Please introduce yourself…
I am Richard Croll, Regional Sales Manager for Equifinance. I live close to Hampton Court Palace in South West London. Over the last 18 years, I have worked for GE Money, Lehman Brothers (SPPL), Step One Finance and HSBC for Intermediaries to name a few.
I have three daughters; Charlotte 18, Freya 13, and Jean 3, so together with my wife, I am completely outnumbered as you can imagine! I enjoy socialising with friends and family and supporting Arsenal football club, which is not easy when your Dad and two brothers are Spurs fans.
What locations do you cover?
My territory is the South and South Wales, which starts from the Midlands down to the south coast.
What do you like best about being in the secured loan industry?
Maintaining existing and building new relationships with broker partners is what I enjoy the best. It is the relationships and experience I have which I believe is at the heart of adding value to serve brokers to deliver the best possible customer outcomes.
What is the hardest thing about working in the secured loan industry?
The hardest thing for me and disappointingly so is the slow pace of growth in the industry post the credit crunch of 2008. I remember a Lehman brothers employee from Canary Wharf giving a presentation in 2006 explaining how the 2nd charge market was an estimated £6 to £7 billion a year industry in the UK, pre-COVID we were hovering at just over 1billion after 12 years since the crash.
How has COVID affected your role?
Because of the nature of what I do, I have always worked remotely, so working from home is nothing new. However, very few face to face visits are taking place at the moment having been replaced with proactive phone calls and video conference calls. I am also involved with broker referrals on a day to day basis and liaising with our underwriting team more closely. Capturing broker feedback is still a constant task to assist our internal teams to develop solutions for our broker partners and borrowers.
How has COVID affected the secured loan industry?
The Finance & Leasing Association released data that showed £40m of new second charge business was carried out in July this year, which was a fall of 65% on July 2019.
As a result of redundancy, we are now seeing movement in the broker community with people moving to other brokerages or joining traditional mortgage firms to set up 2nd charge and specialist lending propositions.
How do you overcome objections about secured loans to new brokers?
I have become quite a seasoned professional at handling objections to secured loans. In my view, there are several examples where a remortgage cannot take place and the only way to capital raise is via a 2nd charge mortgage - ERCs being the obvious example. Individuals in the industry have been banging the drum for many years but in my view the bigger the advertising and marketing budgets become, the more awareness and promotion can happen, resulting in fewer objections or oversight.
What advice would you give to another aspiring BDM new to the secured loan industry?
Always return calls is the primary one for BDMs. Then, in no particular order, try to be as knowledgeable as a senior underwriter, develop a thick skin, and remember service and maintaining relationships are everything.
If you could pick another job what would it be and why?
A live events promoter because I just love to put a project together and then sit back and watch the people attend and think to myself ‘this is all happening because of me’. In my early twenties I did promote club nights from time to time (It was good while it lasted!) If not this then maybe a fintech entrepreneur!!!!
Finally, tell us one thing about you that we do not already know!
Before I entered financial services, I worked in the music industry as a sound engineer at RAK recording studios owned by Micky Most, a famous record producer from the ‘60s. There I would rub shoulders with the likes of Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Robbie Williams, Travis and, most exciting of all, Robert Smith and The Cure.