‘The power of women supporting and lifting each other up is endless’
By Tony Sanchez -
In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Claire Newman, Head of Bridging at Spring Finance.
Claire has worked in the specialist lending industry for the past 12 years and spent 10 of those years at Masthaven.
Claire joined Spring Finance in September last year to build a new bridging division which launched to a select number of brokers at the end of March.
She will be working through the pilot to a wider market launch in the coming months and will be building a development finance product later in the year.
Outside work Claire has two young daughters who keep her busy with school, homework, ballet and various clubs.
She loves to read, cook and took up running during lockdown which helps keep her sane.
What brought you into financial services?
I had an interest in property from an early age and completed a placement year while at university with a property investment company headed up by Andrew Bloom.
After finishing university and spending several years working as a development co-ordinator in an off-plan property investment company, Andrew offered me a role at Masthaven where I trained as a bridging underwriter and haven’t looked back.
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?
I think to be a successful leader, regardless of whether you are male or female, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and help out when needed.
You have to work as part of a team and understand the people you work alongside and what makes them tick.
If you really invest in the people you work with it leads to a much more enjoyable working experience and everyone is more productive.
What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
I have been fortunate that I haven’t had many barriers in my career. I joined a company that recognised hard work and rewarded it.
The only thing that has ever held me back is myself and often thinking I haven’t been able to do something where others have known I can.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
You’re only human, you can’t do it all and the only person who will suffer if you try, is you.
What’s your own personal mantra?
Life isn’t plain sailing and there will be challenging and difficult times. Lean in to them and see them as an opportunity to grow and learn as they are all leading you to become the best version of yourself.
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
If anyone knows the answer to this then please tell me as I’m still trying to find it! I don’t believe it is possible to have it all, it’s always a juggle.
I do think it’s important to carve out time for yourself as having even a short amount of time each day doing something that brings you joy makes everything that little bit easier to deal with.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
If you have to deliver bad news or give someone some negative feedback, do it quickly and honestly. Delaying or sugar coating it will only make it worse for the other person and for you.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Believe in yourself and your ability. We are taught from an early age that being confident, powerful and self-assured are typically male characteristics but that doesn’t mean that women can’t have these same traits.
I read a study that found that men will apply for a role if they have 60% of the required qualifications. Conversely, women will only apply if they meet 100% of the requirements.
A lot of women want everything to be perfect from the outset which holds them back. If you believe in yourself and are willing to step out of your comfort zone, risk making mistakes which you then learn from then you can’t go wrong.
What do you think is holding women back?
I think women hold themselves back a little in not having confidence in their own abilities.
Also perhaps in thinking that women are always in competition with each other which most of the time isn’t the case. The power of women supporting and lifting each other up is endless.
Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?
In some companies I’m sure there is but this is changing and it is up to everyone to make sure this change continues and that companies encourage a diverse workforce and support anyone who has the drive and ambition to succeed.
What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter?
I think it’s a great initiative and has helped raise awareness of the gender imbalance in the finance industry.
But the underlying message is about equality and attracting people from a diverse base in terms of gender, race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
There have been huge improvements made but the key is to ensuring this continues to improve.
How do we encourage more women into financial services?
There are more women in leadership positions which hopefully helps encourage other women to believe in their own potential.
I think it’s important to attract anyone who has talent in to the industry, in whatever form that takes.
The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?
Companies need to recognise hard work and achievement and reward people for that. If someone does well they should be paid accordingly and their gender shouldn’t even be a part of the equation.
It’s a sad fact if there are companies in our industry that do anything other than that.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Starting a bridging finance division at Spring. It’s early days in our pilot launch but the feedback so far has been good and I’m extremely proud of the hard work of myself and the whole team in getting us to this point.
I’m excited to see where our continued hard work takes us.