‘Resilience, positivity and having an open mind’
By Tony Sanchez -
In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Faith Ndebele, Underwriter at TAB.
Having previously worked as a banking consultant for a high street bank and at an alternative bridging company, Faith joined TAB in January 2022 as an underwriter.
Her role at TAB involves underwriting new loan applications in line with TAB’s lending policies, liaising with brokers, solicitors and surveyors to research and gather all the information required to undertake due diligence, ensuring high quality service levels throughout the process and conducting the correct risk assessment for each case.
What brought you into the financial industry?
I’ve always been interested in finance. Since a young age I’ve always been really strong with numbers, maths was always my best subject at school and it led me to study accounting and finance at university, which kick started my journey into the financial industry.
Did you always plan to pursue a career in finance?
When I was younger I only envisioned myself in two careers, becoming a footballer or going into finance!
As I said earlier, I was always good with numbers and it led me to wanting to pursue this career.
How did you get into underwriting?
When I started in property finance, I started in the sales team. I learnt that most members of the sales team don’t have a full understanding of the legal requirements and process that goes on around a deal, because of that deals were being pushed through without much understanding .
I started getting into underwriting to get a better understanding of the legal process and requirements and get more in depth knowledge of property and developments as it requires you to read the valuation reports.
Working in sales and underwriting has given me a broad understanding of the whole deal process and now I have a good idea on what a quality deal looks like when it comes across my desk.
Do you enjoy the industry you work in? Have you faced any difficulties or barriers to entry?
Yes, I do enjoy working in the bridging lending industry, everyday is different as I’m working on different deals everyday.
I’m really happy and feel supported in the team I work in.
Recent statistics show that in the financial sector, women making up 43% of the workforce, (2019) from your own experiences do you think that there’s more equality today in the financial industry for women or is there still more work to be done?
Seeing statistics like that is really encouraging but I think more work still needs to be done.
Finance and specifically sales departments are still very male dominant, more opportunities could be given to women to take up positions to better the representation and equality.
Do you think women are still hesitant to get into finance? Maybe because of stereotypes…etc
I think it’s 50/50. The younger generation are very passionate about striving for equality and don’t hesitate to get into finance.
I think for the older generations, many are still stuck in their ways. The younger generation is pushing to change the status quo, which should help the percentage go up and allow women to take more senior management positions in the future.
What do you think could be improved/changed to encourage more women to get involved in the finance industry?
One major change could be flexibility. As we know women statistically take up more responsibility in raising children, school runs etc.
Understanding that women have other important commitments such as home and child life and providing flexible working conditions would allow women to still focus on their careers and not feel held back.
For example, flexible finishing times or working from home options when necessary would only aid more women in getting into this industry.
As a black woman, do you think you face more barriers to working in an industry that predominantly white males – especially when going for senior management positions?
Honestly I’m still quite young in the industry, maybe in the future I may face barriers when striving for senior positions, from my time at TAB I’ve always been encouraged and never felt held back taking on more responsibility.
So far in my career I haven’t faced many barriers to get to where I am now.
Do you think you work in a diverse team at TAB?
Yes, I really enjoy working in a diverse environment like there is at TAB.
I think it helps with the working atmosphere when there’s more people you can relate to and you have the chance to learn about new backgrounds and cultures which is always interesting.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to enter the industry today?
My advice would be to specialise. Finance is an incredibly broad industry and it’s very useful to pick a specific area to focus on, develop your skills and excel in it.
What do you love most about your job?
Being an underwriter, you need to be very meticulous and have a keen eye for details.
I really enjoy having to be constantly alert, picking up on small things in paperwork or on a deal that wouldn’t normally be seen – I enjoy that challenge.
What do you think makes a successful leader? Do you have any leaders in mind you take inspiration from?
Michelle Obama is a huge inspiration for me. I really like her style and how she presents herself.
I think she’s a massive role model in breaking boundaries in industries where you can be historically underrepresented.
To be a successful leader, especially if you’re a woman you’ll need resilience, positivity and having an open mind.
Honestly, I struggle to think of many women leaders which shows how few there are, especially in the financial industry.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
Pursue what you want to do and what you’re passionate about and not what other people want for you.
Some people still face pressure from their parents to pursue a career that they may not be passionate about .
I think it’s important to pursue the career you enjoy. For me I always loved numbers so underwriting just added up!