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New blood: How one trainee became an award-winning broker

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  • 18/08/2011
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New blood: How one trainee became an award-winning broker
In a Mortgage Solutions One to One, Countrywide mortgage consultant Carrie Cotter, 23, talks to reporter Simret Samra about her magical journey from industry amateur to one of the top mortgage brokers aged under 30 in the country.

SS: Why did you enter the financial services industry and mortgages in particular?

CC: I’ve always been interested in financial services.

Straight out of school, I went to work for Santander as a customer services adviser. While I was working there I also worked part-time at McDonalds because I couldn’t afford to work off the one salary.

Once I had some money saved, I started looking out for vacancies at my local estate agents office and saw that Countrywide was looking to hire people that didn’t necessarily have financial experience.

I was interested in mortgage broking, because I bought my first property at the age of 18. I literally saved and saved from the age of 15 and got enough for a deposit.

SS: What training and qualifications did you receive at Countrywide?

CC: After passing the interview process, I got placed in an estate agency office where I shadowed the workers for four to six weeks.

During my time there, I got to go to viewings and learned the background of the estate agency business.

Once Countrywide were confident I knew enough, I was given a folder of things to learn about mortgage protection and got tested regularly on my product knowledge.

The training lasted six weeks with four of those weeks spent on obtaining my CeMAP.

SS: What was the first mortgage case you placed?

CC: I think it was either a first-time buyer case or a remortgage.

At first I found it quite daunting because I wasn’t use to it at all. While the training is good, you are essentially being put out into the real world.

I just made sure that I worked with the client to make sure their purchase went through as smoothly as my first one did.

SS: At this year’s British Mortgage Awards, you received the award for Young Achiever of the Year in the broker category. What was it about  your performance that sealed the award?

I think the main reason was because of my age and the fact that I started from not being in the industry at all to where I am today.

I’ve done my training and have become one of Countrywide’s top mortgage consultants under the age of 30 across the country.

SS: Why is there a shortage of young people in the mortgage industry?

CC: I genuinely think people are daunted.

I’m a go-getter, which is what drove me to financial services, but it’s really scary approaching someone for an interview when you have no experience to offer.

You have to sell yourself, but most people won’t necessarily know how to do that. From my company’s perspective and from my own experience, I would try and encourage young people to see the benefits of working in financial services.

Plus, I think there are more firms looking to take on younger people now compared to when I first started applying.

SS: What is it like being a mortgage consultant in a male-dominated industry?

CC: I just love the fact that I can try and do something better.

It is mainly male dominated, but at the end of the day, we don’t need to stand back, we just need to show that we can do the job and get on with it.

All you need is to be dedicated and do the work. The opportunities and rewards are there.

SS: What do aspiring homeowners need to know about the market?

CC: Borrowing is harder than ever, but banks are still lending.

As long as people have a salary and a decent deposit behind them, they will get a mortgage.

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