Here at Equity Release Supermarket (ERS), we believe that our workforce should be just as diverse as the customers we serve. That’s why we are placing a greater emphasis on building a gender-balanced adviser network for our business.
Just take last year, for instance, when we more than doubled the number of female advisers in the ERS team. As we continue to promote a more gender balanced workforce, this presents a positive change in an industry that has historically displayed a lack of diversity, with only 15% of equity release advisers being women.
Thankfully, equity release companies like ours are making it possible for more women to thrive in the sector. Here, we chat with two of our newest advisers – Alice Gardner and Jo McCormick - about how they have found working with ERS, and what it means to be a female in the industry.
What first attracted you to the financial services sector?
Alice: I’ve worked in financial services since leaving school. First in insurance, then mortgages, and now in equity release. Equity release appealed because I feel I can really make a difference to people’s lives. I love hearing about all my clients’ lives and learning how they want to spend their retirement. Helping them is really rewarding.
Jo: I started at NatWest as a financial adviser more than 20 years ago and then joined Coutts. As a Chartered Financial Planner, I enjoy helping people. That’s what I like doing the most; helping people feel confident about their finances.
What are some of the benefits of working for ERS?
Alice: I chose to work for ERS because they share my passion for providing honest, no-pressure advice to the client.
They are forward-thinking with their technology available, such as online case tracking, and this helps to keep everything streamlined and orderly. I’ve also found there is great communication between admin and compliance, meaning I get more time to do my job and focus on the client.
Jo: The main benefit of working with ERS is the freedom to make the most out of every opportunity. The customers also really appreciate the way we do business at ERS and all the information available on the website, which makes my job a lot easier.
Another big benefit is that as an adviser, I am the first point of contact for potential clients and I stay with them throughout the entire process.
What’s different about the culture at Equity Release Supermarket?
Alice: The culture at ERS is about what’s best for the client. It’s a refreshing change. Here, there is a tangible feeling of being one big team, where everyone is always happy to help each other and share ideas.
Jo: I feel like I’m allowed to focus on what’s important here – speaking with clients and providing good advice without being micro-managed or dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy.
I feel that Mark [Gregory, founder of ERS] puts his trust in his advisers and, in turn, it makes me want to do the best for the company. Having only joined last last year, I have to say that the advisers I have dealt with have all been so helpful and friendly. I’m also a working parent, so being able to control my own diary (and knowing I can make my son’s sports day) is also a massive plus.
Do you think more women are entering the equity release sector?
Alice: The sector has always been male-dominated, but there have been changes over the past three years and it definitely feels like there are more female advisers now. There also isn’t such a stigma around younger advisers, either, especially as I have been so successful in my role at ERS. I find that clients just want a friendly adviser they can trust. Age and gender are irrelevant to them.
Jo: Female advisers have always been in the minority, although I do feel there are more women joining the industry. I had reservations about being a female in the industry when I started all those years ago, but throughout my career I’ve always found it to be an advantage.
Would you encourage more women to get into equity release?
Alice: Yes! There is a lot of opportunity for women to build a career in an environment that is always evolving. If you are friendly, honest and approachable, then you have the basis to become a great equity release adviser.
Jo: Definitely. The work/life balance for me as a working parent is amazing. Being home-based, I’m also in charge of my own diary so I can be there for the important moments in my children’s lives.
I know from speaking to Mark that he definitely sees female advisers as a positive for the business and this can be seen with the growing number of female advisers at ERS.
Join our team
Feeling inspired? This could be a great time for you to start a finance career with Equity Release Supermarket.
Whether you have an equity release background or are currently a financial services professional, it doesn’t matter – as long as you’re eager to help people with their finances, then you could be a perfect match. Who knows, maybe there will be an article about you this time next year!