Forensic Scientist to Financial Times Top 25 Financial Adviser…
I always wanted to be an airline pilot growing up but became a Forensic Scientist (long story!) I did this job and loved it for 15 years before getting into property with my husband, Stuart. We started out buying properties for refurbishment and selling them for profit. Then we started to keep some and building our portfolio in the Midlands including conversions, development, new build and lots of then little known and creative strategies such as lease options and sale and rent back. We did several hundred property deals between 2000 and 2007, when we got married and decided to scale back from our property endeavours.
Unfortunately our timing wasn’t great and the credit crunch hit so we just sat tight. In the meantime I got bored! Looking at alternative business opportunities I was helping one of our builders with his mortgage matters and he said ‘you’d make a good mortgage adviser’. I hadn’t even considered it but thought why not! I took the qualifications and started Keys Mortgages in 2009.
From that point on I absolutely fell in love with the business. Problem solving is what I love to do; unlike many property investors whose favourite childhood game was Monopoly, mine was Cluedo – no wonder I ended up a forensic scientist! The attention to detail, research and the problem solving aspects are a surprising overlap with my former career and I get to combine that with property which I also love.
Of course I’m pleased to arrange even the simplest mortgage for a client, but there’s nothing better than sinking my teeth into a tricky portfolio restructuring, finding a financing solution for a development project, or helping a client with the best way to structure a seemingly “impossible” deal.
In fact, a phrase I hear a lot is “So many brokers told me this wasn’t possible” – yet by looking at the situation from a fresh perspective, I usually find a way to make it work.
Above all, I make it work without breaking any rules.
Unfortunately, in property, “creative” can often be seen as synonymous with “dodgy”. Every so often a prospective client will propose something that’s a blatant breach of lenders’ rules…and seem taken aback when I refuse to do business with them! And given my previous job this shouldn’t come as a surprise!
I never forget that as an intermediary I represent the lender and the regulators as well as the client. I would never compromise that relationship by allowing a client to do something they shouldn’t, but I’m able to make legitimate deals happen that other brokers wouldn’t think possible. How? By having a personal relationship with the lenders, knowing their criteria inside out, and having their preferences and requirements at the front of my mind at all times.
Just as I know what lenders are looking for, I need to know the ins and outs of my clients’ lives in the same depth so I can be on the lookout for alternative solutions that might be better suited to their aims and circumstances.
And, importantly, it’s also a lot of fun! One client said that he’d told me things he hadn’t told anyone, ever – and it’s that personal relationship with clients that makes it so rewarding for me when I get a brilliant result for them. My clients come from every imaginable walk of life, and being a friend to all of them is one of the real pleasures of my job.
My clients are happy to pay my fees because they know they’re getting great value – and my fee structure welcomes the loyalty and repeat business that I value above everything else.