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One to One: Steph Charman, director of mortgages, Positive Lending

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Moving on after 15 years at one firm, the importance of first-hand adviser feedback, the positive impact of mortgage packagers – and a talent for spider spotting

You recently took on the role of director of mortgages at Positive Lending after 15 years at Mortgage Intelligence. What motivated you to make the move?

I had a fantastic 15 years at Mortgage Intelligence. Sally Laker was my mentor and I will always be grateful for the opportunities and experience I gained.

Having known Paul [McGonigle] and Chris [Fairfax] at Positive for the past eight years, I’ve seen their business grow and develop. Knowing there was an opportunity to be part of the next stage of Positive’s growth plans was a challenge I couldn’t ignore.

In your new role, what’s your relationship with mortgage brokers and how does it play out?

You can’t shape your proposition without speaking to the audience for which it’s meant.

Meeting with advisers and gaining their thoughts on current products and criteria is essential. It is not until you hear an adviser’s feedback first-hand that you really understand their needs.

What is the best aspect of your job?

Currently, I am loving the excitement of being at the beginning of a journey; having my mind bursting with ideas and working with an entrepreneurial, dynamic team that is focused on success.

As a woman working in finance, do you feel there is equality in the sector? Has the number of females in senior roles improved?

I have come from a business where there were fewer men than women.

Within the intermediary space, I feel that women have a strong presence in senior roles.

However, within the wider financial market there should be more women within senior management teams, but only if they are the right people for the role.

What’s the one thing you’d like to achieve at Positive over the next year or so?

Changing an adviser’s perception of how a mortgage packager positively impacts their business. I believe all distribution models have a place in this diverse market.

The term ‘specialist’ is now so wide it’s not just about an applicant with adverse credit. The growing self-employed market, with complex incomes or unusual properties, now makes up more of our enquiries than adverse criteria.

When you include the ever-changing buy-to-let landscape – especially the fast-approaching portfolio changes and the need for expert guidance – support in this complex area will just continue to grow.

If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?
I took A-levels in history, human biology and chemistry because, initially, I wanted to be a doctor.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?
I have many heroes but one that springs to mind is Diana, Princess of Wales. For me, she was the epitome of gracefulness, even when facing adversity.

Do you have any secret talents?
As a massive arachnophobe, I can spot a spider from a mile away!

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with my family and plan our next Disney trip. It’s amazing how much there is to plan, and who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet?

What is the best advice you have received?
You will regret only the opportunities you did not take.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?
To install some ‘outside the box’ thinking when it comes to homeownership. With affordability challenges, lack of housing stock and rising rents, the odds are stacked against first-time buyers.

Help to Buy has had a fantastic impact but the need for social housing continues to grow. I don’t have all the answers but I feel a different approach can only be worth a try.

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