Pepper has recently bolstered its team of business development managers and the new team is keen to fire things up and reach more brokers.
No one can deny that Pepper is a group on the move.
Over the past 12 months, it has listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, launched its first ever direct-to-consumer advertising campaign, teamed up with the St Kilda Football Club as principal partner and renewed its sponsorship of the Western Sydney Wanderers for a further three years.
It had its biggest year on record in 2015, surging through five months of consistent month-on-month growth, keeping service levels well up to scratch the entire time.
The group is highly regarded by brokers. This much was confirmed when Pepper took out the top gong in The Adviser’s Third Party Lending Report – Non-Banks for Best Specialist Lender.
Pepper’s operations are not limited to Australia, with 1,400 total staff taking the group to new heights across Australasia, Asia and Europe.
However, Pepper’s global expansion and key movements in the past 12 months have not distracted the group from its focus on the third-party channel.
This is typified by the induction of eight new BDMs, bringing the group to a total of 19 on the road to provide support to brokers.
The Adviser spoke to three of these recently-appointed BDMs about their new role and what they’ll be doing to drive Pepper forward in the coming years.
• Pepper BDM since: September 2015
• Operation area: New South Wales
• Big focus for 2016: Helping brokers grow their business
James Brett was so keen to become a Pepper BDM that when an opportunity arose, he approached Mario Rehayem, Pepper’s director of sales and distribution, directly.
“It was cooking for a while as I have known the NSW-Qld regional manager of Pepper, Justin Dale, for a number of years and he encouraged me to speak to Mario directly once the position of a BDM became available,” Mr Brett says.
“I was always keen on the Pepper proposition.”
In his NSW-based role, Mr Brett is responsible for looking after several franchise groups, including Aussie, Mortgage Choice, Loan Market, Outsource Financial and nMB.
While his new role hasn’t been short of challenges, the experience has been a positive one.
“I’m working with a couple of groups I haven’t worked with before so it’s a new challenge getting to know new management and getting to know new brokers in the marketplace I haven’t worked with before, but that’s a good thing,” Mr Brett says.
“It gives me the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, increase my network in the industry and share information.”
Mr Brett is looking forward to expanding his relationships with brokers and offering them important insights for business growth prospects.
“The beauty of a BDM is because they’re in touch with such a diverse range of brokers, from the small to the large, to the experienced to the new, they will often have little tips to share with brokers on best practice,” he says.
“That’s what I love about my job. I’m able to invest the time to help brokers grow at Pepper in this particular area.”
• Pepper BDM since: October 2015
• Operation area: South Australia
• Big focus for 2016: Education and training
Stathis Papastergos is part of a two-person team based in South Australia.
Mr Papastergos joined Pepper after taking a break from his role as a home finance manager for Westpac.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” he says. “I am passionate about helping brokers help their customers.”
What Mr Papastergos likes most about his new role is the opportunities it gives him to work with brokers through further education and training.
“Outside of the personal benefits, the flexibility and the ability to manage my own diary, the thing I enjoy most is probably the education – being able to educate and teach people something they didn’t already know,” he says.
“A true BDM, from my interpretation, is someone who adds value to a broker’s business. It doesn’t necessarily mean just selling a product. It means educating them, increasing their knowledge, increasing their revenue and helping them grow their business.”
In 2016, Mr Papastergos intends to further familiarise himself with all things Pepper so he can offer the best service possible to his broker partners.
“Being fairly new to the role, my focus is still becoming very familiar with everything Pepper has to offer,” he says.
“In addition, my main focus is to get out there into South Australia and just shake it up a little bit and really educate the brokers down here because unfortunately we are a little bit isolated but it’s an opportunity for us to open their eyes to another world.
“This year is a big year of transition for me within Pepper so my goal is to go from feeling like the new guy to feeling like an experienced, innovative BDM.”
• Pepper BDM since: August 2015
• Operation area: Queensland
• Big focus for 2016: Assisting as many brokers as possible
For Kerry Sainsbury, the role of a BDM is both rewarding and satisfying.
Ms Sainsbury joined Pepper last year, bringing with her 14 years of industry experience.
“As a Pepper BDM, I am responsible for educating my portfolio of 600 brokers on the range of alternative solutions available through specialist lending,” she says.
“I enjoy learning about brokers’ businesses and showing them how Pepper can help them grow. It’s very satisfying adding value to a broker’s business and helping them to help their customers achieve their goals.”
Ms Sainsbury says her new job suits her outgoing, personable and relationship-orientated personality.
“I have previously come from a credit assessor role where it was very ‘tick box’,” she says.
“Pepper manually assesses every file, we don’t credit score and we always think outside the square.
“I am passionate about getting the word out there about Pepper, on exactly what we can do.”
Having the chance to offer assistance to those in need is always a rewarding part of the job, Ms Sainsbury adds.
“There is no ‘bad customer’. There are just life events that occur to good people,” she says.
Ms Sainsbury says being a BDM at Pepper is worlds apart from being a BDM anywhere else.
“It is great to be a BDM and not have any escalation issues, our SLAs (service level agreement) consistently remains the same,” she says.
“We are very fortunate to have fantastic back-end support that allows us to offer a same day turnaround time.”
“2016 is going to be Pepper’s biggest year yet,” Ms Sainsbury says, adding. “It’s exciting to be with Pepper now, where we’re evolving and growing into such a successful business.”
A word from the wise
Lee Prior, Pepper’s national sales manager – mortgage broker distribution channel, breaks down how Pepper’s BDMs are intensifying the group’s support offering to brokers.
Why has Pepper decided to recruit so many new BDMs?
We like to stay ahead of the curve on recruitment. At Pepper, our value proposition remains firmly entrenched in providing industry-leading service standards, including same day turnaround, so we need to ensure that those standards are never questioned, hence why our team is growing and will continue to grow.
How have the BDMs helped drive Pepper forward?
With the support of a dedicated scenarios team, our BDMs are able to be on the road full-time, making face-to-face visits with brokers. The majority of brokers are not writing specialist business day-in, day-out, so it’s a matter of keeping front of mind for when a deal does come across the table. By having the extra people power we can increase our footprint and they’ve been instrumental in doing that.
What do you look for in a BDM?
We’re looking for someone who’s going to act with integrity and fit our entrepreneurial culture. They’ve got to be energetic, they’ve got to be enthusiastic and also understand and appreciate that there is a customer at the end of our transactions. If a customer is coming to us, they’re often looking for a solution so there’s got to be that element of empathy in our BDMs who understand that and can relay that through our brokers internally to the end customer.
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