In this new series, we learn more about the brokers we work closely with, finding out interesting and useful insights.
We spoke with Phil Gray from Watts Commercial Finance in our third Meet the Brokers interview.
The team at Watts have a proven track record of arranging commercial funding for a large variety of businesses from sole traders to multi-million-pound limited companies. Phil led Watts through the tumultuous years brought on by the credit crunch, and champions the firm’s key principles which are based around honesty, integrity, excellent communication, service and most importantly delivering outstanding results.
The management team at Watts all have banking experience. What difference does that make to the customer?
Phil Gray: Having a strong leadership team with years of banking experience hugely benefits our clients as together we have the expert knowledge to tackle any problems that they may face. After receiving 16 years of excellent training at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest, I am equipped with the knowledge and expertise that is needed to offer the best support to our clients. With clients seeking the most benefits from an experienced team, we now only recruit applicants with a strong banking background.
Tell us more about your recruitment process?
Phil Gray: Firstly, we only employ managers who have worked in the banking sector as this means they already have outstanding product and industry knowledge. Even though we only accept experienced applicants, our managers still take part in a six-week product training programme before having contact with clients to ensure they are up to date with the market.
With more than 250 lenders on our panel, our managers need to learn what’s available across the market so that they can offer the best possible advice to our clients. As an example, it is like going to play golf with only one club, but our initial training gives them a bag of multiple clubs to be more successful.
Our training ultimately allows new managers to have a greater understanding of the commercial finance world, application planning and reading sets of accounts. We are proud to say that our managers are not just focused on commercial mortgages, but instead they have a cross-spectrum of knowledge.
What makes the Watts Commercial Finance different?
Phil Gray: It is definitely our talented team. Being the Managing Director at Watts Commercial Finance is like being the manager of the greatest football team and working alongside the best footballers. Our Watts family consists of 36 hard-working and dedicated employees, across five UK bases, with 10 members of staff joining the team during the pandemic.
We are also different because we offer our clients a ‘back-to-the-future’ lending approach. Our team members invest their time to build personal relationships with our clients by arranging meetings, in the same way a bank manager would have 60 years ago.
I believe that a great commercial finance broker has the attitude of a 1960s bank manager, with 21st century technology and 250 lenders at their disposal.
How did you hear about Redwood?
Phil Gray: We have been working with Redwood since it first launched back in 2017 and I have known Redwood’s Head of Business Development for the North Region, Chris Finnigan, for years after we previously worked together at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
How have you found working with Redwood?
Phil Gray: Over the years, Redwood has provided us with an excellent, personal service. Throughout my career most Business Development Managers (BDMs) have visited me to just tick a box and leave some leaflets behind.
However, the BDMs at Redwood really add value by educating us on the Bank’s deals, products and services. Chris is an excellent BDM to work with as he drives the deal through to completion and keeps us updated the entire time. Brokers should not underestimate how powerful it is having a Redwood BDM on their team.