Niamh Byrne, senior mortgage adviser at Financial Advice Centre, has worked at the firm for a year and a half. She has previous experience at Sterling Rock and SN Financial Services working as a mortgage and protection adviser.
Have you always wanted to work in the finance sector? (if not, what job did you picture yourself doing?)
By nature, I am a very caring person and spent most of my early adulthood wanting to be a midwife. After having a gap year to really consider my career choices, I fell into a job recruiting independent financial advisers (IFA).
I quickly learnt I was on the wrong side of the recruitment game and began my career in financial services in administration at a small family run IFA.
I subsequently took all the exams to become a mortgage adviser and honestly, I haven’t looked back since.
It has worked to my advantage having a caring and considerate nature. I think often in this industry mortgages can be very transactional. But I don’t work that way and nor does our business, we genuinely care about doing the right thing for our clients and keeping individuals as long–term clients and advocates.
Our business supports charitable involvement too and this works for me as naturally, I spend my spare time in charity and care work.
How did you get into the industry?
Recruiting IFAs, I ended up recruiting myself into a role as an administrator for an IFA who as part of their business also did mortgages. Our mortgage business joined my current firm, Financial Advice Centre in 2019.
Have you ever found it quite hard to fit in as a woman?
Absolutely, especially entering the financial services arena at aged 19. Being a young woman starting out in the industry was particularly difficult and I found that I was often overlooked and underestimated by industry old boys.
However, I’ve never doubted my ability and used my somewhat unique position in the industry to tap into a market niche; likeminded entrepreneurs. This is a lot of fun and brings lots of unique opportunities.
Have you noticed a change in the number of women in the field since you’ve worked in it?
Yes, absolutely, there are more women. But still the majority of women are in the administrative and support roles.
Would you encourage other women to join the finance sector? What would you say to them about it?
Yes. I find it a deeply rewarding job on many levels. Helping people, problem solving, talking to different people from different walks of life.
I like to think that being a woman in financial services I am helping to change the face of the industry and would encourage others to do so in order to make our field more accessible and relatable to a wider consumer group.
What skills or qualities do you believe you bring to the role?
I am trustworthy, honest, knowledgeable, caring and transparent.
How does your role fit or benefit your lifestyle?
Having a Wi-Fi connection, my laptop and my phone are all I need to do my job.
I like being able to change my work environment. From the office, to a coffee shop, to home, and even to a different country. Just before the first lockdown my partner and I had moved out to Portugal for a work project he was involved in.
It was a quiet time, but our business used the time to develop formal partnerships with more businesses like estate agents which set us up for a very business period when I returned to the UK a few months ago.
What are your hobbies?
Reading crime novels, dancing, travelling and cooking. I reached quite a high level of Irish dancing when I was younger and so I love music and new challenges.
My most recent endeavour while we’ve been stuck at home is to learn to play the piano.
What improvements regarding gender equality would you like to see in the finance sector?
To stop assuming that women are administrators.
Which women in the finance sector inspire you most?
To be honest, I look beyond my own industry for inspiration. My favourite poet is a woman I take inspiration from, both in my personal and work life, poet Rupi Kaur.
She self-published, wrote and illustrated her first poetry book when she was just 21. Her poetry is about the empowerment of women and inspires to love your own body and mind.
Also, strong, independent women inspire me. Most of all my mum.
She started with her then employer 20 years ago on a part time basis as an administrator while looking after three children. Through sheer grit, determination and a passion to be the best, I am so proud to say she is now the owner of said company, turning over a multimillion-pound profit.
What is a life lesson or piece of advice that helped to shape who you are today?
Treat others how you would like to be treated.
How do you apply that to your working life?
By giving honest, transparent advice. And by striving to surpass client expectations.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to be heading up my own mortgage department. I think women in senior positions help to change the face of the financial services industry.
Our firm is very supportive and encourages new ideas and ways of looking at things. This helps inspire me to want to motivate, work with, and support my own team and to modernise and diversify the sector.