COFFEE BREAK WITH... David Ward, Senior Director - Christie Finance

Coffee Break with… is a Christie & Co series showcasing the brilliance, expertise, and diversity of our network of over 200 employees.

When did you join Christie Finance?

1st November 2001 – it was then called Christie First.

Where were you when you accepted your role at Christie Finance?
On the train back from the interview in London.

What was your first role in Christie Finance?
I set up the Christie Finance office in Birmingham as part of the regional roll-out as it was previously London-based (York St). First was Glasgow, then Manchester and we were next. After Birmingham, they decided to install a broker in each of the (then) 16 offices nationwide, which then became two brokers in each office.

In a couple of sentences, can you tell us a bit about your job at Christie Finance?
I head up the medical team for Christie Finance and have recently moved to Corporate Debt Advisory – arranging finance for the purchase and refinance of pharmacy and dental groups. I also have a strong link with the Christie & Co medical team where we are able to work on many projects together.  

What’s your favourite thing about Christie Finance?
The ‘flatness’ of the organisation, where it’s recognised that everyone is important and that everyone has a valuable contribution to make. I used to work in a large bank where it’s hugely hierarchical and you’re expected to bow and scrape to the higher echelons, who are only interested in their own career. Here each person can make a huge contribution to the business.    

What's a favourite project that you’ve worked on at Christie Finance so far?
The Rev Robert Parker refinanced his care group in May 2007 before selling it in September of the same year for £43m to Barchester. His timing was superb as it preceded the financial crash by a matter of weeks. He then waited and reinvested in a small group of country hotels in his wife’s home county of Northumberland. He was dubbed as ‘The richest vicar in Britain’ by the press. An incredibly interesting man who, as you can expect, was an incredible raconteur.

What’s been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
Learning how to work smarter rather than harder and within that learning to recognise that it’s just as important to turn a finance request away as it is to take it on. It’s not in the client’s interest to be led up the garden path and give them false hope. A reasoned rebuttal at an early stage with suggestions as to how they can improve their chances is worth so much more to both sides in the long term. I have had so many clients return to me because they appreciate my sound and reasoned advice.

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?
Being promoted to Director at the end of 2007 in the middle of the financial crisis, then becoming the first Senior Director in the whole group some years later.

How has the industry changed since you started at Christie Finance?
The finance sector has changed hugely over the past two decades. We have gone from four to five standard high street lenders to a myriad of ‘challenger banks’ to fit most lending situations. About 20% of borrowers used brokers when I began my broking career. With the high street being more cautious, this has risen to over 70% in the last two decades.

Who in your industry do you feel most inspired by?
The person who had the biggest influence on me was a care home client – Paul Hearn of My Care Group in the East Midlands. Paul was a PE teacher and has grown his superb care group from nothing. He taught me how to think logically and not to just do things for the sake of it. The biggest word in my vocabulary is now ‘Why?’. 

Tell us a bit about your life outside work – what are your hobbies?
I recently retired from a 40-year ‘career’ playing rugby, during which I also was the head coach for the minis, juniors and girls’ teams. I also love watching cricket and hit the gym a few times a week – mainly for the rowing machine. Finally, I enjoy the challenge of cryptic crosswords.

What’s your hometown? Where do you live now?
I have moved back to my hometown, Malvern, and the beautiful Malvern Hills.

Where’s the best place you’ve been on holiday?
Portugal a couple of years ago with all of the family – I also sneaked in a round of golf at Quinta do Lago.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Poor spelling, grammar and slang.

If you could live and work in any city, where would you go?

What would be your desert island meal?
Being a pescatarian, sea bass.

What’s your favourite film?
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I’m a massive Clint Eastwood fan.

Tell us your favourite joke?
Apparently, one in five people in the world are Chinese. And there are five people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother, Colin. Or my younger brother, Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it's Colin. - Tim Vine

What is your favourite movie quote?
‘You’ve got to ask yourself one question. ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do you, punk?’ – (Often misquoted) Dirty Harry.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
To do a parachute jump with one of my four daughters – she keeps pestering me. And I am aiming to row a marathon in the gym for charity this year.

What is your biggest fear?
I’m an arachnophobe.

What news source do you read every day?
BBC online.

What’s your social media platform of choice?
Facebook – my daughters laugh at me!

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