‘People joke about working in pyjamas, that wouldn’t work for me’
By Laura Miller -
Routine is how many of us get through the working week, how we manage demands, mark time. As a species we’re typically not good with uncertainty, apparently because it registers in the brain as an error, one which needs to be fixed before we can move on. But some people thrive on change. One of them is Emma Roberts, relationship manager at Connect for Intermediaries.
“I have been in this kind of role for years and it’s a role with no set routine, one day you can be at home, the next you might have a three-hour commute to a meeting, I live for that,” she says, when asked what she loves most about her job. Used to variety, working from home for months over lockdown has left her starving for the spontaneity that drew her to the job in the first place. “I now find myself in a complete routine every day.”
Luckily for Roberts, the thirst for something new everyday has so far been quenched by the fact she only joined Connect of Intermediaries last June, so has had a lot to absorb. She is far from green though; since graduating from the University of Central Lancashire in 2006 with a degree in Business Management and a little travelling after, she has gained just over 10 years’ experience in the finance industry, having got into bridging “completely by chance”. At the time she wasn’t even in finance. “I was speaking to a headhunter about a different type of industry altogether when a BDM role came up at Fluent Money,” she says of the Bolton-based packager based near Bolton.
From her first interview, she was hooked. “It was the best decision I have ever made because working at Fluent was the start of an incredible journey for me in the specialist finance industry,” she says. Bridging being a small world meant it didn’t take much of a quirk of fate for Roberts to get to know Liz Syms, the CEO of Connect, while in that first role. Roberts impressed her so much, she was keen to lure her away asap. “We kept in touch over the years and when this opportunity came up in the North, I was delighted. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I have been fortunate with my journey in this industry,” Roberts says.
Loungewear and leggings sales spiked by 1,303% in 2020, according to data from department store John Lewis, as Britain ditched the ties and jackets for anything that was comfy enough to work from the sofa. But not for Roberts, who has taken a more “regimented” approach to working from. “For a start I make sure I get up early every day” she says – though she is very much kept on track in that respect by her 2-year-old, who likes to start the day at 5am – “and I make sure I am prepared for the day ahead. People joke about working in pyjamas, but that wouldn’t work for me”.
There are some advantages to remote working, she admits, from the washing always being done to the absence of “on the road” lunches, which she has swapped for fish finger sandwiches in her own kitchen, though it’s personal preference as to whether that is better or worse. The main challenge is missing her clients and peers. “I am sure I am not alone in feeling I can’t wait to move back towards normality,” she says, “to see my brokers face to face, to see colleagues and peers at industry events and to be back in smart business attire more regularly”.
Applicants from fairly diverse experiences find their way into the broad church of bridging (Roberts started as a BDM so because she didn’t deal with the end client her degree and existing sales background was enough to secure her first role). For those looking to enter, she says mindset wins over experience or qualifications. “There is always room for people who are not only good at what they do, but have the right attitude and drive,” she says. “I think if someone really wants to enter this industry they should persist until they get to where they want to be, then strive to be the best at what they do.”
Talking of varied tastes in the property sector, Roberts is a strong believer in buiIding things to her own personal spec. “I have just made my own Christmas wreaths and garlands in a candy cane theme. I am very much a Christmas enthusiast so getting creative makes me feel even more festive!” With December 25th six months away it’s possible she’s even more keen beans than Santa Claus.
Laura Miller is a freelance journalist who writes about money and business. She regularly appears in UK national and trade newspapers and magazines, and has previously worked for ITV News and the Telegraph among others. Find her on twitter @thatlaurawrites