Many years ago I bought an expensive piece of jewelery and, being the sensible person I was back then, I decided to insure it. I called into a well known insurance company’s office near where I lived and, as I was relatively smartly dressed (I had been somewhere “special” for the day), I was immediately mistaken for a job applicant that was due in at the time I arrived.
As I was ushered into the managers office, I was asked in a friendly way why I would like to work there. My response of “Work here? You’ve got to be kidding, my Dad says you are all crooks that just take the money and never give any back”, was not the one the chap was expecting.
Persevering, but with noticebly less confidence, he continued to ask me why I was there if I felt that way? The misunderstanding was soon cleared up, but not before I had enjoyed telling him just what I really thought about insurance, his company and the industry in general. In truth I was just repeating half truths and anecdotes about a subject on which I really knew almost nothing. But who cared, I was a young know all having fun. We shook hands and parted.
A few days later my Mother told me that the chap from the insurance company had called for me while I was at work. I called him back expecting to talk about the policy I had taken out, instead, he told me that the job applicant that had been due in had failed to turn up and he wondered if I would like to return and have a proper interview as he quite liked meeting me that day.
I explained that I thought it would be pointless as I could hardly see him again and explain that I was “passionate about insurance” and had “always wanted to work in the finance industry” after my tirade in his office. He paused before saying that he still thought I would be a good fit for his company and what did I suggest he should do in order to persuade me to come in for an interview. I asked him what the pay was and when he told me I said I would take the job but would have to give a months notice to my present employer.
He laughed and said that he hadn’t offered me the job yet, I said that he wouldn’t be putting this amount of effort in unless he was going to, so why waste time? We agreed a meeting the following week to complete paperwork and a start date three weeks later.
My career in the financial sector had begun.
In those days it was possible to work, take exams and learn about a wide range of sectors within the insurance and finance industry, and I took full advantage.
That first job taught me about car and house insurance as well as pensions, investments and life insurance. It gave me the confidence to start my own business five years later within a medium size brokers in London which, in turn, led to me working at the sharp end of mortgages and commercial finance.
That project came to an end when the owners decided to retire. I was offered the opportunity to take on an Appointed Representative business with the backing of a top insurance company and my second go at starting from scratch was underway .
This business was more focused on mortgages, and despite launching only a few months before the housing crash of the late 80’s, it survived quite well.
Eventually personal circumstances changed and I decided to move away from London. Starting from scratch again in an unfamiliar part of the country didn’t seem like a sensible idea, so I went back to employment as a representative of a large insurance company dealing with investments, pensions, life insurance and mortgages.
It was during this time that I was selected to be one of those authorised to advise on Equity Release plans. I got quite hooked on the details of these plans and quickly came to the conclusion that for the right people they were a great idea, but for the wrong type of client, they were terrible.
I spent a very happy time in that job. I was allowed to advise in the way that I wanted. No one was breathing down my neck just to “flog” something. I was working the way I always wanted to and driving all over one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Then, after a number of years, the company closed that division and I was made redundant for the first time in my life.
Fortunately, I had made good contacts, and an opportunity, virtually identical to the one oh so many years ago, presented itself and I found myself once again running an office within a medium size brokers and dealing with every aspect of insurance and finance. We even had our own product and that gave me a chance to do a bit of actual underwriting as well.
I think it was the polarising nature of Equity Release that has kept me interested in it right up to this day. So much so that I am now spending some time as a business consultant to an online business specialising in putting people who want to know more about mortgages, including equity release, in touch with qualified people that can advise them.
This time it included an element of claims administration and I found myself on occasion wandering around properties ravaged by fire or damaged by flood. It was both interesting and sobering.
All good things come to an end and I became settled on the idea that I had retired from the industry. I even took a couple of part time (non finance) jobs in order to keep the connection with the human race
I started a blog in order to satisfy my active interest in the finance world and to have a bit of a rant about things that annoyed me. But I didn’t do it properly, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing. But it did trigger an interest in online business, networking and learning.
I was also occasionally getting the odd call asking if I could help someone with getting a mortgage or some other type of finance. I was always happy to pass on a number of someone that I thought may be able to help.
Then a few things happened all at once which changed my life again. Firstly, I was talking with a friend who was frustrated that they were not having a lot of luck getting a commercial loan to buy the shop they were leasing. A couple of calls and the situation was resolved.
About a month after the deal was completed I took a call from the company that arranged the finance. They wanted to know where to send the introducers fee as they didnt have any details for me on their records. I explained that all I had done was give the client their number and that I wasn’t a broker any more. They were insistant that this money had to be sent somewhere, so I suggested giving it to the client. I was sure they would be grateful for it. They reluctantly did that while mumbling that it “wasn’t normal” That made me chuckle. They also asked me if I wanted an agency with them.
The second thing that happened was a chance meeting with an old friend who had a thriving equity release business. We spoke about how we would like to present the product in an online fashion and I said how I would like to write or edit the content.
Then, my daughter, who was in her last year of uni studying business approached me with a proposition. She had already got an online retail business but she needed to set up a new business as a part of her course and had come up with the idea of a website that would help demistify the jargon of insurance and mortgages, and also put people in touch with qualified providers who could help them. The final piece of the jigsaw came together when she said that her partner, a software developer, would love to build a bespoke website for the idea.
So that’s where we are now. I have resurrected this blog where I hope to post things that may be useful, but I’m also helping with an exciting new business. I am really hoping that a service that aims to connect potential clients with qualified providers is going to be well received, especially to those people who may fall outside of what the mainstream lenders would call standard.
The website for the new business should be up in a few weeks. In the meantime, if you have a question about mortgages, equity release or commercial finance just contact me and I will see what I can do to point you in the right direction.