Company news

Life at StrideUp: Meet Nickie

June 9, 2021

This week’s ‘Life at StrideUp Series’ interview is with our Head of Underwriting Nickie Saunders.

Marie: What led you to become Head of Underwriting at StrideUp?

Nickie: The role I left to join StrideUp was working as an SME with Aldermore Bank. I was part of a project to enhance their product choice to their customers by introducing a new lending stream into their business for later life customers. The project was based in Manchester and I was on a six month contract. As my contract was coming to an end, Aldermore asked me to stay with them on a permanent basis, but in all honesty, this would mean living away from home and this was not something I wanted to do long term.

I am married with 2 sons and I wanted to come home every night. I was headhunted by someone who saw my profile on Linkedin and they put the opportunity of joining StrideUp to me as their Head of Underwriting. I really liked what I heard. I’ve worked in a previous startup and I loved the buzz, the challenges, the excitement of starting something completely from scratch. I just thought this was too good an opportunity to be missed, and after I met the co-founders, listened to the proposition of StrideUp, I was sold.

Marie: Tell me a bit about your work, how a typical working day looks like?

Nickie: At the moment I am working very closely with Ed, my Senior Underwriter. We are all working remotely at the moment, so I need to make sure that we communicate regularly with not only my immediate team, but the extended business areas too. This includes our Operations and Customer Success areas, our tech team, Advisors, Risk and of course, keeping the co-founders up to date on progress of the work being completed. .

There really isn’t a typical working day. It can range from reviewing the credit policy, to talking to a customer through a decision in principle, to calculating someone’s maximum affordability, even scoping new features to improve Underwriting within our tech platform. So there isn’t a typical day.

Marie: Diving a bit into StrideUp’s product, what makes it unique?

Nickie: Firstly I would say StrideUp’s passion to give the very best possible customer service possible. We want to hold the hand of our customers through their journey. Our product is similar to shared ownership, but our customers can choose a property from the open market. They’re not restricted to buy a property from a developer, they don’t have to go and choose a property that is on a developer’s books. They can go into any estate agent across England and choose a property that meets our criteria.

“Their choice is theirs, they can buy the property they want rather than choosing a property that is from a list of pick up options.”

Marie: In your opinion, what’s the most crucial difference between StrideUp and legacy home finance providers?

Nickie: The personal touch. Nobody sits behind a smokescreen, everybody is open and everybody is very friendly. We want to hold the customer’s hand rather than just tick boxes, we want to make that journey personable to them so that we make the thought of buying their own home, easier and less scary. Most of our customers are first-time buyers, which in itself can be a daunting experience, so if we can put our own personal touch to their experience, to me that counts for everything.

Marie: Who’s your tech/financial hero?

Nickie: I would say somebody like Richard Branson who, due to his dyslexia, was told he couldn’t do certain things and he just did it. And what a great success he made!

Marie: Would you be able to tell me what the main highlight of your journey is so far?

Nickie: I think it was launching. It’s a shame that we weren’t in London but due to the pandemic, and all working remotely, we couldn’t have had a big party. I was an early joiner and I think to see all of the hard work come to fruition to me has been amazing. Also, to see the team grow with some fantastic new team members has just made my journey even nicer.

"I don’t sit in an ivory tower. I want to roll my sleeves up and help all customers and team members alike. After all, to me it’s this passion and the drive that has kept me at StrideUp for over 3 years.”

Helping someone achieve their dream of buying their own home they thought was probably untouchable, is truly very special. Let’s make it a reality for them but do it in a way they understand and let’s be on their side - because home buying can be daunting and we want to support our customers through, what should be, a fun and exciting stage in their lives.

Related articles