Broker Focus: Sarah Fox-Clinch, director, Fox Davidson

Describe your firm in a few sentences.
Fox Davidson is a relationship brokerage. We like to form long-lasting relationships with our clients so we can help them throughout their lives with all their mortgage and protection needs.
We work for a broad spectrum of clients, including individuals who have unusual income, sportspeople, contractors, ex-pats and people earning in foreign currencies. We also help clients buying slightly out-of-the-ordinary homes, such as properties with large acreage, those that are timber framed, and semi-commercial and mixed-use types. Other clients come to us to finance commercial investments and purchases, and for development finance on site.
What led you to become a broker?
I am a people person and a problem solver. Being a broker combines both of those.
After leaving university, I worked for Orange (the phone company) and loved being in a call centre interacting with people. I then joined RBS in a branch and progressed to work for Bristol & West in the mortgage division.
This gave me a really good grounding in the technical aspects of mortgages and, once I’d qualified, I left to become a whole-of-market broker in 2005.
What are the biggest issues facing you as a broker?
It is these uncertain times of Brexit. However, having been a broker for many years now I know that, as long as we work hard, really look after our clients and stay strong, we can ride out any blips in the market.
The broker market is also moving quickly with regard to technology and how we interact with our clients. Being able to change with the times is essential.
Clients expect a different service than they did even five years ago, and being proactive and using all the tools available can be a learning curve, but it pays dividends.
What single thing could lenders do to improve brokers’ lives the most?
Any innovation with criteria is always very welcome. We tend to work with a lot of clients who may have unusual income or need a mortgage secured on a non-standard property. Being able to speak with underwriters, explain a case and have them understand and agree is brilliant. We give
lenders feedback and, when they alter criteria or create something bespoke, we really appreciate it. Having direct interaction with underwriters has always been and will always be essential.
It’s great when lenders remember this and put it back into their sales process. It’s so nice to get a call from the underwriter after we have submitted a case, just to chat it over. We can then explain any oddities and, once everyone understands the client’s situation, we find that applications fly through.
What plans do you have for the future of your firm?
We have a really strong team and are looking to give our brokers more flexibility in how they work and interact with clients. This is via technology and face-to-face interaction and will enhance our already strong client relationships.
Our protection side of the business is also growing and we are focusing on personal and business protection for all our clients, as it is essential they have the correct cover in place. We have a dedicated protection broker who specialises in bespoke policies. We are looking to take on another mortgage broker and increase our business volumes.
We always have big plans at Fox Davidson and like to chat over ideas with a Friday pint.
What advice would you give a broker just starting their career?
Work hard. The broker marketplace is a competitive one and you really need to shine to be recognised as a top broker.
Try to really learn rates and criteria, and get to know the lenders. These are essentially your colleagues, and forming good relationships with them will help throughout your career. You will have the odd case refused, or a client go elsewhere, but learn from these; see how you could have done it differently. Work hard, learn quickly, form working relationships – but most of all have fun and enjoy helping your clients.
If you would like your firm to be featured in Broker Focus, please email Mortgage Strategy reporter Jake Carter at:
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