Sarah Tucker, Founder and Managing Director of The Mortgage Mum talks to us about her career in the mortgage industry, referring clients to Personal Retirement Planning and how to strike a balance between being a mum and setting up a business.
Sarah, tell us a little bit about you and your background
I worked as a Mortgage Administrator in my first full time job pre-credit crunch; and I absolutely loved it! Sadly, the credit crunch happened, and we all got made redundant; and so, I began a long career in London working as a Legal PA for 10 years.
When I had my daughter Sienna, I returned to my role in London part time and I started to consider what life would be like when she started school and if I had another child. I knew I wanted to be able to drop her off and pick her up and so I decided when she was 18 months old to study my CeMAP qualification and work as a Mortgage Broker on the side. It took me 6 months and was a huge juggle, but as soon as I started working as a broker, I absolutely loved it! To start with it was my pocket money, and I was able to balance the 2 jobs until I found out I was expecting my son Joshua. When he was born, I decided to make the leap to go self-employed full time as a Mortgage Broker and I worked the role around both of my children. It worked so incredibly well! I called myself “The Mortgage Mum” and I did regular live videos on social media to try to make mortgages more accessible to women and to normalise it. They got some fantastic traction and the balance the role gave me was amazing. I was able to be at the school gate, watching the nativity plays and the sports days, whilst enjoying my own career working from home. I even had time to start singing again! I started to realise that other mums and women would love to have the balance I enjoyed. I started doing singing auditions again in my spare time and this year I was thrilled to appear on The Voice UK! It was incredible! During the filming period before the show officially aired, I told my then boss (and now my business partner) Jamie Lewis (CEO of Affinity Mortgages) of my ambition to turn “The Mortgage Mum” into a company and train other mums and women to become brokers within our brand. We decided to set the company up together and now here we are 1 year down the line with 8 qualified Mortgage Mums and 150 women studying!
You launched a business in January 2019, can you tell us all about it?
It was December 2018 and I was appearing on The Voice UK when we decided to set up and launch The Mortgage Mum. I had performed at my blind audition and I had just won my battle audition, and both were due to be aired on ITV in January and February 2019. It was an incredibly exciting time and I felt brave, courageous and ambitious! I am so grateful to The Voice for pushing me out of my comfort zone as I would have never set The Mortgage Mum up otherwise. Jamie Lewis and I worked very closely together at Affinity Mortgages, and I was always incredibly grateful to him for allowing me the balance of mum and work life without ever applying any pressure.
When I told him of my ambitions for The Mortgage Mum to become its own company, and to create a movement for women in the industry, he was once again extremely supportive and we decided it was the right time to go for it! I was kept busy with The Voice and my singing all year; but I also had a profile which meant I could make a real difference. We are amazed at the response. Women from all over the UK are studying and excited and this just proves what a need there is to create TRUE flexible working for women in the UK. Family life is a juggle and we understand that! We have created a real community, and it is a wonderful feeling watching these women take back control of their lives and their families.
How would you describe the current property and mortgage market?
On the one hand I think the current property and mortgage market is tentative and people are very nervous about what the future holds.
On the other hand, I think it is an incredibly exciting time. This is a time of change. We can all feel it. We don’t know what is going to happen, but we know the industry is changing. Social media has an increasing influence, marketing is changing, the way we transact with customers is changing and there is a rise of women entering the market. We are looking to carve a path for women in the financial services industry and create a blueprint of flexible working for families (not just women and not just in this industry!). By putting employees in the driver’s seat we feel we will demonstrate that flexibility doesn’t compromise on success.
I feel the changes in the industry are going to work hand in hand with everything we are trying to do at The Mortgage Mum, and without change we are not moving forward. I know we all need to be pushed out of our comfort zone, the best things are often found on the other side of it! This year has been the biggest example of that for me.
Mortgage rates plummeted to record lows, what consumer trends have you seen as a result?
Customers are keen to grab hold of a good fixed rate and keep it for as long as possible!
The equity release industry has soared to new heights this year, how has this affected your line of work? And how do you see it going forward?
I have felt in recent years that equity release is a growing market and I think the stigma is starting to fade. Better products and better knowledge mean people feel more comfortable about releasing equity from their home. We absolutely support equity release when it is right for the customer and thanks to PRP we feel comfortable with referrals in this area.
I don’t personally feel this has hugely affected our line of work. We are focused on the happiness and wellbeing of families; and equity release referrals support that. We have provided this solution by referral to a few customers and they have been thrilled with the outcome.
If anything, I think it enhances our service.
You refer clients to Personal Retirement Planning for equity release, could you tell us about that?
Our focus is on service and we work with those who we feel deliver great service to our customers. It is the most important thing! Our customers trust us, and therefore our referrals are an extension of that.
We have been working with Barry Leigh at Personal Retirement Planning for a number of years and he is incredible. Our clients love him and so do we! He is efficient, personable, knowledgeable and great at his job! We feel privileged to work with him at The Mortgage Mum and are grateful to him for the customers he has looked after for us.