We provide Honest, Transparent and Bespoke Advice.

Our Experts

At Commercial Expert Ltd we work with you, understanding your plans and objectives, preparing and presenting your requirements in order to source the right commercial finance, or business funding solution for you.

We understand the lenders – their funding criteria and their lending preferences.
This allows us to choose specific commercial lenders suited to your type of business.

Meet the Team

Michael Coates

Managing Director

Mike’s career in business was sparked by his entrepreneurial spirit in childhood when, at the age of 12, he used his first weekly wage of £6.30 from delivering newspapers to buy ingredients to bake cakes and biscuits, which he sold from his front garden.

Mike’s business acumen (and love for fine foods) continued to develop working for the family delicatessen business, which he managed for 4 years. He later went on to set up Chestnut Finance Ltd mortgage brokers in 2004, and a few years later saw a move to commercial lending and the current business was born.

Mike is very keen to ensure the high levels of ethics and values with which he was brought up are reflected in his company’s business practices. He is proud to say that every client receives the same high level of care and service regardless of deal size or case complexity.

As might be expected, Mike has retained his interest in fine food and wine and now looks on cooking and baking as a way to relax on an evening.

Daniel Brown

Business Manager

Dan became AAT qualified in 2005, completed CeMAP the following year and became CECM qualified in 2009. He has completed hundreds of buy to let and commercial mortgages over the years, giving him vast experience in matching client needs with the financial services available.

He excels in using his technical skills and financial expertise, assessing a wide range of propositions, presenting to lenders and seeing through to drawdown.

Dan has an extremely strong client service ethic and works tirelessly on the client’s behalf, exploring every possible option to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.

A true team player, both in and out of the office, Dan is an accomplished goalkeeper, playing in a Sunday league football team.

David Hodgson

Business Manager

David joined Lloyds Bank straight from school in 1977, working his way through various roles and achieving his ambition to be appointed as Branch Manager in Hartlepool in 1987. The same year saw David qualify as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (ACIB).

With 32 years of front line banking experience, it is not surprising that David is very approachable and forges excellent relationships with his clients.

David extends the services we offer, making site visits and attending client meetings to allow him to get under the skin of the client’s business and establish the best way to structure deals.

Despite his advancing age, David still manages to don the whites and turn out regularly as a wicket keeper (he doesn’t have to move too much!) for his local cricket team.

Rod Dales

Business Manager

Rod joins us with extensive experience in Commercial Banking – having been with the RBS Group since 1981.

Joining on the graduate training scheme, he worked through various branch roles, becoming Assistant Manager in 1988. He then moved into Commercial Banking as a Relationship Manager in the mid 1990’s – and over the past 20 years or so has looked after the interests of a vast range of business customers – from the smallest start up, to some very large local concerns.

Throughout that time he has built up a first rate knowledge of business and their financial requirements – together with an unswerving determination to provide the very highest standards of care and customer service – earning a glowing reputation both within the Bank, and also with the wider business community.

Rod is a very keen sportsman – running, gym, golf, and football – and on top of that has also managed to teach himself Greek!

Tracey Barnes

Tracey joined Barclays Bank straight from school and spent 18 years in a wide range of roles. Working up from ‘back office’ roles to customer service roles in North-East branches, Tracey then joined the training team and implemented the roll out and training for the first counter terminals in the area. She then moved into Premier banking, followed by small business and finally corporate banking, providing an excellent relationship service for the Bank’s customers; something Tracey is passionate about.

After having her two children, in 2003, Tracey took a career break and decided to embark on a new challenge as a teaching assistant. She became a Higher Level Teaching Assistant and went on to teach primary children of all ages in all subjects. Although it was a job she loved, after 12 years, Tracey felt it was time for a new direction.

Located in Darlington, Tracey enjoys countryside walks with her dog, usually with a local hostelry at the end! Keen to keep fit, Tracey enjoys the gym and dance lessons and, having two daughters, shopping is also a favourite pastime.

Mark Whitaker

Advisory Board Member

Mark, a lifelong Banker, joined Yorkshire Bank in 1981 and undertook a wide variety of front line roles including traditional Branch Manager positions in Yorkshire and Oxfordshire. His career culminated in heading up the Bank’s flagship corporate business centre in Leeds. Mark also undertook a range of strategic projects for the parent company, National Australia Bank.

More recently, he headed up Santander’s commercial business centre in West Yorkshire and worked for Begbies Traynor coordinating business development activity and providing Banking advice and support for the benefit of clients of key business introducers.

Mark currently provides advisory services to a number of businesses in Yorkshire and the North East.

He is a keen golfer, playing off a handicap of 18, and shares Mike’s love of good food and wine.

Colin Coates

Accounts & Estate Planning

Colin has spent 40 years of his working life at the sharp end of manufacturing industry. An experienced procurement and materials management professional, he has held senior positions with Samsung, Zanussi and Dana Group.

He opened Samsung’s first manufacturing site in the UK and was responsible for total sourcing of European products and imports from Korea.

Colin is a qualified counsellor and now advises clients on Estate Planning and provides a Will writing service on behalf of Commercial Expert Ltd.

Socially, Colin is a keen guitarist and vocalist in a rock band, he also enjoys quality time with his wife, including his five grandchildren.

He is a dedicated supporter of Commercial Expert Ltd.’s ethics and values.

Susan Driver

Office Manager

Susan joined Yorkshire Building Society in 1982, spending 5 years in branches offices within Surrey before relocating to Bradford in 1987, where she continued for another 5 years, mostly in Head Office branch.

Having had two children, Susan chose to work within the Investment Services Department of their Head Office for another 10 years, during which time she assisted in upgrading the computer system twice, once within the branch offices and the other in the Head Office.

Being quite adaptable, Susan has spent time working for Marks and Spencer and Next plc, thriving on utilising her customer services skills.

Currently located in Bishop Auckland, Susan enjoys spending quality time with her dog and children, preferably walking at locations like Hamsterley Forest or Seaton Carew.