‘People should always be the focus of every business’
By Tony Sanchez
In our latest Five Minute Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Andy Alvarez, Experienced Head of Intermediary leader and ED&I expert.
Andy has worked in financial services for over 23 years across various different roles- from telesales and post completion customer service, all the way to senior strategic leadership positions.
Andy says “leading people has always been the best part of all the jobs I’ve undertaken- I’ve found it so rewarding to help develop people and see them flourish and that motivates me in itself.”
Andy is very happily married with 4 gorgeous children and 2 dogs. Outside of his ‘contracted roles’ he also has a passion for equality diversity and inclusion.
Andy supports numerous initiatives, but his biggest one at the moment is the Non-Executive directorship he has for the FA in a pure ED&I focused role. This along with work and family keeps him really busy!
What is the best thing about being in the mortgage business?
I know this will sound really cheesy- but I have to say it’s the people.
Most of the people I have worked with or met throughout my career have been some of the most generous, kind hearted hardworking people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.
There are always people that genuinely want to help, regardless if you don’t even know them that well.
I also find the industry very innovative and forward thinking. They are always looking to find ways to help their customers and make life that little bit more easier and stress free.
What keeps you focused?
Just kidding (although it does help massively!). For me, one of my key drivers is fear- which seems such an odd driver!
The fear of not being able to provide a better life for my kids than I did when I was growing up.
I want them to have opportunities and at the same time grow up as people that value kindness, look at differences as positives and have the strength to make their own decisions without being led down the wrong paths.
At Work- it has to be the wellbeing of my team. The teams I have had the pleasure in leading over the many years of senior leadership have always performed exceptionally well- that isn’t just down to the coaching and development I have given them, but because they feel valued as individuals.
I believe work and personal life are very much linked together. If you create a culture and environment where people feel they matter, they’re important, they’re invested in- this leaks into their homelife.
Their homelife becomes richer, this then leaks back into work- where they want to perform. The better they perform, the better they feel. And this cycle goes on.
I think many businesses out there lose sight of this- that’s why you get high turnover of staff, old school management, high short term absences etc…
People should always be the focus of every business.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
In terms of my team:
Trust is always the first thing in any relationship that you need to solidify.
Try your best and shout for help when you need it (as it’s also my job to support you to be successful!).
Treat one another well and support eachother. Don’t be lazy, or try and get away with things. If you have a problem with something, come to me and we can work things out together.
In terms of colleagues:
Pretty much the same. I like people I can trust. I don’t do well with people that have a high level of self interest or a ‘look at me’ attitude.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Definitely an optimist. I look at failure as an opportunity to reset and always try to pull the positives out of every situation.
I’ve always been someone that people call when they just need to chat as I’m good at putting things into perspective.
What did you want to be as a child?
To be honest, I didn’t really have aspirations of WHAT I wanted to be, but I always knew what I wanted to achieve.
Which isn’t as glamorous as some people’s plans. What I wanted to achieve was based on the things I probably didn’t have as a child- safe environment for my kids, happy marriage, nice house etc.
I’m glad to say I’ve successfully achieved these. However, like everything- just because you have it doesn’t mean you stop working hard at it.
What will be the greatest challenge facing the industry in the coming months?
Stability of interest rates, cost of living- these are all issues that I think everyone would put at the top of their list.
I’d also add in – Recruitment. Many lenders have paused recruitment. Which is understandable.
However, the flipside to this is that they will be faced with a situation that could mean it’s harder to attract and recruit the best people for the roles they have available because everyone else will be doing the same thing at the same time.
Recruiting talent should be at the top of the agenda because these are usually the people that can get you through the more challenging times.
And once the challenging times have passed (as it will do, although it doesn’t always feel like it at the time!), having the right people there to accelerate growth will pay dividends.
I would also add in – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies.
The industry (like many other industries) are split into 3 camps – ones who understand, value and are committed to ED&I, Ones who don’t understand it and don’t want to say and those that think it’s a load of nonsense.
The danger that those that don’t understand it or don’t believe in it will face – is that they will fail to attract or lose top talent, they will not grow or fail to adapt because they are lacking new ideas and they are stuck in the dark ages doing the same things they have always done.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Everything- I love to laugh. It could be the most stupid thing ie a really bad dad joke to quick fired banter.
The important thing is to laugh. Life can be too serious sometimes!
Do you dread Monday mornings?
No. I never dread any morning. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things you think you would rather not be doing- but the quicker you get your head down and power through it then the quicker it will be over.
I try not to overthink things and enjoy the moment I’m in.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing. Just joking! Only 1??
I would say that I can be guilty of over thinking things- which is contradictory as I’m good at putting things into perspective for others.. but like a typical guy, I tend not to talk about my feelings which isn’t good at all for anyone’s mental health.
However, it is something I’m conscious of and trying to get better at!
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
Might sound strange, but my younger self. I’d go back to this young lad who felt he was on his own, growing up in a rough part of London, on the streets from a messed up home and just say to him- ‘it will be ok mate.
Things will work themselves out for the better, you’ve got this.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, I’m taking time out to look for the right opportunity.
It’s important that wherever I end up that it’s with a business that has the right culture and ethics as well as the opportunity to be there long term. I’m not looking for a short term fix.
It will all depend on what opportunities arise as I’m fortunate due to my skills and experiences that I have a broad depth and breadth of skills and knowledge. Bridging has always been an area I have found interesting.
Aside from that, if good consultancy opportunities come up in either ED&I (ie developing and executing a strategy) or in mortgage distribution I would also welcome that as an option.
As long as I stay working in this fantastic industry with the fantastic people, I will be more than content.