The Five Minute Interview with Stuart Kelly, Head of Lending and Credit, Shawbrook Bank
Shawbrook is a specialist savings and lending bank that offers a straightforward, no-nonsense alternative to the high street. In August 2012 Shawbrook announced it had broken even less than a year since it launched.
We speak to Head of Lending and Credit, Stuart Kelly:
What is the best thing about being in the bridging finance business?
Probably the opportunity to work alongside broker partners to assist clients who have proven track records and clear strategies. I find it satisfying in particular to work with brokers and their clients right from the start of their journey. And working on deals that are submitted and completed within a week are especially gratifying!
What keeps you focused?
My wife, 3 kids and mortgage – not necessarily in that order! Workwise I find it focusing to ensure that, although Shawbrook is growing rapidly, the lending decisions made by our mandated lending managers are sensible. I’m genuinely committed to helping grow a strong balance sheet which gives our customers, our brokers – and ultimately all of the team here – a bank that’s here to stay.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
Common sense and a good sense of humour. We’re really lucky with the team here – everyone is extremely passionate and determined to drive business forward, but at the same time they’re all great people and good company. Being able to laugh is really important in a pressured work environment I think.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Most definitely an optimist (see the answer to the next question – I have to be!) As Head of Lending & Credit people might expect me to be a pessimist, but to succeed within a credit role you need to be balanced and be able to take a common sense approach.
What did you want to be as a child?
I was dead-set on playing football for Luton Town FC. I still think I could do a job for them actually! I’ve supported them all my life and, while we’ve fallen on hard times recently, the passion of our support remains the same. Plus everyone knows we’ll be back playing at a higher level and winning trophies again soon (if I keep saying this it must come true one day, right?)
What will be the greatest challenge facing the bridging finance industry in the coming months?
There are a few challenges on the horizon. Obviously regulation is always looming, and I think the lack of complete transparency from a number of lenders in the market is making this regulation more likely. Fees and incentivising brokers for business are also very much on the agenda with the FCA, and ensuring brokers are protected – by guaranteeing lender transparency on fees and commissions – is something that Shawbrook is working to set the standard for.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Micky Flanagan and any film with Will Ferrell in it. There are also a few colleagues in the office who can have me in stitches – most of the time intentionally…
Do you dread Monday mornings?
No. Luckily I enjoy my job and the working environment at Shawbrook… despite the traffic on the M25!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d make myself slightly less cynical. Having said that, my cynicism can lead to some interesting debates, and I suppose it helps ensure the team here are balanced…
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
January Jones… for conversation of course! I’m also a huge fan of Robert De Niro’s movies, and am sure he’d be interesting to talk to. Finally I would invite Kofi Annan (UN Secretary General) in the hope he’d have some tips for me on refereeing arguments between my two sons!