LHV blog
Banking/Business culture

An experienced home loan manager helps with advice and humour

23. feburary 2024Priit Rum

Kirke Kartau, Home Loan Manager at LHV, has seen different clients and market developments. A passion for interacting with people and accompanying them on their home searches keeps her focused on a daily basis.

Kirke Kartau is from Tartu and has been working at LHV Pank since 2021, during which time she has already helped many clients across Estonia to buy their dream home. When it comes to banking services, Kirke is certainly an expert, having worked for Hansapank, Nordea, and Luminor over the years, providing clients with services ranging from loans to investment services. But Kirke says that it is as a home loan manager that you can really help and cheer people up at a crucial moment.

Colleagues praise Kirke’s positive attitude in particular. There is a solution for every situation, accompanied by in-depth consultations and a few jokes. Kirke says that while a few years ago she took a year off to rest, after just a few months she felt something was missing. It was the people who were missing. ‘It is vanity, I think, as I really like to talk to people. On an average day, I am in contact with twelve or fifteen home buyers, several times a day with some of them. When I got home, I realised something was missing. It was all about delighting clients,’ Kirke says, with a twinkle in her eye.

Kirke has lived in Tartu her whole life. This is also where she went to university. But she did not study economics or finance, which you would expect from a banker. As a fun fact, she studied Finnish at university. She has learned six languages. Unfortunately, home loans are not requested in Latin or Livonian, which means that some languages have been forgotten over time.

Kirke got into banking when she started working at Hansapank in 2005, as banking at that time was like establishing your own start-up today: it seemed like every self-respecting girl’s dream was to work at a bank. ‘I had to get up to speed with everything myself. I became a home loan manager by googling what a mortgage was.’ At that point, the property boom was in full swing, everything was sold off and home lending took place under a different set of rules. ‘Looking back, some of the things that were written into the contracts were pretty ugly in terms of the outcome, but today the rules are in place in a much more sustainable way,’ Kirke says. The work was also carried out differently, even though property advertisements were already online, applications had to be filled in manually and account statements were faxed to the archives. Today, everything is quick and easy for the client. The application can be filled in electronically and home buyers receive a reply from LHV in just one day. But the questions asked from the manager are still similar.

‘The most important issue for an Estonian is interest. It slightly oversteps the bounds of reasonableness, but sometimes we negotiate a thousandth of a per cent with a client. The important thing is that the client is happy. Today, most clients have their own 20% co-financing, whereas in the past they did not and collateral was used. In the case of a manager, clients particularly value speed and availability; this is what differentiates us from other banks, as we try to answer the phone whenever possible,’ Kirke says. But with some clients, the options are discussed in great detail. Kirke recalls a case when a female client wanted to buy a larger apartment, but in the course of the conversation, the manager realised that she was entirely a ‘house person’. ‘Later, she thanked me and said that she was now sitting on the terrace of her house, in her bathrobe, and drinking coffee, just as I had visualised for her,’ Kirke recalls. ‘These are the sweet stories.’

Kirke also lives with her family in her own house on the outskirts of Tartu. She has even taken out a home loan twice, so she has also been a client. ‘In this situation, you are very different from being a manager, it is very difficult to advise yourself,’ Kirke laughs. She likes to tinker around in her own household and, for example, she built the stove herself, since the potter did not have time to come. What she likes about Tartu is the size of the city and the fact that there is less noise. The LHV office in Tartu employs a cohesive team of home loan managers who still serve clients all over Estonia. While sitting on Ülikooli Street, you sometimes have to imagine that you are in Kalamaja, Nõmme or Pärnu instead.

When Kirke is not at work, she is travelling or thinking about travelling. ‘I love Europe in summer,’ she says. If given the choice of where to buy a second home in a country, Kirke would dream of a small vineyard in Italy, or on an island in Greece. Finally, Kirke says of herself with a laugh that pineapple goes on pizza and toilet paper must be hung in the over position – important things in everyday life.