. I can’t pretend it’s not slightly competitive between our team to do the best job you can and get the highest scores, but as a team we are currently averaging 9.5 out of 10, so we’re setting a high bar!
It has been amazing to be constantly available on the phone and I’ve been able to use the extra time to speak to more people. I’ve had conversations with so many brokers in my patch that I either haven’t spoken to before or only had contact with once or twice and I’m quickly building a long list of people I can’t wait to go and visit in person when the lockdown restrictions are eased.
I’m currently living with my parents and brother, so lunch is a family affair, which is great and we can all reflect our morning experiences. The afternoon is filled with much of the same activity, making sure I can maintain my ongoing support to all of the brokers in my patch and beyond. We also have regular conference calls with our team, to ensure we are completely up to date with the latest developments.
I very much miss my busy lifestyle and being in one place all day has been a struggle, so I tend to split my day between two different working environments. The first one is the kitchen breakfast bar where I enjoy a fantastic view of the garden and have the added bonus of easy access to the coffee machine. However, the downside of this space is that other family members are also at home and trying to concentrate whilst the vacuum cleaner is in full swing can be challenging! I’m also unhealthily close to the fridge, which is too tempting.
So, I often retreat to my dad’s office, which is a separate building at the rear of our house. Dad also works in the mortgage industry and all of his team are now working from home, so the empty desks provide a perfect working space for me. We like to call it our little ‘mortgage hub’ in the back garden!
Learning to adapt
What the phone can’t replace is the getting out and about and speaking to people in person. One of my favourite things (and something I enjoy posting about online) is my travels around the beautiful South West countryside with ‘Wilbur’. Wilbur is my Accord ‘welcome box’ which is a hamper filled with foodie treats. Anyone who completes a purchase with Accord is sent a welcome box on behalf of their broker (no Accord branding at all). It’s a really nice surprise for the borrower on moving in, but also tends to generate plenty of positive feedback and referrals for advisers. I cannot wait to take Wilbur out on the road again and enjoy lunch overlooking the sea, or sit on a bench outside Salisbury cathedral.
On a personal level, I think everyone is developing coping strategies to keep them sane in this unusual time. Luckily, I am part of a family that has several vivacious characters so it’s almost like a competition to see who can come up with the next crazy stunt. We have made comedic videos, re-enacted songs from films and I even hosted a Vegas-themed dinner party where we played poker until the early hours. The feeling of boredom hasn’t set in as of yet as our competitive nature seems to know no bounds. There’s always another joke, another video, another challenge or some scheme to keep us all entertained. I truly think our positive attitude towards lockdown will see us through.
Having said that, I deeply miss my social life, my extended family and my friends. Whilst pre-lockdown, when life was full with meals out, parties, working, conferences and events, I would often long for a night in, I am now desperate to get back to my busy life!
I’m also looking forward to the long journeys through the beautiful scenery of the South West where I can listen to music and get lost in my own thoughts. But most of all, I am looking forward to seeing my brokers, turning up for an appointment and being welcomed with a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile.