‘Always find it in yourself to be kind to people’

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Pippa Betts Masthaven Bank

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Pippa Betts, Senior Underwriter at Masthaven Bank.

What brought you into financial services?

After previously working with unsecured lenders, I needed to decide what path I wanted my career to take, whether that meant staying in finance or moving to a completely different field.

I got chatting to the director of a lender who said I would make a great fit for an underwriter role.

I decided to give it a go and I am so glad that I did. The moral of the story is to always be open and talk to people, as you never know where it may take you!

What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?

There are a number of qualities that contribute to successful leadership, but I would say the key traits include having good listening and communications skills.

It’s so important to listen to people and what they have to say. Being open to hearing different perspectives is key to effective leadership.

Equally, being able to communicate and build relationships with the people you work with is vital.

This is more important than ever while people are remote working and feeling more isolated.

Finally, earning the trust of your team and following through on any promises you make is crucial in making sure you are respected as a leader.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?

I wouldn’t say I’ve faced any major barriers in my career so far, but that’s not to say they don’t exist.

The road to success for women in finance is not without its obstacles, but I avoid seeing them as barriers and instead try to come up with solutions.

It’s important to remain calm and take your time, as more often than not there is a way to overcome most things.

If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be? 

Stop worrying. I used to spend a lot of time worrying about things that were beyond my control.  Remember that whatever we are stressing about today will be history by next week.

What’s your own personal mantra?

I do not have a mantra as such, but I always say it is nice to be nice!

It is easy to forget that a lot of our customers are likely applying for a bridging loan for the first time, meaning they might feel daunted by the process and need extra support.

Also, many customers come to us to because of some kind of life event and so it is our job to relieve some of this pressure, not add to it.

Always find it in yourself to be kind to people.

What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?

It is so important to find a successful work-life balance and to make sure you are finding time to recharge.

Although, I am guilty of not taking my own advice at times, I do always try to find time to go out for a walk, take a break and do my best not to check in on my work in my own personal time.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

If you want to be a leader, show you are capable and find your voice to push for that role.

It takes hard work but going above and beyond your role to show your capabilities will be valuable in helping to reach senior positions.

I truly believe that if you want something enough then you can achieve it.

What do you think is holding women back?

Confidence plays a big factor. Women tend to question things a lot more than men do and so I think the only thing holding them back is themselves!

Women are more likely to lack the confidence to ask for a promotion or doubt their abilities, which is a great shame.

The best advice I would give is to just go for it and put yourself out there.

The worst that can happen is ‘No’, which is still something we can take away and learn a valuable lesson from.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

I am fortunate enough to work for a company where women in leadership positions are encouraged.

I feel optimistic that we are breaking the glass ceilings and times are changing.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

Without programmes like this, nothing will ever change and improve, so it is a great step forward.  The first step is always to raise awareness.

Everyone deserves to be given equal opportunities, regardless of their gender.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

Although times have changed and the finance industry is more diverse than it was, many women still have a perceived image of the industry in their minds.

We absolutely need to change these perceptions of what we are to encourage more women to join the industry.

This will involve each and every financial company making sure its culture is geared towards ensuring gender equality is enshrined in its core values.

The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?

Organisations need to be transparent about salaries. At Masthaven, we regularly benchmark roles and salaries to ensure the whole team, regardless of gender, are being compensated fairly.

There are also initiatives and programmes that businesses can join or develop to empower women and encourage them into senior positions.

Masthaven’s Women in Leadership programme provides a support network for female leaders and resources in the form of webinars and coaching.

The success of the programme is demonstrated by recent promotions of women to director-level positions.