Speaking on the Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum (DIFF) podcast, Brad Fordham, head of mortgages at Santander UK, said people did not consider mortgage broking as a career path because of this.
Fordham said: “I’m not sure people realise how many mortgage brokers there are in the UK, and the majority of them are very successful and doing a great job for customers.
“We know 80 per cent of the market is via intermediaries, but I’m not sure people out there really know it. So in a wider sense, there won’t be many people who come out of school, have done A levels, consider what they’ll do next and think ‘you know what, mortgage broking or financial services is that for me’.”
He added: “We could do a better job at selling that and trying to attract talent in.”
Path of progress
Speaking of his daughter Jemima, who he encouraged to get into the profession after she was unsure of what to do, Fordham said the sector did well at allowing such talent to progress from entry-level admin or paraplanner roles.
He also said this provided an opportunity for women and younger people to join the sector.
Dina Bhudia, CEO of P2M Asset Management, felt being a mother and not having a degree held her back when she first entered the mortgage sector.
She originally worked at Santander as a financial adviser when it was still branded as Abbey National, before leaving to become self-employed.
Bhudia said she moved as she felt there was no opportunity to progress within the branch.
Bradham, who was her regional manager at the time, admitted head office teams were typically made up of graduates and they did not necessarily look to retail branches for recruitment as staff did not always have the academic qualifications.
Bradham did not go to university either and said before he was given the opportunity to become a regional manager, he also got the impression that this limited him. He assumed his north London accent pigeonholed him and made people think he was not “bright enough” for senior roles.
Coming from an Indian background, Bhudia said it was not just the professional environment but also stigmas within her community that stifled her development.
When trying to network and build a client base, she said people from the same ethnic background often said they expected her to take on more traditional roles.
“One of the common things from the older ladies and even the businessmen were ‘shouldn’t you be at home with the children and making chapatis?’,” she added.
She eventually grew her business by getting to know people through community work, but found the insular nature limited further expansion.
Bhudia said: “The language barrier was an issue initially because a lot of my clients’ first language was not English. Me speaking Gujrati means you organically end up recruiting from your own community.
“As I’ve changed the culture within the office – we must speak English at all times because everyone on the other end generally can speak English – I’ve found that we’ve opened up to the wider society, which has helped me grow my business.”