Tell us about what you do here at Allica
My role is a combination of business development and supporting our existing broker panel in the South West. That means reaching out to brokers new to Allica to tell them about our products and what Allica is doing differently, then onboarding them to our panel.
Alongside this I provide tailored and personal support to brokers on our panel – helping them find the best solutions for their clients, and trying to make that as easy as possible for them.
How well do you know the South West of England?
I’ve been working in the South West for more than 20 years. It has this reputation for being a sleepy business environment where life’s a bit slower. And, while it’s true that people down here absolutely enjoy a less pressured environment – and, with the fantastic scenery we have, who can blame them – there’s still a lot of exciting companies looking to grow.
The key is to look beyond only the main population centres. One thing brokers like about Allica Bank is that we don’t buy into this perception among the larger banks that there’s nothing happening south of Bristol.
We’re happy to travel all around the region to visit brokers and their clients wherever they may be. There’s a lot of potential in the region and it’s a market that has struggled to get the financial backing it deserves over the years.
What is it you enjoy about working with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)?
I started my career working with large corporates but soon switched to working with smaller, independent businesses. I’ve never looked back since.
What I enjoy most is the direct impact our funding has on an SME. You can see in the owner’s face how much an investment matters. They’ll explain in detail how it’s going to safeguard their company’s future and, when it’s a family-run business, that matters!
The other thing is the sheer diversity of the work. One day I’ll be with a chocolatier who wants to expand their kitchens. The next I’ll be at a recycling unit talking to an owner looking to buy a massive piece of land to expand into. Then I’ll be sat in a hairdresser's who is ready to buy a third salon down the road.
I’ve learned just to ask questions and listen. It’s amazing how much I’ll learn in any given day!
How important do you think the broker community is to businesses in the South West?
There are three main reasons why brokers matter.
First, they have their finger on the pulse of the lending market. They know what funding options are available and which one is likely to best suit a particular business.
Second, brokers know what lenders like Allica Bank need to see from their clients. A lot of them are former bankers and accountants and know their way around finance. They understand what parts of the client’s balance sheet look good and those that might need some explanation.
Third, they’re independent. I happen to think that Allica is the best lending option for almost any SME, but you’ll probably want to take that with a pinch of salt! Brokers work with different funders and can recommend the one that’s right for the client.
What made you decide to join Allica Bank?
Having taken a three-year sabbatical to work in peer-to-peer development finance and bridging, I was keen to move back into banking.
But I didn’t want to join any old bank. I wanted to get back to basics and work for a company that would really support SMEs and not just pay lip service to their needs.
The more I found out about Allica, the more it fitted my own ethos and values. I want to get ahead by helping business owners succeed, which is exactly what Allica wants to do, too.
It’s also new. There’s no hierarchy or senior leadership team that’s stuck in their ways. We are tech-led, but also old-fashioned in the way we deal directly with people.
What’s something you’re most proud of?
When I started I was given a laptop and a phone and told to build a network of brokers. Within a year I’d brought on board 30 firms to Allica’s broker panel and 90 individuals. Last month I helped bring about £3.5m in drawdowns, which put me at the top of the completions list that month.
I’m proud that I achieved that from scratch. Allica is still an unknown quantity to many business leaders and people are rightly wary of new market entrants. They’ve seen a lot of lenders come and go.
It says a lot about our model and our community of brokers that we’ve built a business in the South West so quickly.
Tell us more about Allica Bank's broker distribution team
It sounds strange, but I’ve actually got to know my team better because of the pandemic. We have regular catch ups on Microsoft Teams, whereas in normal times I wouldn’t have had much need to spend time with colleagues elsewhere in the country. I hope that continues.
Because we’re a small team, we’re well-knitted together. I know who to turn to with a particular question or challenge. That just wouldn’t be the case in a larger organisation.
Anything you’re looking forward to this year?
Yes – a return to normality! I recently completed the training to be a rugby referee for the Somerset RFU. However, because of covid restrictions, I had to postpone joining up and taking charge of my first game.
I’ve got two boys and am also looking forward to watching them as they get back into their sport.
What job did you want to have when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a professional rugby player at school, but I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed!
You’re given a week off and can do whatever you want. What are you doing?
Definitely an active family holiday. I’d divide my time between the pool with my youngest, and some hair-raising extreme sport activity with the eldest. He’s into anything that looks dangerous. And we all love water slides…
What would you say to someone considering joining Allica Bank?
It’s an inclusive place where colleagues help each other. We’re fiercely competitive with other banks, but not with each other.
I’d say that if you do join, prepare for change. We work at a fast pace and things evolve day-by-day. That said, you won’t be left on your own. People will support you along the way.
Fancy joining the Allica Bank team? We'd love to hear from you! Check out our careers page to find out how.