Submitted by Christina Neal
We’ve had the opportunity of featuring Monica Bradley to talk about award winning mortgage broker company MB Associates, her role as a mortgage adviser as well as her entrepreneurial journey.
What led you to become an entrepreneur?
I started my own company 20 years ago, but I have been self-employed since I was in my early twenties, over 30 years ago now. I have always had an interest in finance and people – so when you put the two together, the financial services industry is the perfect place to be! I have always felt confident with numbers and finance, and I was always keen to work for myself and be my own boss one day. I never liked the idea of having a boss tell me what time I could go for lunch or when I could leave the office, so I made it my business to learn as much about the financial sector as possible so that I could work for myself. I went self-employed from the age of 22 working for Legal & General on a self-employed basis, and that was the start of me building a client base.
Tell us about MB Associates as well as your role as a mortgage adviser.
I am the founder and Managing Director of MB Associates, an award-winning mortgage broker based in Cheam, Surrey. As the MD, my role is to manage and motivate my team of mortgage advisers, case managers and admin staff, and make sure they are fulfilled and happy in their roles. However, I also still work as a mortgage adviser as I have a longstanding client base and my regular clients often come back to me time and time again for mortgage and financial protection advice. I often end up helping three generations of families as parents recommend me to their grown-up children or sometimes even their own parents for later life borrowing advice. In addition to managing a team and writing mortgages, I am also responsible for defining the growth and future direction of the company. I try to work on the business and not just in it so that the company can continue to grow and prosper.
What does being a female entrepreneur mean to you?
I have a strong work ethic and still really enjoy what I do, even after all these years. I’m still hungry for more success and passionate about my business. I love making a difference in people’s lives and I’m a firm believer that my clients should pay the lowest amount of interest on their mortgage, for the lifetime of their mortgage – not just for the next two years. I always strive to get them the most competitive rate as this can save them thousands of pounds in the long term. As for the work/life balance, I do work long hours but I enjoy what I do which makes a huge difference to what I can accomplish. I exercise first thing in the morning every day before work… I’ll usually do some strength training at home or in my local gym. I find that exercise helps to clear my head and keep my mindset positive. I also enjoy socialising and like a lot of people, have really missed social interaction over the last year and now welcome it back. My partner Rob and I enjoy hosting dinner parties, meeting friends for drinks and generally being around other people. I also enjoy travel. I try to make sure I have trips to look forward to and keeping fit also aids my energy levels and makes me more productive at work.
What challenges or obstacles have you faced as a result of being an entrepreneur?
I can honestly say that being a female hasn’t held me back at all, but I’ve faced the usual challenges that many business owners face, such as juggling the challenges of running a business with the inclination to grow a business and do so at the right pace. Last year was a challenging time due to the pandemic; we had some clients concerned about losing their jobs and missing mortgage payments so we were fielding all sort of enquiries from worried customers. We needed to ensure we were there to offer them advice and support and as you can imagine, our phones were very busy. We made a point of communicating more frequently with our clients by sending out regular newsletter updates on the property market and reassuring clients we were there for them anytime they needed some friendly advice.
As with many other businesses, my team had to adjust to working from home without any time to prepare for it and cope with the challenges of childcare in many cases. It was a test for us as much as everyone else, but we pulled together as a team and thrived.
What has been your success story so far?
Winning awards has been extremely rewarding as it’s wonderful to be acknowledged for the work you do and know that it’s been recognised. I also opened up a second office for the business four years ago after recruiting more mortgage advisers. Being able to see how far the business had come was a good feeling. In the last year, we have grown tremendously too, taking on an additional six members of staff, three of whom are young apprentices learning the mortgage business.
Which other business entrepreneur would you recommend?
I would gladly recommend Lisa Fowler, owner and founder of Henley Homes Estate Agency, also based in Surrey. Lisa is an experienced estate agent who set up her own company in a very competitive market two years ago. Her business has been a big success, largely because Lisa works extremely hard and also offers a bespoke service for her clients. I think if you serve your clients really well you’ll always reap the rewards in the long run.
What tips or advice would you give to any female considering becoming an entrepreneur?
1. Learn as much as you can about the industry you intend to work in. Shadow others who are doing well, ask them questions, learn from them, notice what they are doing and why it is effective.
2. Be prepared to work very hard but work smart as well. Sit down and work out what your priorities are for the business and have a very clear direction for the future. A business coach or mentor may be a good person to bounce ideas off and help you find clarity.
3. Review your goals and objectives every three months to make sure you’re on track and don’t be afraid to adapt your plan if need be.
4. Surround yourself with positive people. The saying, ‘you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with’ is hugely important. If you’re around positive people you’ll feel inspired. It works the other way too, so try to avoid any office politics and drama and just focus on being the best at what you do.
5. Invest in yourself. Keep learning. The more you increase your skills and knowledge, the more valuable you are to clients. Remember you get paid for the value you bring to the marketplace.
6. Think about what your business can offer that sets you apart from your competitors. What makes you unique?
7. Provide outstanding customer service. It’s that simple. You’ll get recommendations and referrals that will keep you busy and save you money on expensive advertising campaigns! MB Associates receives many recommendations and this remains the most powerful way for us to grow our business.
Special and exclusive offer to Untapped FR community
We will gladly offer a free mortgage consultation for any of your members to look at their personal situation and advise on getting a mortgage, or whether they could re-mortgage and save money. This would normally be worth £500 and will be with either myself or one of my experienced mortgage advisers. No obligation for them to proceed with anything.
For advice on mortgages and financial protection, get in touch with Monica Bradley on 020 8652 5240, email her at [email protected] or visit the website at https://www.mbassociates.net/