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Our People | Meet Stuart Burke

At Redwood Bank, our people are firmly at the heart of everything we do. We understand that when you, our customers, work with us, you want and expect a personal relationship to enable quick decision making and flexible solutions. This is why we’ve taken some time out to speak to the people that power Redwood Bank. 

When Redwood’s Head of Underwriting is not working, he is busy watching/playing sport and speaking Italian. Stuart has run two half-marathons and there are not many sports he has not yet tried.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My wife, snoring! But seriously, I’m a morning person, and I’m always up early, looking forward to the challenges of the day ahead. I need no other motivation.
If you weren’t doing this, you’d be…
Playing golf, or travelling around Italy, improving my language skills.
What’s one thing you know now about banking that you didn’t three years ago?
There isn’t a one size fits all style of lending, and as I have moved into different areas of lending, you need to remain flexible in your approach and acknowledge that there may not always be a perfect deal.
Hence, you need to separate the ‘need to haves’ from the ‘nice to haves’ and focus on how you can address and get comfortable with the underlying risks.
In addition, and I think this gets more important the longer you are in the industry, tailor your presentation style (and language) based on your audience.
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was “be yourself – you can’t be anyone else, so don’t pretend”.
What has been your proudest moment to date while being at Redwood?
Having been accepted into the Redwood family so easily. I know it’s been said before, but the ethos of the Bank is so collegiate and encouraging that you are accepted for who you are and what you bring to the table.
I have had plenty of opportunities to get involved in project work, shaping policy, and presenting to senior management committees, all of which have been well received. Oh, and of course, managing a fantastic, high-performing team.
Challengers vs high street banks – is there a place for both?
Absolutely. Challenger banks have different risk appetites and fill holes where high street banks may not want to go. There is clearly an overlap but challenger banks, such as Redwood, are able to differentiate on turnaround times, pricing, and the ability to think outside the box, where high street lenders tend to be more formulaic and based on credit scores and automated decisioning.
What should we watch out for in the wider industry in the next three years? Any game-changers on the horizon?
Regulators will always look to change things, and I expect formal regulation of the buy-to-let (BTL) industry will not be far away. What form this will take remains to be seen, but I think this is just a matter of time.
I hope that this will level the playing field, as some lenders are simply taking a view based on loan to value (LTV), which cannot be in the best interests of the borrower.
In addition, given the need to balance the books, I expect taxation to be at the forefront of government policy over the next few years, and this may well also have a negative impact on the residential BTL sector.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in banking?
Be a sponge – learn all that you can and from everyone you can and take your banking exams. The exams are great as they provide a true all-round background about many aspects of banking, including financial accounting and the legal aspects of lending structures and typical concerns.
Finally, find someone who you believe in – a manager or senior leader – and get them to tell you what they believed were their pitfalls, and ask them to mentor you.
What keeps you up at night/anything on your mind?
Probably thinking about decisions made during the day and whether I could have done things differently.
Tell us something about you we don’t know please?
I won a national spoken Italian competition when I was 16. I have recently picked up learning Italian again. I love the language, culture, and (especially) the food!
I support Tottenham Hotspur and I used to hold a season ticket. I was also a keen sportsman, and competed at a decent level of football, cricket, squash, tennis, skiing.
I have run two half marathons, and still try my best at golf!
From a musical perspective, I like The Beatles, Coldplay, REM, U2, Dire Straits, Oasis, and old style 1980s/90s stuff.
What three people, dead or alive, would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill, and Paul McCartney.

Learn more about the Redwood Bank team