Meet the expert: Together Corporate’s MD Chris Baguley.
Growing up in a family with a strong banking background, Chris has always had deep roots in the world of business and finance. From an early age his late father was always his greatest mentor, instilling the importance of a strong work ethic and supporting people around him.
Now, as Managing Director of Together’s Corporate arm, he’s taking a look back over the experiences which have shaped him as a person and his career journey to date.
Let’s talk the early days. Were there any experiences that shaped your career from the beginning?
“I’m always honest and don’t mind admitting I wasn’t the most academically inclined at school. Needless to say, going to University wasn’t really an option for me. But I was really keen to follow in my father’s footsteps and whilst not great at exams I realised I would be good at working hard to prove what I could achieve.
“In the summer of ’89 I joined a well-known bank on their management development programme and followed opportunities around the country as they came – relocating to different branches every 12 months or so. Continuously finding myself in new situations and new locations develops character very quickly, and it was in these years that I learnt a great deal about networking and building strong client relationships.
“I’ve worked across many types of finance roles covering everything from underwriting to collections, and this gave me a good understanding of business, professionalism and what quality service looks like at every step in a customer’s journey. I think this has also given me a real eye for spotting a strong work ethic and recognising talent when I see it.”
Were there any stand-out moments?
“During my time, I was fortunate to be selected for a European Leadership programme – the company I worked for at the time belonged to a bigger European banking group.
“On that programme I had an experience I’d say was pretty transformational. I spent a week in Loch Lomond, a remote part of Scotland, with a group of ten candidates from various banks within the National Australia Banking Group. We took part in some pretty testing training workshops around relationship building, presentation skills and credit/risk.
“Most of these sessions were filmed and played back to us each day; it was eye opening to watch how we all interacted and communicated with each other, and this really helped me build on my strengths and identify areas of weakness.
“Finally on the last day we had to write a one page summary about each person on the programme (really detailed, brutally honest stuff!) I was given one to read from each of the other nine people on the plane journey home. Everything I learned about relationships and making a good first impression has definitely stuck with me and it was a great experience.”
How did your journey begin at Together?
“When I first joined Together back in 2006, I was looking for a position (and an organisation) that was more entrepreneurial, somewhere I could really add value with the client-facing skills and commercial experience I’d developed.
“I was brought in to set up the Bridging Finance arm of our business, which included expanding our partnerships with a network of professional introducers such as accountants and lawyers. I also got involved in the branding side of things too – writing our strapline, setting our tone of voice and so on. I’m proud to say I designed the Bridging Finance logo we used at the time, and I’ve still got the very first sketches I made on a spare bit of paper!
“Joining our business was, and remains, an amazing opportunity. Our business looked very different back in 2006 as you can probably imagine, but it was the incredible people who really attracted me to the role and it’s the amazing colleagues that still make me love the role and the business today.
“Our people continue to be the most valued thing about Together. As we grow the team, I’m looking at those same individuals who demonstrate integrity, accountability and willingness in everything they do as exemplars when recruiting more of the best talent.”
Can you tell us more about Together Corporate?
“Several years ago we established the Together Corporate team, providing us the opportunity to better support our network of property entrepreneurs and professional introducers in the high-net-worth space.
“We’ve worked alongside many of these customers since the early 2000s, and that’s because we prioritise strong, life-long relationships with our clients.
“Even if we aren’t going to transact on day or even year one, we’re invested in people and businesses who share our passion for property and our ethos for making things happen; we’ll take the time to understand our clients and build connections for the future, so we can be here for them and ready to lend with confidence when they’ve identified a great opportunity.
“Our customers regularly tell us they value our ability to give them certainty. Our experienced team of decision-makers are always accessible, willing and ready to have an open and frank conversation; we’ll make a decision very early doors and won’t go back on our word, which means our clients can trust us to deliver the funding they need in the timescales we’ve agreed.”
What do you look for when hiring the very best team?
“One of our biggest principles at Together Corporate is transparency. If you want to succeed in business, transparency isn’t optional and it goes hand-in-hand with professionalism. Therefore, it’s essential we have this quality within the entire team – everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We also look for people who are very professional and respectful, and simply want to do things in the right way. We always want our clients to feel valued, because they are, and that means providing them with dedicated contacts who’ll take a long-term view to building relationships and will go the extra mile to make things happen.
“The team we’ve hired embody these values and more, and come from a strong financial services background bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise.”
You enjoy a lot of challenging hobbies. What do you think this says about your character?
“It says you can accomplish anything you set your mind to!
“I must admit I do enjoy a challenge. Over the years I’ve done bungee jumping, completed two solo jumps from a plane, tunnelling (not great for claustrophobia!), Tough Mudder (never again!) and cycled 125 miles from the West Coast to the East Coast of England in a single day – dipping my tyre in the sea at either end, which is part of the tradition!
“Many of these activities involve strong communication, having a great deal of trust, and all of those things we hang our hat on at Together Corporate when it comes to working with our clients.
“I do think you can learn a lot about a person from their hobbies and what they get up to in their spare time. I’m a big family man (my amazing wife, our two dogs and two incredible boys!) and I look for those values when I’m hiring; it’s important for me to know somebody’s personal ethos before I can understand how they’ll connect with people in a professional setting. It’s all about balance.”
How do you build (and maintain) strong relationships with clients?
“It’s a real combination of all of those things I’ve mentioned so far: being proactive, accountable, dependable and trustworthy all help us to develop a strong reputation in the market. As such, a lot of our clients come to us through referrals and recommendations from our long-standing customers.
“I also actively recommend those we’re in partnership with and make introductions – giving something back is the best way to develop relationships. This is why I’m a big supporter of events that bring business professionals together, like our recent get together at Peter Street Kitchen in Manchester.
“These corporate networking events are key for us. We get the chance to thank our customers for their continued support, discuss how we can support their future acquisition and growth plans, and give them the opportunity to get to know one another – chances are, being in similar industries, our clients may be able to transact with and support each other.”
What are you looking forward to helping customers with this year?
“Over the last 18 months the market has provided an array of opportunities for investors and developers, and we’re seeing huge demand and increased confidence from our clients.
“This year, we’ll continue to support our customers who’re expanding their portfolios and answering the call for more rental properties, those investing in distribution warehouses, and those transforming office spaces to support the changing needs of society.
“Another one of our key strengths is that we’ll consider a wide variety of property types, including listed and mixed-use structures, and those being constructed using different building materials – these often make some of the most interesting and exciting projects we get involved in!
“As such, we’re looking forward to helping more clients build sustainably by funding some major eco-developments, and supporting those who are bringing older buildings back to life and giving them new purpose.
“Now is an exciting time for our business. It’s an exciting time for our customers. And in working together, particularly with our new team on board, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next twelve months and beyond.”
Thanks Chris! Read more about the Together corporate team and how we’re supporting our customers here.
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