Why bridging finance is a great sector for young people to build a career in

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Michael Allison Roma Finance

It’s up to businesses in bridging to make themselves attractive to young people, and to develop talent, says Michael Allison, operations director at Roma Finance.

Many of us in bridging finance already know what a great sector this is to work in.

It’s fast-paced, built on strong relationships and people skills, and it can be financially rewarding.

There’s also plenty of scope for progression, and a competitive but supportive environment across the industry.

The bridging sector is embracing tech and modernising in terms of hybrid working practices, as well as working towards a more diverse and inclusive working environment.

There’s lots of positive reasons for school leavers, graduates and older career movers to look to the bridging sector. And it’s down to all businesses in the industry to make it as appealing as possible.

What’s available?

There’s a vast range of job roles in the bridging sector for those with no previous experience in the sector, as well as specialist appointments and leadership positions.

In many ways, working for a bridging lender is very similar to working in another type of lending organisation. We have all of the transactional roles such as BDMs, sales support roles, processing positions, underwriters and completions teams, as well as servicing and recoveries roles.

Of course, we also need a support infrastructure, with positions in finance and treasury, marketing and digital, IT and change – the roles that are required to enable any business to function effectively.

And it’s not just lenders. There are many positions within third-party distributors, surveying services and, of course, brokers.

Flexibility and opportunity

Even though bridging finance roles are similar to other lending organisations, there are key differences.

For example, when someone comes into this sector, their pathway often isn’t as clearly defined as it can be in larger retail banks. I’ve seen many people start in one area, such as processing, and end up as a senior underwriter or doing a completely different role. It’s especially true in smaller lending organisations where there’s often lots of flexibility to develop across different areas of the business.

You don’t necessarily need a defined career pathway if you’re ambitious; in the right company you will grow and develop quickly.

There’s also a lot more flexibility about what we are looking for compared to mainstream lenders.

I used to work at a retail bank and, when I was recruiting, we needed the candidate to fulfil certain criteria. But now I’m not always looking for what the person has done in the past; I’m looking at where they can be in the future.

Sometimes I look for transferable skills but, really, I’m interested in whether or not that person can think flexibility and commercially. Having an appetite and will to do well is more important that direct experience.

Attracting young people

This can be a great sector for young people but businesses operating in this market have to make themselves more attractive.

They need clear people development strategies, a strategy on diversity and inclusion, ESG goals, fair and benchmarked pay structures, career progression plans and flexible working conditions, including being open to hybrid working.

If you want to attract talent to your business, you need to make sure you build a great place to work.

Every firm will have their own approach to working practices as we come out of the pandemic, and it needs to be right for them. At Roma Finance we initially came back to the office when things opened up, but we’ve recently embraced hybrid working to give our colleagues more flexibility.

You’ve got to find what fits with your culture and ensure that your outcomes aren’t affected whatever way you decide to work.

Attracting new people to the industry is important but retaining talent is essential too, and that’s where a good people strategy comes in. Of course, the days of someone starting in a business and staying for 30 years has gone, so you do see movement across lenders and other parts of the industry, which can also be a good thing.

How can someone get into this industry?

There are different avenues and the most obvious is standard recruitment. Most businesses in bridging finance will advertise for positions and use recruitment agencies.

Of course, there are plenty of entry level positions for those straight out of school. Some of the best people in this industry have grown organically from an entry level role so they understand the business inside out, as they’ve often worked across many different parts of it.

Some lenders, including Roma, embrace graduate schemes and one of our senior underwriters joined us straight from university. Apprenticeships can also be a great option for those who don’t want to go into further education.

Collaboration is key

Bridging can be a fulfilling and rewarding career, but it relies on businesses in the sector to get our people strategy right.

We need to collaborate and learn from each other and from working practices outside of our industry in order to keep improving.

Keep looking at the firms that are hitting the mark, be curious about improving working practices and passionate about developing your people and you will attract and retain amazing colleagues.