‘I am ready for the challenge’

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Kirsty Botten Roma Finance

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Kirsty Botten, business development manager, London and the South East, at Roma Finance.

Kirsty  is passionate about supporting brokers and introducers across the region to grow their business and find funding solutions for their clients.

Kirsty has over 10 years’ experience in the property sector, previously working as a broker for a finance business in central London, as well as for an award-winning brokerage in Hertfordshire, among other roles in the property finance sector.

What brought you into financial services? 

I was lucky enough to meet a very strong woman in the financial services industry which both inspired me and made it possible for me to enter the bridging sector.

I’ve always worked in the property sector and was lucky enough to be invited for dinner by a well-known woman in the bridging industry.

As an inquisitive person I asked her some questions about her business and later looked into opportunities in her sector.

After a few months I was offered a position within her company and that’s where it all started.

I wanted to be as successful in my role as she was in her business. She inspired me to improve my skills and push forward and I haven’t looked back.

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

I think a successful leader has a strong passion for what they do with the drive to succeed and improve on their last success or failure.

Being a leader you need to take time to understand your team and work with them to be the best they can be.

As a woman leader you have to be a strong character in what is a very masculine industry, very robust and also able to show authority.

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

The pandemic has had a huge impact. As a broker last year I went from seeing a lucrative pipeline to a slow down on completions and uncertainty over lenders’ criteria and their appetite to lend.

I was also going through a career change as I wanted to work within a lender, which was a big decision to make, particularly in uncertain times.

What made my choice easier was that Roma had continued to lend during this hard time and gave help to those in a difficult positions, so I felt reassured about their stability and their values.

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

Don’t rush, take your time and listen, read and improve your knowledge as this will always take you further.

What’s your own personal mantra?

I am ready for the challenge.

This is my mantra as I’m always willing to push myself.

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

I’ve been a single mum in a full-time role for most of my working life and finding balance is difficult, as every mother knows. We have all felt guilt when we’ve had to work long hours and spend time away from our children.

But all the companies I’ve worked with have been very kind to me. To find a work-life balance you have to be organised and able to prioritise tasks.

I used to write everything on a calendar before we had them on our phones, to remind me of what I had to do, and had promised to do, with my daughter.

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Be consistent and understanding.

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

Always push for that next stage. Never doubt yourself and if you don’t know ask for help, as people are happy to help. Have a goal and drive towards it.

What do you think is holding women back?

Women are being held back for lots of reasons, including starting a family and childcare issues.

But I think times have changed a lot and that more women are finding the drive to push for more senior roles.

It helps that more strong women are speaking out about the opportunities available and their own successes.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Yes, but things are moving in the right direction. Women are speaking out and having their voice heard across all industries.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

I think all companies should be signed up to it.

It’s shows that you take diversity and equal opportunities seriously and gives women encouragement that they can build a career in financial services.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

Advertise more flexible positions to suit women’s needs, with working from home as an option or working outside of normal office hours.

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

Change is happening and women are getting noticed for their achievements and being offered more senior roles across the industry.

Organisations can look at encouraging salary negotiation by showing salary ranges, introduce transparency to promotions and pay and reward processes. This will help towards closing the pay gap.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Being given this opportunity to become a business development manager for a well-established lender – Roma – and being their face and key contact for the London and South East region.

To be able to meet and work closely with brokers and deliver on this side of the fence is what I’ve worked towards since I started my career in this industry.