"We’ve noticed a trend towards diversification among brokers": Holly Morrison, Paragon

We spoke to Holly Morrison, national account manager at Paragon Bank, about how being a national account manager differs from being a BDM, why she's currently seeing 'cautious optimism' in the market, and her advice for brokers wanting to diversify into new product areas.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight,  Mortgages
Rozi Jones | Editor, Barcadia Media Limited
5th July 2024
Holly Morrison Paragon
"I still get a sense that brokers are more confident than they would have been if you’d have asked me this the same time a year ago."

FR: You’ve been in the national account manager role for a couple of months now. How have you settled in?

Holly: I’m sure lots of people say this when they’re new to a role, but I feel like I’ve definitely hit the ground running. Prior to taking on the position, I was at Paragon for just over five years, working in a BDM role. During this time, I’ve built some great relationships within the company, as well as with our industry partners. Being promoted from within also has the advantage of not having to adjust to a new company with different systems, processes and overall culture, so it’s all been a smooth transition.

That said, when I started the role, we were just starting to hit event season, which is a really busy time for us, particularly this year because we’ve committed to lots more events so we can get out there and engage with brokers. It’s been really positive because I’ve had the support of my team, which includes fellow national account manager, Sally Wright, who has lots of experience.

FR: And how would you say it compares to your previous role?

I think the main difference is the shift from working in a reactive role as a BDM, to being more proactive.

On the business development side, your days are largely shaped by others. One of the most important aspects of being a BDM is being the point of contact for brokers; it’s really important for a BDM to be responsive, answering calls and emails with case updates and providing answers to any questions brokers may have.

As a national account manager, there is still a strong focus on supporting brokers, but it is just in a different way.

FR: How so?

Working as a BDM saw me work closely with brokers, supporting them with cases on an individual basis, discussing specific clients or properties, running through our underwriting process, providing ad hoc case updates or working out any complexities at completion stage.

As I said, my NAM role is also about supporting brokers, but this is in more of a broad way because it’s less about specific cases and more focused on helping mortgage networks and clubs to place more business with us overall.

FR: And how are you doing that?

Essentially, it’s about building relationships and demystifying what we do.

From speaking to brokers, we know that those that frequently work with us are really happy with Paragon. They know what we will and won’t lend on, our criteria and documentation requirements and how we work more generally, so they know if they have a certain case and the numbers stack up, we’ll look at it on its own merits and do what we can to make it work.

But there are some intermediaries out there that may have misconceptions about us – we have heard “Oh, I didn’t know Paragon would consider that” so many times - so we’re trying to change that.

Working with mortgage networks and clubs must give you a good grasp of how brokers are feeling.

FR: What’s the mood like at the moment, following the challenges of the past year or so?

I’ll use a phrase I’ve heard quite a bit this year because it still seems relevant – cautious optimism.

Although we’re clearly not out of the woods yet and it’s now looking like we’ll be waiting a little longer for Base Rate to come down, I still get a sense that brokers are more confident than they would have been if you’d have asked me this the same time a year ago. I think most are getting in more business now rates have settled following the highs seen last year.

FR: Are you seeing any key trends or themes?

One interesting theme that we’ve noticed is a trend towards diversification. We’ve certainly seen more firms look to tap into potential new sources of business, particularly those that have seen their traditional forms of business impacted by the challenging economic environment of the past year or so.

While there’s plenty of brokers out there that do a real mix, there are also some that are more resi-focused but looking to broaden their opportunities. Buy-to-let is a great way of doing this because it can offer repeat business to those that work closely with landlords who own multiple properties that need financing at different points in time. There is a perception that buy-to-let can be complex, however, so we’re trying to help brokers get a greater understanding of it, providing education on our areas of expertise like HMOs or limited companies, alongside insight on market trends.

FR: What advice would you give to those brokers who are interested in diversifying?

Brokers interested in diversifying into buy-to-let should take advantage of the support and education on offer. There’s tons of reports and webinars online and face-to-face events are great too as brokers can meet lenders’ business development managers, who will help get them up to speed with important aspects such as products and criteria.

Having a good working knowledge of the key considerations for landlord customers and keeping their finger on the pulse with the latest market trends will help intermediaries build relationships with landlords, who will value the advice and hopefully provide lots of repeat business.

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