The estate agency market challenge, loving the job and thanking dad for ending up in the role
What do you typically do at Just Mortgages?
I have recently been promoted from divisional sales director to financial services director, so I now work across the UK managing the ‘new homes division’ sales force, looking after two sales managers and 14 advisers. I spend a lot of time meeting with, observing and coaching my team, providing feedback and support.
What have been yours – or the company’s – biggest challenges so far this year?
The estate agency market is quite challenging at the moment due to a lack of property and clear uncertainty in the political environment. A lot of Just Mortgages’ leads come from the estate agency part of the businesses, so this is having a knock-on effect on the mortgage advice side.
Demand is there, but the number of properties on the market remains low, so the challenge for us now is to do the right job and the best job for every customer so we are able to win our fair share of the business that is there. Our new-build division is also buoyant and I see this trend continuing.
Please describe your route into the mortgage world
I played squash to a high level when I was younger after winning a sports scholarship. I thought I might be able to make squash my career, but unfortunately, it did not work out.
I then studied video production and planned to work in TV. I had a few jobs working on shows at Sky Sports and ITV4. It was good fun, but work was quite unreliable as it tended to be contract work.
One day, I was walking past an estate agency and there was an advert for a junior negotiator in the window. I went in and got the job there and then. I immediately loved the work and found I had a real passion for property. From there, I progressed to various different roles in the estate agency – from negotiator to senior negotiator and then on to branch manager.
I had the option of staying and becoming a partner, but the recession had just hit, property sales were drying up and I felt as though I needed to get out. But I did not want to leave the property industry so I decided I would retrain as a mortgage broker.
I trained with the agency I was with and then became self-employed. It was very tough because if you want the business, you have to find it. But I relished the challenge and soon built up a great client base.
If there was one thing you could change about the industry, what would it be?
It would be for it to be much more open-minded about who is ‘allowed in’. I think employers in the mortgage world are too quick to dismiss people who do not have a mortgage background. Most companies only employ people who already have experience, and are missing out on a huge amount of talent by taking that approach.
On a Sunday evening, what do you dread for the coming morning, and what do you look forward to?
I am in the car at 5.30am some mornings and I must admit, I am not a fan of getting up early, but who is? In terms of my job, there is nothing I dread, I genuinely love it.
As a child, what was your dream job?
When I was really young, I wanted to be an air force pilot or James Bond. Or maybe both.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Do what you enjoy and do not regret anything. I genuinely believe that you will be better at something – and succeed in it – if you enjoy it.
Do you have any secret talents?
Well, I guess it is not a secret now but I am still pretty handy with a squash racquet. It was a real focus of mine for many years. I made it to the British championships but was never quite good enough to make it my career.
Who is your all-time hero, and why?
The person I look up to the most is my dad. He came from a working-class background, went to work at 15 and has always shown me that hard work does get you places. He has been there for me and always sets a good example. He treats people well and that is something that has hugely influenced me. It is probably why I ended up where I am – in a role that is all about communication and creating and maintaining great relationships.
Year established: 1990 (then known as Mortgages Direct, rebranded as Just Mortgages in 2012)
Address: Colwyn House, Sheepen Place, Colchester, Essex C03 3LD
Tel: 0345 2185211
Just Mortgages’ 346 mortgage professionals and protection specialists, working in the employed and self-employed divisions, offer independent mortgage advice as well as a range of other financial solutions. Just Mortgages’ advisers have access to a wide range of exclusive mortgage deals so that they can find the most suitable mortgage based on each borrower’s individual needs and circumstances, from first-time buyers to buy-to-let and new-build.