The Growth Series

New year, new outlook: part two

Earlier in the month, we shared part one of this article in which we asked several industry experts to reflect on 2020. In part two, we are joined by another round of leaders who have each brought a unique perspective. 

As with the previous instalment, we asked that they give consideration to what they learned from 2020 and what they are most looking forward to in 2021.  


David Hollingworth, (Associate Director - Communications, L&C Mortgages)

What I have learned in 2020?

“I’m sure that many of us will have had a lot of ups and downs this year, but I think that times like this can serve to remind you how lucky you are. Having family and friends around you (at the appropriate distance!) and your own home and space is what you rely on to give a solid foundation, making it easier to deal with difficult situations. Sadly, not everyone has had that luxury.

We’ve always known how quickly the market can evolve and develop but this also underlines how well you can adapt as an individual to new circumstances.”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

“As a friend of mine said to me, ‘in a year of unprecedented times, I’m really quite looking forward to some precedented times!’ 

The success of vaccines and a route to normality aside, I think an ability to travel and mostly the chance to socialise with friends and colleagues will be high on the list. As good as Zoom is, and it will no doubt be here to stay, a meeting over a coffee could be quite a novelty!”

Jack Scarff, (Senior Mortgage and Protection Consultant, The Mortgage Broker)

What I have learned in 2020?

“In relation to what I have learned most in 2020, it’s that, as long as you are adding value and truly standing out from the crowd because you live and breathe mortgages, there will always be clients for you to help. 

In tough times, some brokers with a very restricted amount of lenders will struggle, or brokers who rely solely on one lead source. But, as long as you have access to lots of lenders, truly wish to help the client and are willing to adapt, you will always find clients you can help.”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

“I am most looking forward to growing my new brokerage. 'The Mortgage Mentor' was so busy last year and I am massively oversubscribed with client demand. I needed to start a brokerage where I could train others to deliver the same 5* service and impart the knowledge I have so we can help many more clients.

Am I mad for starting a business during the COVID pandemic? Possibly. But last year was the busiest I have ever had and demand for housing is strong. As is my thirst to grow and help people. That should put us in good stead for 2021!”

Nathan Reilly (Head of Lender Relationships, Twenty7Tec)

What I have learned in 2020?

“As much as I love spending some time at home, and prior to Covid-19 there was nothing better than walking through the front door after a week of being on the road, variety is a key ingredient for working effectively and thinking creatively. 

For me, this also extends beyond just the working environment and a change of scenery.

Whilst a high degree of communication is expected in my role and I’ll spend most days speaking to customers, I’ve realised this doesn’t replace the office ‘water cooler chat’. An unheralded hero within many offices, the ‘water cooler’ is where you get the chance to catch up with co-workers or ask a burning question about something you’ve been working on, and without it, it’s easy to get lost in your day and the 'to do list' which can negatively impact productivity and culture. 

The notion of over-communicating and being social is something Twenty7Tec has worked hard on, and has personally made a big difference to the way I've viewed being at work during lockdown.”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

“I think moving back towards some form of normality is the natural answer, but I say this with an element of caution. Whilst we will hopefully wave goodbye to Covid-19 and be able to catch up with family, friends and colleagues in the near future, I do think there are some learnings, and maybe even positives, from 2020 that we can take forward in 2021. 

As an industry, it has been amazing how lenders, brokers, technology providers and all other parties involved in the supplier chain have supported each other, and I personally look forward to this continuing next year. 

It has also been incredible to see how much can change, and at pace, if we really want it to. This new and refreshing approach is something we should continue to embrace.

Working for a technology business, I’m looking forward to seeing how this makes the process of searching, applying for and obtaining a mortgage simpler, faster and more efficient for everyone involved.”

Jeremy Duncombe (Managing Director, Accord Mortgages)

What I have learned in 2020?

“I’ve learned the power and importance of clear communication and signposting. Despite not seeing my team face to face for nine months, I feel we’re closer than ever because of the amount of communication, sharing of plans and regular catch ups we’ve done. 

This also applies to our brokers, who have reacted brilliantly to this strategy. I’ve also learned that I can make a pork pie, and have started running. (I probably need the second one to counter the first!)”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

"Getting back out on the road and seeing people again. Keeping all the lessons above, but overlaying face to face contact should allow a more efficient and effective hybrid model. I’m also really looking forward to my new role, being able to lead the mortgage distribution for both YBS brands and working with an expanded team of talented colleagues. On a personal level, I can’t wait to be able to hug and spend more time with family… and maybe a couple of ski trips."

Neil Bage (Director of Behavioural Insight, Be-IQ)

What I have learned in 2020?

“That a simple life is what makes me most content. 

When your life has to adapt in a way that means significant change, when you’re forcibly removed from the ‘rat-race’, you get a rare opportunity to reassess what’s really important to you, and what makes you happy, both personally and professionally. 2020 has made me realise that the simplest things in life, which are the least expensive, are actually where the most value, and therefore happiness, is. 

Spending time with family and doing the things I love (hobbies), sitting on a beach with a BBQ and watching the sun set, have meant I’ve reassessed what my future life could look like, and I’ll be ever thankful to the lockdown for giving me that opportunity.”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

“Simplifying my life and getting myself on a path to prolonged happiness. Removing the last remaining remnants of a rat-race led life. 

This means moving house (downsizing - which we’re already doing, having sold our house), and shedding a load of “stuff” that you come to realise, when forced to realise, is exactly that - stuff! And I’m looking forward to finally switching off the hedonic treadmill, and focussing on what’s important.” 

Elliot Kilbride (Environmental Lead – Property (Data, MI and Business Services), Yorkshire Building Society)

What I have learned in 2020?

“I would say 2020 has taught me how I have missed people and those little conversations/networking opportunities in the office go a long way to potentially influencing or creating large projects. The environment is not always seen as a critically important business issue, so meeting face-to-face or just saying hello and introducing myself whilst making a cup of tea goes a long way to influencing other colleagues and the wider agenda.

Lastly, I think 2020 has shown I much prefer coming into the office than working from home. I miss the wider team and speaking to colleagues I would not normally converse with as part of my role. 

As the society’s sole environmental colleague, I have had to be proactive in reaching out to wider groupings, forming relationships and getting a wider group perspective on environmental issues. This has resulted in me forming some very strong and useful relationships. I feel working from home restricts the social and relationship-building aspects of work, which I feel goes a long way to making your job that much more enjoyable.”

What am I looking forward to in 2021?

“I would say that, in 2021, my ultimate aim is to deliver an environmental programme that delivers Real Help with Real Life and to make sure nothing gets in the way of that. 

I have a strong desire to deliver for all of the society’s key stakeholders on the environment as it is a subject that really matters to them. I further look forward to celebrating the society’s strong environmental credentials and having positive critical discussions with the SLT on our future environmental direction and strategy.”


Two themes that stand out in the reflections from this group of industry leaders are the importance of communication and the necessity to understand what you truly value. These experts have showcased a great awareness of both themselves and the industry at large. It will be exciting to see the things that they bring forward into this year!

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