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DIFF podcast: Mortgage professionals must leave a more diverse legacy – Jupp

  • 08/11/2021
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DIFF podcast: Mortgage professionals must leave a more diverse legacy – Jupp
Professionals in the mortgage industry have a duty to leave a legacy of a more inclusive sector, Rob Jupp, chief executive of Brightstar, said.


Speaking on the Diversity and Inclusion Finance Forum (DIFF) podcast Jupp said it was important for business leaders to create company cultures which encouraged inclusion. 

He said: “In the wider industry and sector, we’re at an age now where legacy is everything and what we do in the short years some of us have got left in the industry will leave a legacy for generations to come.” 

Jupp said the specialist sector was behind the mainstream mortgage industry when it came to diversity and inclusion but added that “change was afoot”. 

He added: “The winds of change are very much blowing in our industry in ensuring there is going to be, and there are, equal opportunities and diversity and inclusion for everyone. But it will take a while to turn round.  

“I’m not saying it will take a generation but 20 years ago our specialist market would have consisted entirely of white middle aged men. Middle class, middle aged men. I’ve seen with tremendous pace – particularly with young women coming through and coming into the industry – that we have done a tremendously positive job.” 

Damian Thompson, group managing director retail finance at Aldermore Bank, said this was also important as people from diverse backgrounds tended to need specialist finance the most. 

Thompson praised Aldermore for being the “most diverse organisation from an ethnicity perspective” that he had worked for. However, he noted that company structures tended to be more inclusive at lower level positions. 

“What we sometimes do is look at the top [management] tables and say, ‘this doesn’t look very diverse, therefore these companies lack diversity,” he said. Thompson said because of this, it was necessary to challenge the routes of progression to improve representation in senior positions. 

He said doing so encouraged people from under-represented backgrounds to consider a career path if they saw someone they identified with in senior roles. 

Thompson added: “We all have a part to play. What will be the legacy in the specialist market of diversity? That’s something we as senior leaders need to think about in the industry.”


Fitting in and standing out 

Thompson and Jupp spoke of the differing ways their education gave them the confidence to progress to their current positions. 

Jupp said he was the first person in his family to go to university and was surrounded by classmates who were public school educated, as well as middle and upper class. 

He said his classmates were “more confident, better travelled, more sophisticated, had done things that I’d never even heard of”. 

In that situation, Jupp’s choices were to accept his “lowly place” or challenge his environment and try to socially climb up and be equal to or better than his peers. 

Conversely, gaining an education in an environment where he fitted in made Thompson feel self-assured. 

Born in Epsom, Thompson left England at the age of four to live in the Caribbean. He was educated in Barbados until he was 18.  

“My education was primarily in a place where everybody looked like me, sounded like me, and the highest jobs in the land were done by people like me. So, I guess, that education was quite strengthening for me in terms of I never felt there were barriers to progression based on who you were.”

Thompson did not go to university because his mother died when he was 16 and he did not want his father to pay for tuition fees while raising two sons on his own. 

He said not going into further education had always given him a “chip on his shoulder” and made him feel as though he had to continue bettering himself by reading and learning, even until now. 

Despite this, he said not having this experience also drove him to keep striving in a profession which traditionally favoured graduates. 

“I recognised very early on that in the big banks people like me weren’t in senior positions. If I was going to get there, I had to have a very layered career,” Thompson said. 

For him, this meant staying on the road to do jobs others refused due to travel. He added: “Whenever someone told me I couldn’t do it, I found a way out and a route.” 

Thompson said the new generation of more diverse workers would be equally determined to find a way into the roles they wanted.

“Diversity will find itself in the places where it feels more at home. It’s about the industry recognising you’re going to lose talent if you don’t find the pathways,” he said. 

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