Shirley Gooden (pictured), specialist protection adviser, has been in the sector for over two decades providing advice on mortgages and protection. She is currently in the process of setting up her own firm.
Have you always wanted to work in the finance sector? (if not, what job did you picture yourself doing?)
Absolutely not. I wanted to be a million things from an air hostess, actor, author to a lorry driver.
How did you get into the industry?
Purely by chance. I was headhunted while in another role and offered the opportunity to qualify in something new. I liked the sound of it and thought why not.
What is your favourite thing about working in the sector?
It can be hugely rewarding. I’ve seen the impact the advice I give can have on a person or entire family which can be very humbling. I also like the direction the sector is heading, with more individual approaches and people being able to offer a service in their own unique and individual way. The finance sector is without doubt evolving and looks very different to how it was when I first started out.
Did you ever feel there were barriers due to your race?
Were there opportunities I missed out on because of my race that I wasn’t aware of? Maybe, maybe not, I may never know. In terms of culture, there may have been times when the odd joke fell flat or a point I made was misunderstood. Not sure it would be perceived as a barrier, just may have created a few awkward moments.
Do you feel like diversity and inclusion has improved over your time in the sector?
For sure. I love seeing a new generation of minorities making a beeline for the finance sector. When I started out in 2003, I would rarely find many minorities in the room at conferences or events. Now it’s lovely seeing a greater mix of cultures represented.
Who in the sector inspires you most?
Adam Kaplan from Pendragon Protect has shown me you can have your own unique style and not have to conform to be successful in the finance sector. His passion for insurance is also really refreshing.
Karla Edwards of The Protection Parent has also been a huge inspiration to me in encouraging me to be fearless and set up my own insurance company. As with Adam, her passion for putting the customer first and giving quality advice is the perfect example of a great adviser.
They have, hands down, been my biggest inspirations.
Outside of the mortgage/finance market, who is your biggest inspiration?
Tina Turner. She has said so many powerful things, however, her resilience to having been through so much but being a relentless optimist is beautiful.
What advice would you give to anyone from a minority group who is thinking of joining the industry?
If you are curious, you must try it. If nothing else, you will walk away with valuable knowledge on financial security which you can carry with you for life. However, if you decide to progress and make this your profession, you are joining at an exciting time where you get to be part of a movement that will help to strengthen and build wealth in minority communities.
What has been your biggest career achievement?
Starting out as a mortgage administrator after a long break from financial services, and progressing to becoming one of the top business writers in the firm. I also went on to be part of a team that created a new insurance department which was incredibly challenging but hugely rewarding.
What skills and/or qualities do you bring to your role?
Relatable, empathetic, conscientious, hardworking, excellent industry knowledge with an unwavering willingness to learn more. Always prepared to go above and beyond for my clients.
What life lesson or advice helped shape who you are today?
Consistency not motivation is the key to success. Also, not all days are good days which his ok. If you make a mistake forgive yourself and use it as a powerful tool to learn and grow. And finally, find out who you are and do it on purpose.
Where do you see yourself in five years career-wise?
I am currently in the process of setting up my insurance firm so in five years I see myself established and enjoying my time as a successful business owner within the finance sector.