"I’ve been keeping in regular contact with brokers over the phone and via email. I’ve also been trying to build a rapport with new brokers in that way."
In a change to our usual 'On the Road' series, we instead caught up remotely with Thomas Humphreys, telephony BDM at Gatehouse Bank, to discuss how he's adapting to working from home and how lockdown has helped him to build a rapport with new brokers.
FR: What do your working days look like?
I have tried to keep a similar routine while working from home, waking up at the same time every day. I usually start around 8am, which is the same time I would arrive in the office, as I like to start a bit earlier and get organised for the day ahead.
During the initial lockdown period, the Bank reduced some products to 60% Finance-to-Value (FTV) and physical valuations were unable to take place. While it was a little quieter than usual, I took on some additional duties, helping to assist the direct team with new enquiries; the broker support team with the payment of procuration fees and registering new brokers to Gatehouse Bank.
Business has picked up again since the housing market reopened and the Bank has increased its FTVs and I’m back to doing my normal day job, although still working from home. With brokers coming back from furlough, we’ve been picking up exactly where we left off in March. Our products are competitive at the moment so we‘ve been attracting a lot of new brokers too.
FR: What’s your preferred way of keeping in touch with brokers and colleagues?
I’ve been keeping in regular contact with brokers over the phone and via email. I’ve also been trying to build a rapport with new brokers in that way. As a telephony BDM, this is not much different from my usual role in the office. In addition, I have been running virtual introducer meetings, where our national key account manager, Sim Gill, and I take brokers through a quick ‘Welcome to Gatehouse Bank’ session showing them our processes. The feedback received suggests that this approach has been working very well.
My team has people based in Milton Keynes and Wilmslow, before lockdown it could be difficult for us all to get together, however I feel that we have been communicating a lot more with each other during this period, and that has made us even stronger as a team. Every morning we have a huddle as a team, held via Microsoft Teams where we discuss what we have planned for the day and talk through any enquiries we have had so we can draw off each other’s experience.
FR: Are you still able to submit proposals and get decisions/completions?
During the first few weeks of the lockdown, the Bank put some applications on hold due to physical valuations being unable to take place, once these were allowed to happen again, we went back to these applications and progressed them.
During lockdown, the Bank remained fully operational and were able to continue to offer finance to our brokers and customers and were also able to finalise a lot of completions.
FR: Suit for work time or joggers and T-shirt?
I wear more casual clothes at home than I did in the office, which is good because the room I’m working in is quite warm compared to an air-conditioned office.
FR: What have you learned about yourself in lockdown?
Being at home on my own, rather than in the office, has made me fully understand any changes being made rather than rely on my colleagues around me. When being briefed, I ensure I completely understand the changes and ask questions if I am unsure. I feel like I’ve expanded my knowledge on the Bank’s policies and criteria which means I can answer enquiries quickly and more efficiently.
FR: How have you been spending your down time during lockdown?
I usually go to the gym after work, so I have been trying to do some running instead. My friends and I did a challenge to run 5k every day for 30 days. Running has been good at getting me out of the house and keeping me focused.
FR: What do you miss most during lockdown?
Socialising, particularly when at work. We have a very friendly work environment and I do miss that, as well as general socialising with friends.
FR: What benefits has it had (if any!)?
I have increased my fitness since lockdown due to the additional time I have had to enable me to increase my runs. Also, my hair has definitely grown!