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Learning to give up some freedom

One of the challenges of my new job is learning to be part of a network. I will let you know how I feel about giving up my directly authorised freedom as time goes on, says Sue Read

As I write this I’ve been in my new job for almost a week and have found it a steep learning curve, as it involves a remit that means I have a phenomenal amount of work to do.

Apart from the obvious things I’m having to get to grips with, such as finding the photocopier, wondering where the nearest sandwich bar is and whether it’s a wind-up that everyone’s dressing down for the BBC’s Comic Relief, I also face the wonderful challenge of leading a department that is still in its infancy.

This is incredibly exciting, if inwardly rather daunting. Although I went through the process of establishing a mortgage team from scratch with my previous employer, this was done in a relatively slow way, with systems and procedures evolving gradually.

Here, I am presented here with a company which, for all the right reasons, is keen to have these systems and procedures put into place almost instantaneously. The good news is that the firm is also acutely aware of the need to be absolutely compliant and to provide an unsurpassed service to customers. All this means that we have to get these processes right.

Service is by far the easiest way companies can differentiate themselves from one another. To hijack what Tony Blair once said about education, I say it’s all about service, service, service.

It’s no good having the most up-to-date computer systems, the fanciest offices or even the most highly qualified advisers if a company’s service is abysmal. Our primary mission is to give our clients the best service in the business, and over the coming months we will be working towards achieving this.

Of course, there are many varied elements that have to come together to complete the service jigsaw, and one of the most important of these is training. And I’m not only talking about the obvious basic mortgage qualifications, but also about the ethos of our mortgage department and the sort of animal we want it to be.

Being part of a network is something I am not used to. I have thus far been impressed with the pre-approval training I have been asked to undertake, and I am looking forward to seeing how our network is going to work with us to help us achieve our goals.

The freedom of being directly authorised is difficult to give up, and I just hope that I can quickly adapt to this new way of working. I have always been pretty uncomfortable about giving up this freedom, so it will be an interesting experience for me.

One quirk I have already encountered is that I can be described as offering ‘whole of market advice’, yet not have access to every lender. This is a dichotomy I have not had fully explained to me, although no doubt someone will do so soon. Once complete, I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you about networks versus direct authorisation over coming weeks. Hopefully, I will be forced to change some of my preconceptions.

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