Meet Michael Horner, Business Relationship Manager at Allica Bank

Tell us about what you do here at Allica

I’m Allica Bank’s business development manager for the North East and North Yorkshire. My job is to support brokers and other intermediaries, helping them get the best lending outcomes for their small and medium-sized business (SME) clients.

In practice, that means working together with a broker to understand their client and what they’re looking to achieve from a commercial mortgage. I’ll talk them through our credit appetite, explain our products and outline the information we’ll need to process their application quickly, and hopefully with a positive response.

I’m also out there banging the drum for Allica Bank, showcasing to businesses and brokers in the North what could make us a great partner for them.

So, you know your patch well then…

I’ve lived and worked in the North East almost my entire life. That’s almost 20 years spent advising local small to mid-sized businesses on their financial needs.

I’ve worked for high street banks and in consultancy roles. My career spans relationship management, asset-based lending, commercial mortgages, transactional work like management buy-outs, and specialist lending such as invoice discounting.

Throughout, I’ve focussed on supporting intermediaries - brokers, business advisors, and accountants – as they look for the best outcomes for their clients.

I like to think I’m pretty well-known within the North East’s small and medium-sized business scene. And I’m really enjoying getting to know the broker community north of the M62 corridor, too.

What is it you enjoy about working with North East businesses?

There’s just so much variety. Every business we work with is different. Clients work across retail, manufacturing, transport, construction… you name it, they do it. And each business has a unique story to tell and individual lending needs, which makes for a really stimulating work environment.

Also, I grew up in a family that started and ran small businesses. I know first-hand just how important it is to have the right funding advice and support in place. I’ll never get bored of seeing a business grow off the back of our lending.

How important do you think the broker community is to businesses in the North East?

Brokers provide a well-rounded understanding of the lending market and how to access it. Most small and medium-sized businesses can’t justify having a full time Finance Director, while there’s rarely a high street bank branch manager to ask for help anymore. Brokers fill that gap, providing much needed financial guidance and answers to questions that a business didn’t even know existed.

And the value brokers provide will only increase as we come out of the pandemic. We don’t know how much longer businesses will be affected and what support will be on offer. It will be crucial that business owners have someone they trust that can provide a 360-degree view of all the options and advice tailored to their business.

What made you decide to join Allica Bank?

I talked to Nick Baker, Allica Bank’s Managing Director - Intermediaries, and it was clear the bank’s views and values align with my own. Like Allica, I’m passionate about supporting SMEs, as I’ve seen the difference the right funding can make.

I’ve worked for larger banks and, while there’s a lot of benefits, I prefer the opportunities that come with working for a bank that is taking a fresh look at how to serve the broker and business market. I was excited to take the Allica Bank proposition and roll it out locally here in the North East. Here, my voice is heard and everyone can make suggestions – some of which become bank policy.

What’s something you’re most proud of?

We recently won three awards – including Business Relationship Manager Team of the Year – at the NACFB Awards. I’m so proud because the team has worked incredibly hard and supported each other so generously during lockdown. It was nice to be recognised for that on such a renowned, national stage.

It’s really unusual for a bank to be singled out like this so soon after launch. It’s testament to the great partnership we have with our broker partners.

Tell us more about your team

There are currently eight of us. We come from a range of backgrounds and get on really well – someone is always there to lend a hand if need be.

Joining the bank during lockdown has been odd, of course. We’d usually have a monthly meeting where members of team come together in the same room from across the country – whereas I’ve not met most of them in person yet! But we still have a great culture. If there’s something we need to ask, we just pick up the phone and chat it through.

Also, we’re growing fast – we’ve doubled in size since I joined – but that collegiate approach still shines through.

Anything you’re looking forward to this year?

My job is all about talking to business leaders and the brokers who support them, so I can’t wait to get back on the road.

There’s nothing better than touring a factory, warehouse or shopfloor and hearing a business owner’s plans for the future. They’re such a passionate group, and it really comes through when you’re there in the flesh.

Sitting down over a coffee is a great way to bond with a client and see how we can help.

What job did you want to have when you were growing up?

I always wanted to make movies as writer or director. I did look at film school but ended up in finance somehow. I still love watching films and, who knows, maybe there are local producers we can help with financing one day!

The pandemic restrictions have been lifted. You’re given a week off and can do whatever you want. What are you doing?

Even though we’ve been stuck at home together for a long time, I’d choose a family holiday. I’d hire a big cottage in Lake District for my wife and kids, and bring both sets of parents along. We’d go to the pub every night and make up for all this lost time with our nearest and dearest.

What would you say to someone considering joining Allica Bank?

It’s a great culture – we all work together really well and everyone has pulled together in difficult circumstances.

It’s also a great opportunity. There’s a real appetite to get deals done and our team have a clear line of communication with the credit department, so you can make things happen.

I’d 100% recommend it!

Fancy joining the Allica Bank team? We'd love to hear from you! Check out our careers page to find out how.

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