Adams started his career in the mortgage world at the age of 16 at Natwest, before moving to Beneficial Trust.
He launched Stonebridge in 1988 as an independent brokerage, working from his bed-sit in Leigh-on-Sea, often working from his bed as there was no room for a desk, according to his wife Jan Adams.
It has since grown into one of the UK’s largest mortgage networks with 945 advisers across 450 member firms, completing £8bn of mortgage lending per year.
Adams stepped down as managing director of Stonebridge Group in 2019 and moved into an advisory role.
During his career, he won three lifetime achievement awards, most recently at the British Mortgage Awards in 2019.
He died at home on 26 December 2021 and leaves his wife Jan, son Tom and daughter Robyn.
An “outstanding leader” with “understated generosity”
His wife Jan said that as a boy he was “always full of fun, mischief and much love”, and this was very much the same as an adult.
She added that he always had a “great curiosity” and an entrepreneurial streak as he was keen to start working and earning during and after school.
Prior to his mortgage career he sold sweets, cassette tapes and other items to school friends, and worked part-time at the petrol garage filling cars.
She added that he also had a “determination to succeed”, playing piano and trombone in his school band and getting honours in music exams despite his music teacher saying he was not good enough.
Rob Clifford, who became chief executive of Stonebridge in 2019, said: “We are all devastated by the news that Richard has passed away but feel incredibly lucky to have known him, to have had time with him, and to be able to reflect on an incredible life and a wonderful man.
“There’s no doubting that he was an all-round good guy: professional, straight-talking and completely committed to all that was important to him, whether it was his family, Stonebridge, his staff, our member firms, industry relationships or the wider mortgage and protection market.”
He said Adams was an “outstanding leader”, but he had an “understated generosity” which was shown in the number of people who stayed with Stonebridge for many years.
Clifford said despite winning outstanding contribution and lifetime achievement awards he was “without ego and was always more concerned with giving the entire Stonebridge team credit for the success they had collectively secured”.
He added: “With Richard’s passing, we have not only lost a titan of our industry, but a true advocate for the advice profession, and a true friend. It is a sad day for all but I, like many, am simply glad to have spent time in his company and to be, in some way, standing on his shoulders given everything he did for this business and our sector.
“We will all miss him dearly and send our deepest condolences and love to Richard’s family at this very difficult time.”
He was well-respected within the industry, described as generous, kind and a “true gentleman” by many.
Peter Brodnicki, chief executive of Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “Richard has been quite incredible during his often tortuous battle to beat his illness, and is an inspiration to us all. His family must have been incredibly proud of him. It was a privilege to call him my friend, and he will be dearly missed by many.”
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, added: “I am grateful that Richard, through the annual conferences, allowed me to be a small part of the Stonebridge journey. A man of humour, warmth and affection for others with a kindness that always made me try to be better.
“His bravery in living with illness and still being Richard makes me smile. On the one hand with a heavy heart, I will miss him, on the other I am the better for the time I spent in his presence. My love to all his family and friends as we remember him.”