Please introduce yourself…
I am Laura Thomas, Regional BDM for Equifinance. I live in a small village called Ewloe in North Wales (Near Chester) and over the last 25 years have previously worked for the Bank of Scotland, The Funding Corporation, Norton Finance, Together and Digitonomy.
What locations do you cover?
I work in the West Midlands and the North right up to Scotland (Perth to be exact, beautiful place!).
What do you like best about being in the secured loan industry?
The brokers! I love being out and about meeting the brokers and their teams; I love getting all their insight and industry knowledge and using it to help shape our products. The award do’s are always a great laugh too!
What is the hardest thing about working in the secured loan industry?
Second charge rates are reflective of added risk and the rates are higher than that of a first charge. Therefore, educating brokers who usually see capital raising in terms of remortgages to appreciate the value that second charge loans can bring to their proposition to customers is probably the biggest challenge. However, once they can see the advantages to their customers in certain circumstances, new business is never far behind. Also, the competition of other lenders keeps us on our toes, but the industry is great for lenders working together and we respect and work well with our competitors.
How has Covid affected your role?
I was really looked after by Equifinance. I was placed on furlough but updated throughout of the company’s plans to return to the market. I am working from home more than ever before and miss the broker visits. However, thanks to Zoom and the good old-fashioned telephone I speak to more brokers now than ever before.
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. In addition to lenders having to make restrictions on certain products; mortgage payment holidays, job industry and furlough are now part of the day-to-day decision making when lending to a client. However, the stability of housing prices is extremely positive.
How do you overcome objections about secured loans to new brokers?
This is my favourite ‘debate’ when meeting a new mortgage broker who has never sold a secured loan! I am passionate about explaining when a second charge may be a more viable option than a remortgage. Explaining how taking a client out of a low rate or fantastic mortgage deal may not be the best option and how second charges can be a fantastic and efficient way of raising money without disrupting the first charge gives me a real sense of satisfaction.
What advice would you give to another aspiring BDM new to the secured loan industry?
Always call people back! Try and answer queries quickly and accurately and if you do not know the
answer to a question, be honest by telling the person you don’t know and then find out the
answer. Also, pick up a Costa loyalty card, the reward points are invaluable when you are out on the
If you could pick another job what would it be and why?
At this point in time I wish I had opened a hand sanitiser company! In all seriousness, I am lucky that I really enjoy my job and the lending industry, however in a dream world I would have loved to have been a fashion designer.
Finally, tell us one thing about you that we do not already know!
I passed my motorbike test ten years ago as was teased by friends that I couldn’t do it but have never ridden a motorbike since!