‘Be true to yourself and know your worth’


Karen Rodrigues Market Financial Solutions wif

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Karen Rodrigues, Head of National Accounts at Market Financial Solutions.

Karen has over 20 years’ experience in the mortgage intermediary sector. Karen joined MFS recently having previously been director of sales at Smoove – eConveyancer.

Prior to this, Karen worked for Vida Homeloans, where she was a corporate sales manager for almost 4 years.

Karen has also worked for One Savings Bank, where she was a national account manager working on both the Kent Reliance and Prestige Finance brands. She also held positions at Aldermore Mortgages, GE Money, and Kensington.

She started her career in financial services with Halifax and has worked closely with mortgage intermediaries ever since, building a deep understanding of the relationship and service requirements of networks, clubs, packagers, and brokers alike.

Karen has considerable experience from her time in the intermediary sector, which she utilises to push MFS to new heights.

What brought you into financial services?

Like a lot of people in financial services – I fell into it. My aunt used to work for Halifax Building Society, (yes that was only yesterday!) and she always appeared to enjoy what she did. So when she suggested I apply for a temporary position, I was happy to!

I aced my interview, and started off as a cashier on a temporary contract. My assistant branch manager turned out to be my aunt’s old branch manager, so he took me under his wing.

It wasn’t long before I had a permanent contract, got promoted, and eventually ended up on the management trainee programme.

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

First and foremost, for me it is communication skills – whether that be verbal or visual – body language has a large role to play in how I communicate.

Actively listening to what you are being told – again whether this is verbal communication or non-verbal.

You need to take on board the messages being delivered, and adapt to them when needed.

Empathy is important to me – to fully understand how others may feel, and use that insight to motivate them to achieve a common goal.

For me, women leaders often have to work twice as hard to get to where they need to be. As such, I want to be there to support the next generation however possible.

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

I was overlooked for a promotion in the past because I was expecting my first son and was potentially going to be out of the business for a given period.

I am so pleased we’ve seen changes here – shared parental leave etc.

This was a challenging period for me. But it gave me the determination to keep driving forward.

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

Be true to yourself and know your worth.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Carpe Diem!

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

Being organised! Prepare for tomorrow tonight.

With 2 teenagers of my own, making sure everything is ready to go the night before is always fun – lunch, PE kits, books, fuel in the car!

Thank heavens for Sat Nav, I’m not sure I could do all this with the A to Z’s!

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

Taking care of your team – if you look after your team, they in turn look after themselves. Everyone benefits as a result!

More often than not, they’re at the coal face, so ideas and suggestions coming from them are worth listening to.

You also need to lead by example – I’ve never asked a member of my team to do something that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing myself.

It’s never a bad idea to offer help and support where needed too.

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

Work hard, reach out for support, seek out mentorship. Focus on who you aspire to be, and remain true to yourself.

What do you think is holding women back?

Hesitancy in asking for assistance. Often, we don’t do this because it can be seen as a weakness.

It’s actually the exact opposite of this, and we need to break down these psychological barriers we put in place.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Yes & no. In certain sectors of the industry, however, we’re seeing positive changes.

Ladies will support each other more now I feel. I also feel we have a more inclusive, supportive industry now than we did even just a few years ago.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

As an industry we have come a long way. But there is still room for improvement and the charter definitely addresses some of the issues, rather than brushing them under the carpet which was done in the past.

It’s worth bringing some of the taboo subjects to the forefront.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

For me, this must start at school – the more education we can do to demystify the finance world the better.

To remove the stigma that finance is boring and all about spreadsheets – we need to show that its fun, has a real problem solving ethos, and provides a real sense of achievement.

Getting people into their first home, for example, is a pure joy.

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

Businesses can advertise salaries when roles become available. You can also anonymise CV’s when referring on to higher managers.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Gosh where do I start…

Personally, I consider being married for 22 years my biggest achievement, and having 2 fabulous boys who make me proud daily – while also driving me crazy too!

Also, passing my Irish Dancing teachers exams – if you know you know!

Professionally, winning the SFI award 2022 for service to the industry – I like to get things done for the greater good – and fly under the radar.

Also, I was proud to be recognised as an Elite Women for the second year running.