A seasoned recruiter with experience of recruiting through recessions. A passionate advocate of the specialist lending sector and a career that spans over 15 years, placing thousands of individuals at various levels within their career.
When hiring at grass roots level within the industry, one of the things I advise is that property finance is resilient and robust and no matter what happens in the economy, there are always opportunities within this sector. COVID-19 really demonstrated the agility of the industry. The speed in which all our traditional trading methods were stripped away from us almost paled in comparison to the speed in which we found the work arounds. Technology and physical processes were quickly replaced with initiatives that were years away
from implementation and recruitment was no different.
The initial phase of lockdown was ghostly quiet in terms of new starters but bustling with activity from candidates that were let go before furlough was announced or at the beginning when businesses had to make tough decisions knowing that cash flow was going to a problem for the foreseeable future. June saw the emergence of the virtual interviews, as soon as valuations were able to take place we started to see the re-fi market open up, job roles that had been placed on hold “whilst we wait to see what this Covid thing is
all about” went live again and business owners and hiring managers came to us with sentiments of wanting to strengthen, grow and survive.
Just as brokers and underwriters now have new considerations when deciding who to lend to and how much, we also have new factors that we must consider. Headhunting passive candidates is trickier and industry reputation and trust has never been more pertinent. Our candidates know that if we are manoeuvring them out of a role it is done with the comfort that our client can sustain that hire, come what may. On the client side, our consultancy support is needed more than ever. It is easy to think candidates
have less choices and therefore will be more open to lower salaries, but this is short lived and not accurate - we are just starting to see the first tranche of candidates asking us to benchmark their salaries that were offered during lock down.
Largely, the pandemic has bought positive change to our industry and just like the mortgage sector, advances in virtual technologies have refined the way in which we work and we are now able to quote much shorter run ups for interviews and times to hire. The emergence of home working and the rise of social media, predominantly LinkedIn, has given us the ‘perfect storm’ in terms of captive audience. Our LinkedIn following increased by 848% during lockdown.
Even when there really was not much to do, we never stopped working with candidates to build their profiles and assist with CV writing. We spent time speaking to business owners and supporting them with ideas for financing themselves out of the business interruption and access to HR policies that had never been needed before for home working – all free of charge. We can have confidential discussions much easier now that 75% of office workers are conducting their duties largely from home.
The way that business handled the ramifications of the pandemic with their staff was very telling and has led to candidates coming to market that probably would not have previously looked. Brokers that have seen what happens when you have no residual income are now in the early stages of planning to launch or buy into lending arms that will give that constant flow of cash during any future lockdown of the property market and also open them up to exciting exit plans in the future. As with the last recession, there is the feeling of being greedy when others are fearful so there is plenty of investment to new business areas, new start-ups and new ventures. In turn, this creates a wave of new opportunity. Writing this at the start of Q4 of 2020, my predictions for the remainder of this year in terms of recruitment for the specialist mortgage sector are:
📝 The contract market will remain strong, we will see companies recruit quick hires into the servicing and collections, underwriting and new business processing teams
📝 The buy to let sector will experience a flurry of new hires to the underwriting teams as we see investors mop up where the 1st time buyers are priced out
📝 Bridging will remain strong and well-funded lenders will make opportunist hires in their underwriting functions
📝 December will be like no other December in recruitment that I have experienced, in that there will be more new starters than previously seen at this time of year
To say I am a proud to work alongside the mortgage industry would be an understatement. The industry has shown nothing but resilience and determination. During the strangest of times when everything was so new, everyone came together to look after customers and provide the best outcomes they could. It is an industry that supports its customers during their best and worst times. The way that property finance changes lives is nothing but exciting in the way it creates opportunities and wealth and provides security to its customers. I am so looking forward to the next 15 years - it is just going to be so exciting as we start to see the 1st generation of candidates become their own hiring managers and business owners referring the 2nd generation through. I will advise them the same, that no matter what happens in the economy, there with always be opportunities within this sector.