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Rising Star: Shelley Harmer, Berkeley Alexander

  • 22/02/2019
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Mortgage Solutions and Specialist Lending Solutions are introducing a Rising Star section to highlight the best of the new talent across the industry.


It is open to anyone of any age with up to three years’ experience in the industry, who is making a mark within any part of the mortgage market, whether it be with a broker firm, lender or third-party provider.

This week features Shelley Harmer, telephone business development manager at Berkeley Alexander.



What does your role entail and how long have you been doing it?

I joined Berkeley Alexander in September as the telephone business development manager, working alongside the rest of the BDM team. I originally interviewed for a customer services role. At the interview they offered me the job, if I wanted it, but then also offered me the TBDM role – it’s the first time I’ve ever been offered two jobs before I’ve even started.


What attracted you to working in the mortgage finance sector?

My whole career to date has been in insurance, but it felt time for a change. The mortgage sector offered me a way of using all the insurance knowledge and experience I’d built up over the years but applying it in a very different way.

What I love about the mortgage intermediary market so far is that you can really tell they care and want to do right by their customers.


What were you doing in the five years before starting here?

Until now I’d always stayed in insurance. I’ve been lucky that I’ve worked for some really big names in the industry from insurers, to brokers, to loss adjusters – the whole lot. They gave me a great grounding and varied skills and knowledge – I’ve learned so much from every job I’ve had.


What personal talent or skill is most valuable in doing your job?

Communication. I talk…a lot. I’m bubbly, articulate and personable and I think that probably goes a long way. Listening goes hand in hand with that too. The mortgage sector, like insurance, seems to be very people focused – people do business with people they like at the end of the day.


What personal talent or skill would you most like to improve on?

I started to teach my own swing dance inspired fitness class last year ‘SwingTrain with Shelley’. Marketing the class was a brand new skill that I’ve had to master and one I’m still educating myself on, not to mention keeping my own fitness levels up to scratch. Nothing beats the feeling of sharing your passions with others though.


What is the most memorable case you’ve been involved in?

Well I’ve only been here four months… but I’d say it would have to be last week. I had a new case come in – it was from a new account and it was their first introduction to us. They were looking for landlord insurance, but the occupation was a professional actor and they wanted to let it as an HMO. Not really your run of the mill quote.


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

That’s simple – right here. I’m looking for a career, not a job, and I already feel like I’ve made a difference here and I thrive off that. Of course, promotion would be nice.


If present-day you could go in time back and tell yourself something five years ago, what would it be?

Well it wasn’t five years ago – it was in 2007, but it’s my biggest regret. Am I allowed to say two things? 1) Don’t buy that house just before the crash, and 2) Use a mortgage broker – not the bank. Cheesy but true.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve tackled so far in your career?

I was a loss adjuster at Cunningham Lindsey and got headhunted to join a big competitor – GAB Robins, along with my boss at the time. He threw me in at the deep end. There were some serious challenges to address and I set up and ran a whole new division from scratch.


If you could have one super power, what would it be?

To teleport. I don’t drive so I have to rely on public transport which, particularly this time of year, isn’t much fun. If I could click my fingers and be somewhere that would be amazing.


And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

‘Why are you so small?’ (I’m 4’ 6”). It’s strange because isn’t it obvious? Short parents generally = short children – it’s just biology. It has also become the most boring question over the years.


If you know someone who you believe should be featured in our Rising Star section contact features and contributing editor Owain Thomas.


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