19 May 2020
On Friday (15th May), B&C held its first-ever virtual judging day, when industry experts met on Zoom to decide the winners of the 12th annual awards.
Online voting closed on 17th April and the shortlist was published on 22nd April.
The two judging panels, which were announced in early February, spent many hours selecting the winners in 21 of the 25 award categories ahead of the event — in association with United Trust Bank — which is set to be held on Thursday 10th September at the Hurlingham Club, Fulham.
After looking over the supporting documentation and video testimonials from the shortlisted companies and individuals in the bridging, commercial, development, and specialist banking markets, the judges voted for who should be named the winners and highly commended.
The lender panel, chaired by Roger Morris, group distribution director at OneSavings Bank, logged in at 10am to judge the broker awards.
Once the lenders finalised their decisions — with the session going over by an hour — the broker panel, chaired by Liz Syms, CEO at Connect for Intermediaries, met in the afternoon to deliberate the shortlisted candidates in the lender categories.
The period for consideration for these awards was between April 2019 and April 2020.
Commenting on the virtual judging process, Roger said it was “the best judging session” he had witnessed in all his years with B&C.
Roger Morris chaired the lender panel
He stated that the judges should feel proud of themselves in the way that they listened respectfully to everyone’s decisions and allowed “the collective of common sense, submission, testimony, and [facts]” to allow them to measure and conclude their judgement.
The Lender panel joined Zoom to judge the broker award categories
“Given the judging was based over a whole year, it was good to get away from just talking about Covid-19 and the new norm,” added Marcus Dussard, sales director of the specialist mortgages division at Hampshire Trust Bank.
“I think we did the nominees justice in the way we went about [arriving at] the eventual winners and highly recommended in different circumstances.”
Rob Barnard, director of intermediaries at Masthaven, highlighted that it was great to see that “the unprecedented situation we’re in doesn’t stop the rightful reward of outstanding achievements in our great industry”.
“Thanks to the B&C team once again — as usual, a well-run and transparent judging process,” commented Gavin Diamond, commercial director of bridging at United Trust Bank.
“[There was] good debate among the judges (with refreshing new faces), providing all contenders with a fair hearing — a thoroughly enjoyable morning.”
Some of the categories were very tight and involved lots of deliberation
“What a great industry we work in,” added first-time judge Dawn Trustam, joint managing director at The Bridging Group.
“To be included in the panel of lenders for the B&C awards was great fun … and what a great mix of sector experience … with the very esteemed Roger at the helm to guide us through and make those tough decisions where we were split.
“Thank you also to both Caron [Schreuder] and Beth [Fisher] who worked to make sure we could still provide the judging while keeping everyone safe.
“There were some very difficult decisions that had to be made and every judge’s own review of the good testimonials and personal advice helped immensely.”
Tracey North, head of business development at Hope Capital, said she thought everyone gave useful comments in each category, which were helpful to others who may not have had personal experience of the nominee.
“It was great to see the camaraderie among the team, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
Francesca Woodhouse, business development manager at Octane Capital — also participating for the first time — commended the panellists for their varying experience throughout the industry.
“I was also impressed by the way each individual presented their rationale for the votes and the professional and concise manner in which this was delivered,” she noted.
“I really got a lot out of the discussions and I was reminded that we have some very strong, professional people in our industry,” added Emma Cox, sales director of commercial mortgages at Shawbrook Bank.
It was Sundeep Patel’s, head of intermediary relations (London) and field underwriting, first experience judging remotely via Zoom.
“I thought it was very well structured, the chair was balanced and in control, and the panel was of high quality for the relevant awards.
“The video testimonials were a great idea, and the firms that used them did a solid job.”
The broker panel joined the virtual judging day at 2pm — some brought beers to get them through the Friday afternoon
Liz Syms, chair of the broker panel
Broker panel judge Kris Corns, operations director at Crystal Specialist Finance, said that the afternoon judging session was an “open and honest environment”.
“Having been a judge for the last few years, this session lacked none of the passion, energy and back and forth normally seen, and the forum allowed everyone to be heard and every opinion put forward.
“I thought the use of video testimonials added a really good, new dynamic, and added to what was already a great process.
“The video conference was just like being in the room in London, although with added bird sounds and pets [Ed: *coughs* Jordan McBriar of Adapt Finance], and I think held up the integrity and the dynamics of the awards really well.
“Hopefully, we can all meet in person in a few months’ time and celebrate the winners together.”
Some of the voting was done by show of hands
It was Kim McGinley’s, director at VIBE Finance, debut as a judge on the broker panel, which she said was a “great experience” and that the high calibre of finalists made for “interesting discussions”.
“I understand the judging day did not follow the standard [face-to-face] process … however the format worked well and it was really great to see everyone and have such positive discussions in what has been a tough time for most.”
Alice Williams, head of property finance at Pilot Fish — another first timer — said that while the judging day wasn’t in the typical format, the amended online version was “brilliant”.
“It was great to discuss experiences with other brokers on the panel, and the final decisions proved incredibly difficult as a result of the calibre of entrants — I can’t wait until the awards!”
“I would say it worked well online and each judge had plenty of time to have their say,” added Dale Jannels, managing director at Impact Specialist Finance.
“[It] also [had] a good and wide variety of contributors from different areas of the bridging, commercial and development markets.”
The names of the winners will be kept a closely guarded secret until the sold-out event on 10th September.
In April, the B&C Awards 2020 confirmed it was moving the event date from 4th June to 10th September, after careful consideration and monitoring of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
All being well, and subject to a much more positive post-summer outlook, the African-safari themed awards will go ahead as planned in September.
You can remind yourself of all information in our ‘How does it all work?’ article.
To view last year’s winners, go to B&C Awards 2019: winners announced.