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One to One: Kate Davies, executive director, Imla

Imla’s executive director on the industry’s narrowing gender gap, the need for joined-up regulation and why it’s time for the tax system to be simplified

What is your main objective in your role as executive director at Imla?

To continue the great work that has been done over the past 30 years and to keep Imla in good shape for the next 30 – though I shall have moved on by 2048!.

What has been your biggest challenge in the role so far?

I joined just as the Council of Mortgage Lenders and British Bankers’ Association were merging – so didn’t inherit the existing support structure that had previously been provided by the CML.

Getting all the various elements working has been quite challenging, but I think we’re there now.

As a woman in the finance industry, where do you feel we currently stand on achieving gender equality?

When I joined the BSA/CML in 1991 I was frequently the only woman in the room during meetings – and in a relatively junior position. That has changed hugely and I have genuinely never felt I’ve been at a disadvantage in this industry because I am a woman.

There are enough well-qualified and experienced women out there but we need to make sure that they are not overlooked for the wrong reasons

There are numerous very impressive women in the industry right now – and they are great role models for those who will follow them.

I don’t like the concept of introducing quotas of female managers and directors. I think there are enough well-qualified and experienced women out there to fill the roles – but we need to make sure that they are not overlooked for the wrong reasons.

If there was one thing you would change about the industry, what would it be?

I would join up the regulatory overlay between the Treasury, regulators, the ministry of housing, communities and local government, planning and so on.

It’s hard to see how some policy issues, such as the chronic housing shortage and the lack of long-term planning on how we are going to fund health and social care, are ever going to be resolved until there is genuine long-term political thinking that can then influence delivery of services in our sector.

As a child, what was your dream job?

As a very little girl, I wanted to be my mother’s maid, which shows I was always tidy-minded. But evidently I became a bit more ambitious!

Do you have any secret talents?

Alas, no; I used to play the piano to quite a decent standard but am horribly out of practice now…

What is the best advice you have received?

That this life is not a rehearsal. Also, don’t forget to breathe at the top of a ski slope.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

That one’s impossible to answer! I’ll go for Mozart – for the most sublime music ever written. (Discuss.)

What is the toughest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Decisions aren’t the hard bit; guts and instinct usually make the decision pretty clear. Following through may be more difficult if you have to give other people messages that are hard to hear.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would you do?

I would simplify the tax system. If it’s too complex, people will misunderstand it, get things wrong, be penalised and feel aggrieved; or they will abuse and ‘game’ it for their own advantage. It needs to be seen as being inherently fair.

COMPANY PROFILE

Year established: 1988

Headcount: 39 full and 13 associate members

Address: registered at 5th Floor, 1 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HJ

Tel: 0800 049 9902

The Association of Mortgage Lenders (AML) was founded in 1988 to represent the views of the newly emerged ‘centralised’ lenders in a rapidly changing market. These lenders had no branches and used a wholesale funding model and intermediary-based mortgage sales channel. The AML changed its name in 1995 to Imla (Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association) to reflect members’ expertise in and focus on the generation of mortgage business via professional financial intermediaries.

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