Getting To Know Becky Owen - Bank North Regional Managing Director North West Pod

Becky Owen - Bank North Regional Managing Director North West Pod

What are the main functions of your role?

As the Regional Managing Director of the Bank North Manchester Pod, it's my responsibility to build an outstanding front line lending team who work together to deliver tailored finance to future customers. Our technology enables us to deliver at pace, but we understand SME (Small and medium-sized enterprise) borrowers need the human touch. So it's my role to lead the team to make sound lending recommendations, by working with our local risk colleagues who are based in the pod,alongside our customers and brokers to truly understand the business and their financial needs, allowing us to tailor appropriate funding solutions. Everyone in the Manchester Pod, and even the wider Bank North team, share in the success and pride when we deliver for customers.

With the Manchester Pod having already secured its first two deals, how did you prepare for its opening?

The Manchester Pod is the flagship office for Bank North and is well established now. We have built the team ready to scale our proposition over the coming months. We have secured some amazing talent with diverse backgrounds which create a really strong team. The team worked incredibly hard to build all of our systems & processes with the customer at the heart of everything to make the lending journey as frictionless as possible and we are in a good place to support more SME’s in our local community. Brokers are a key part of our strategy and we have been working closely with them throughout the build of the Bank, we will use our relationships to generate business as we progress towards our full launch as a bank.

How different from your previous roles is being involved in building a model from the ground?

Wow, where do I start? Poles apart - in a good way! I underestimated the skills I learned in a large organisation until I came to work in a start-up environment where an entrepreneurial approach is needed in abundance and on a daily basis. To have the opportunity to build from a blank piece of paper is amazing, to get things right for the customer rather than be constrained by legacy issues is very rewarding. I dare say I have learned more about banking in the past 18 months than I did in the past 20 years, as you get involved in all areas of the Bank, working with great colleagues all passionate and driven. We roll up our sleeves, work together and get the job done.

How important is it to have a localised approach to lending as opposed to centralised systems?

Being localised is massively important. Having experienced Lending Directors, Underwriters and Valuers working together in the Pod, operating in the local area and knowing the market enables us to make informed decisions at pace. We don't do one size fits all. What works for one region isn’t guaranteed to work for another region, and by being a decentralised, regional bank it enables us to assess every deal on its own merits, using strong intelligence on the local economics, and the impact this may have on a case by case basis. It also helps us to go beyond banking, using our local network of professionals and contacts to connect with our customers, forge relationships, support each other, create opportunities, and have a positive impact in local communities.

What words of wisdom would you give to SMEs thinking about borrowing, either to expand or stay afloat?

Take the time to step back from the business and work on it, not in it. I have seen many SME businesses grow and be successful yet the owners finds it hard to step back from the doing and delegate - this is even more important to do during challenging times as it gives you time to reflect and plan. Think about your short term recovery plan but also consider your long-term strategy and factor in the ability to respond to a fast-moving environment. Also, be prepared. Lenders look for a strong management team who have both the ability to diversify and respond to changing environments and the drive to exercise judgement and act in the best interests of the business on the road to recovery or expansion. Explore the market, if needed use a reputable commercial broker who has access to the whole market and will support you to get tailored finance solutions.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?

I work hard but enjoy downtime with the family, particularly our 3 children. The flexibility in my role helps me balance my time as much as possible - my children are my motivation and make me so proud. I love walking, and travelling is a massive passion of mine. I have always been passionate about giving back and raising money for various charities, both in my own time and through a team effort at work. I have been known to do the odd small property refurbishments which keep me busy on the rare occasion I have some spare time!

NACFB - Helping Fund Uk Business & FIBA - Financial Intermediary & Broker Association

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Bank North Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register number 848024). Bank North Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (company number 11030672) and its registered office is Suite 20A, Manchester One, 53 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 3LD.

Bank North has been Authorised with Restrictions since 24th August 2021, at which point the firm entered a phase known as mobilisation. During this phase, the bank will be undertaking lending activities but will not be accepting customer deposits.