The bridging industry is quite unusual in that it tends to attract people with diverse experience. The roots of bridging originated in accountancy (my background) and law with the training and technical skills inherent in those two professions being naturally transferable to scenarios involving personal and corporate finance, matters of title and contractual obligations.
However, as the industry has matured the traits of a successful bridging professional have tended to move towards the softer side. The ability to think laterally, to quickly analyse and understand scenarios, to make reasoned risk-based decisions and a talent for bringing a degree of creativity when structuring solutions are the most important skills someone can bring to bridging. In addition, broker and customer facing roles demand the usual interpersonal skills of any successful salesperson; the organisational skills of a good relationship manager combined with approachability, dependability, knowledgeability and a passion for delivering outstanding service. Pricing is important, but only one factor in a broker or customer’s decision-making. If they have confidence in a person’s ability to deliver, more often than not that person will win the deal.
Individuals who excel in these areas become highly sought after. Calls from ‘head-hunters’ or competitors tempting them to move become regular occurrences. To retain the best people, employers must ensure they continue to provide a rewarding daily work-life and longer-term career prospects. Although money is an important motivator for successful bridging professionals, it’s not the only one. Job satisfaction, a strong team and the pleasure of working with other likeminded, talented, clever and creative individuals can be just as important as the number printed on your pay slip.
Recruit for attitude, train for skills
One of the most satisfying parts of building a team is developing people with the right attitude and work ethic into fully rounded bridging professionals. UTB tries to develop people within the business where possible. Staff who show an aptitude and a willingness to learn and progress often start by shadowing more experienced people before forging their own path and creating their own successful style of working, becoming stars in their own right. This applies to all divisions of the Bank, not just bridging, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to grow so successfully in the last few years.
I think Sir Richard Branson, or the Virgin HR team anyway, sum up my attitude to recruiting and then developing staff with these rules. The first is ‘recruit for attitude, train for skills’ and the second is that you should train your staff well enough so they can leave, and treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
UTB’s values perfectly encapsulate the skills and behaviours required to be successful in the bridging industry: tenacity, teamwork, integrity and service. If you are up for the challenge of working in an exciting, constantly evolving but demanding environment, enjoying the highs of success and camaraderie of your colleagues and have the resilience to get back up from the inevitable knocks, then the bridging industry may be the right career for you.