From paper maché to property

By Laura Miller -

Alison Dalton The Property Finance Collective

Imagine being surrounded by a crowd of screaming under 5s, as well as having one at home, and thinking, “this is too easy, I need a challenge”. No, me neither. But that’s what happened to Alison Dalton over at broker The Property Finance Collective.

“A friend said they were hiring in their new company The Property Finance Guy [now Collective]. I was very nervous to accept the role, I had no experience working in an office, and even less of property finance,” Dalton says.

Selling mortgages at Santander, advising on pensions or even arranging car loans – entering bridging usually follows another type of finance. Dalton jumped straight from paper maché to property and asked questions later.

“Working with early years children was something I had always wanted to do and after undertaking a degree in the subject I was a childcare practitioner for many years,” Dalton recalls, “it was something I loved”.

That changed when she had a child. If anything, career changes for women when they start a family mean – by choice, necessity or nefarious employers – switching down a gear. Instead Dalton wanted more, and she wanted out.

“I had always said I could never see myself working in an office. But after having my son and returning to my job in childcare I slowly began to realise that was just not challenging enough, I was no longer finding enjoyment in my role,” she says.

Impressively, just three days as an administrator at The Property Collective she was already bored.

“I decided instead I would like to give broking a go. I quickly had to learn the ropes and what was involved in a deal from start to finish,” she says.

With nurseries suffering months of lockdown and uncertain reopening rules during the pandemic, the move into bridging has never looked so smart.

All this radical transformation happened just a little over a year and a half ago. Dalton has spent the time connecting with lenders on The Property Collective’s panel and devouring even the driest of their product descriptions.

“I very much learned on the job and embraced the challenge. I love how fast paced the industry is. Things are constantly changing which keeps me on my toes!” she says.

Right now the challenge has been overcoming knee-jerk reactions from lenders to the pandemic. “Many lenders reduced their LTV’s, but thankfully they are beginning to return to their normal rates and the market is becoming more competitive again,” she says.

Childcare to case management is a transition that has, she says, been helped by the people she has met in bridging, contrary to what can be the frosty reception given by finance to some outsiders.

“Everyone I have met along the way has been very friendly and helpful in answering my questions,” she says, “I’ve never had any regrets about changing careers”.

Like many of us she longs for the return of these face-to-face interactions.

“Networking is a big part of how we meet new people and build relationships with the lenders,” she says, especially for someone, like her, new to the sector: “It helps build your confidence and get to know people better than through email”.

After almost a decade of corralling children, Dalton finds she is also missing that office she once thought she would never work in.

“We have a great dynamic,” she says, “it makes coming in easier knowing it is a relaxed atmosphere – one where we can have a joke, but still get the job done.”