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Change Maker: Andrew Montlake, managing director, Coreco

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  • 29/01/2024
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Change Maker: Andrew Montlake, managing director, Coreco
As part of the Change Makers initiative, Mortgage Solutions spoke to Andrew Montlake (pictured), managing director of Coreco about mental health challenges in the mortgage industry, why the sector must embrace diversity and how he feels to have been nominated as a Change Maker.

Andrew Montlake is a well-known figure in the mortgage industry with over thirty years of experience. He has been managing director of Coreco for nearly five years, a company he has graced for a decade and a half. Prior to that, he had stints with Colbalt Capital and John Charcol.

He is currently chairman of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and is an advocate for diversity and inclusivity (D&I) in the industry as well as a passionate support of mental health initiatives. All of this led to his nomination as a Mortgage Solutions‘ Change Maker.

 

 

Why were you nominated for the Change Makers initiative?

I think overall it’s for my obvious passion and commitment to helping to affect change in the industry rather than one specific reason.

As chair of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), being part of the D&I steering group, together with a phenomenal team of like-minded people, I am very proud of all we have achieved with the whole diversity and inclusivity programme, as well as being an active member of the excellent Mortgage Solutions Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum (DIFF).

It’s something that I am personally very passionate about, and everyone can see that in the speeches I do or columns I write.

I do try and speak out about how the industry should change and what we should do and how we can be more inclusive. It’s a bit of a duty for me to do this in an industry that’s given me so much. I want to give back and help the next generation of people within the industry who’ve got so much to offer but, for some reason, have either been passed over or neglected.

 

How is the mortgage industry doing in terms of diversity and inclusivity?

I’ve been in the industry a long time and I’ve seen a change. Although we’re nowhere near where we need to be, we have got so much better.

When I started in the industry, you’d go to a function and you could count the number of women on one hand, it was very male orientated. And norms of behaviour were very different to how it is today.

When we did the AMI Viewpoint, it opened a can of worms. And that’s what we wanted to do. There are people who feel disconnected from the industry, which is so wrong. We have an obligation to make sure no one feels sidelined or alone in this industry.

Looking back [personally], I’ve had antisemitic comments, seen someone fired because they were pregnant, or heard comments around mental health,  – the whole ‘man up’ attitude – and whilst it is changing it needs to change more quickly.

In terms of diversity, at Coreco, as we are based in London, diversity has never been as much of an issue as it might be in some other areas of the country. But if we want to represent our client base properly, we need to have a representative broker base. And that’s what we try and do, we’ve never recruited anyone other than on their merit, and we have a 100 per cent female senior management team.

We’ve always embraced diversity naturally. And my view has always been that if you’ve got the same type of people around the table, what’s the point? You need lots of different views. Its all about culture add rather than culture fit.

 

What kind of practical aspects have you put in place?

Mental health is an issue I am passionate about. At Coreco, we were one of the founding members of the Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter. That’s something that we really have embraced. And that was something very important to me, in an industry that’s very stressful.

Being a broker can be quite a lonely, stressful existence sometimes, especially since the pandemic, where I think there’s been a bit of a mental health explosion, because people didn’t have the camaraderie around them from going into an office every day. Problems were magnified.

We’ve trained up mental health first aiders within our business, and it’s something we talk about a lot at presentations because it’s about reminding people that it’s okay not to be okay.

 

From a diversity perspective, how is the industry doing?

It’s going well but there is much more to do. There’s a core of great people from all types in the industry who are passionate about making change. For example, we are making headway in terms of who is invited to events, and how these are conducted.

I don’t think the same people with poor behaviour traits should be invited just because they are big business writers or contributors.

And we are making some headway with recruitment but, as an industry, we need to look at how we appeal to females or ethnic minorities.

For example, in the way we advertise roles. One thing I learned early on is how a female candidate would look at a recruitment ad compared to a male.

If there are 10 points on the job description, a man may look at it and say ‘I can do three of them really well, and I’ll pick up the rest later’ and they might apply anyway. However, a female candidate would look at the ad in a different way and may be put off applying for the role if they didn’t feel they could do 90 per cent of the points.

And this is possibly the same with someone from an ethnic minority background. They could look at the About Us page on a company website and not see anyone who looks like them, certainly not in any high positions, so will wonder if their progression will be stifled and therefore won’t apply for the role.

It’s about making sure that you have positive statements that you’re an equal opportunities employer, and even if someone thinks they can’t do some parts of the role, they should still apply. As an industry, we need to think a bit more about recruitment, and be aware of our unconscious biases.

It will take a while before we really start to see more diversity at board and managing director level, but that’s where we need to get to. Inclusivity means that everyone has a voice and that should be at board level. We don’t need dinosaurs with outdated views anymore.

 

How did it feel being nominated as a Change Maker?

I had tears in my eyes. It’s great to get awards and things like that, and every single one means a lot to me, but I think this was being recognised for, at least, trying to make a difference. That means something. And I’m prouder of that than anything.

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