Best women mortgage leaders in the UK |
Elite Women 2023

Best women mortgage leaders driving change and success in the UK

Mortgage Introducer’s Elite Women of 2023 are fostering an industry culture that empowers and encourages other women to thrive by challenging stereotypes and promoting diversity and inclusion. 

The 55 women leaders in mortgage being celebrated are genuine role models who see the big picture, formulate strategies and appreciate how their work impacts and motivates others. 

“With recognition such as Elite Women, the mortgage market has led the way in bringing more women into the industry,” remarks Liz Syms, vice chair of the Society of Mortgage Professionals and CEO of Connect for Intermediaries. “It’s fantastic to see how many more women there are today at events and in advisory rather than administrative roles.” 



Women leaders in mortgage redefining the norm 

Awardee Claire Askham is proud of where she is today after more than 20 years in the mortgage industry, despite the challenges of being in a male-dominated field. 

The head of mortgage sales at the Buckinghamshire Building Society has had to put on her “blinkers” and ignore the intimidation from male colleagues, which she attributes to old-school attitudes that make it challenging for women to succeed. 

“Don’t get me wrong. There are some fantastic males in the industry that are so supportive and want women to do well,” she explains. “It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am, but I am strong, and I know where I want to go.” 

Askham’s nominator for the Elite Woman award describes her as a true leader and all-rounder and notes the following: 

  • “Claire makes time to coach, develop and share her knowledge and experience with her colleagues. She has excelled over the past 12 months by beating targets and driving record results. She champions education as a critical element of her coaching style and is widely recognised as an expert industry spokesperson.” 

Like her fellow awardees, Askham gets the “biggest buzz” from helping her team develop their skills and step up the career ladder, particularly in breaking down gender barriers. 

“I love to see people enjoying what they’re doing and wanting to do well for themselves,” she says. 


Tiba Raja
“Everyone has their strengths. You just need to get those out with encouragement and support”
Tiba RajaMarket Financial Solutions


Female mortgage leaders shine in leadership roles

With 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, awardee Joanne Hollins expresses gratitude to her mentors, managers and colleagues who made it clear that being female would have no bearing on achieving her full potential. 

“I would encourage everyone to seek out mentorship and continually ask questions, as you will never stop learning or developing regardless of what career level you reach,” says Metro Bank’s head of intermediary mortgage distribution. “I have been extremely lucky to have learned from some of the best in the industry, who supported me and encouraged me to learn.” 

Hollins’ three nominators hold her in high esteem and praise her resilience and business acumen: 

  • “The last two years have seen the mortgage market deal with several challenges, but Joanne adapted her leadership skills and identified opportunities that helped Metro Bank become a genuine lender of choice.”

  • “Joanne has often flown beneath the radar, simply prioritising being effective and successful.” 

  • “She has an incredible passion for her job, her people and the mortgage industry.” 

Hollins is a natural planner, and she credits that with helping her develop a clear direction for the teams she leads. 

“I am most proud of the fact that I have helped lead Metro Bank’s intermediary mortgage function as it grows into a formidable national firm with an enviable infrastructure, supported by a talented team that I am immensely proud to have nurtured and grown,” she adds. 



Top women in the mortgage industry are helping others succeed 

Pride resonates with awardee Tiba Raja, who founded specialist finance company Market Financial Solutions with her partner and serves as its executive director. 

With a background in market data analytics and finance, Raja quickly pivoted to taking the reins on strategy, marketing and business development. Her leadership skills have blossomed, and she and her team have helped fuel the company’s exponential growth. 

Her nominator notes that Raja’s passion for helping other women succeed is evident: 

  • “Tiba believes in working alongside others in the industry to provide a united front that pushes for new and innovative approaches to specialist finance.” 

Raja’s vision and unwavering dedication to gender diversity and inclusion can most readily be seen in the fact that nearly half of the company’s employees are women, including those in senior management roles. 

“I am most proud of my staff and the team that we’ve developed and grown over the years,” she remarks. “Everyone has their strengths. You just need to get those out with encouragement and support.” 


Joanne Hollins
“I would encourage everyone to seek out mentorship and continually ask questions, as you will never stop learning or developing regardless of what career level you reach”
Joanne HollinsMetro Bank


Female representation is steadily increasing in the mortgage industry. Still, the awardees and long-time industry experts agree that more work is required for women to reach senior leadership roles. 

“One obstacle is often women’s confidence in their abilities, which is usually unfounded,” notes the Society of Mortgage Professionals’ Syms. 

This year’s trailblazing female leaders in mortgage offer these words of wisdom to women considering or already working in the industry: 

  • Raja: “Focus on your goal and objective, and don’t get disheartened by setbacks; learn from them. Take it on board and then step forward with the learnings and carry on and don’t look back.”

  • Askham: “Engage and approach someone about mentoring you to help give you guidance and a broader perspective. Be confident in your ability; don’t let anybody put you down and know you can do it.”

  • Hollins: “Don’t consider the opportunity; take the opportunity. It is a wonderful industry to work in and offers genuine career prospects for all. I am blessed to work for an amazing company that is fully inclusive, with diversity and inclusion at its core. I think this has permeated the mortgage industry over the last five years, ensuring our industry does provide an opportunity for all.” 


Claire Askham
“It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am, but I am strong, and I know where I want to go”
Claire AskhamBuckinghamshire Building Society



Best women mortgage leaders in the UK | Elite Women 2023

  • Alison Houghton-Corfield
    National Relationship Director
    Master Private Finance
  • Alpa Bhakta
    Chief Executive Officer
    Butterfield Mortgages
  • Amanda Bryden
    Head of Halifax Intermediaries and Scottish Widows Bank
    Lloyds Banking Group
  • Carolyn Thornley-Yates
    Director of Mortgage Proposition and Distribution
    Hinckley & Rugby for Intermediaries
  • Charlotte Grimshaw
    Head of Intermediary Relations and Mortgage Sales
    Suffolk Building Society
  • Claire Smith
    People and Culture Director
    Mortgage Advice Bureau
  • Clare Beardmore
    Director, Mortgage Club
    Legal & General
  • Emma Roberts
    Head of Intermediary Relationships
    Connect for Intermediaries
  • Emma Thomson
    Head of Protection and GI Propositions
    Sesame Bankhall Group
  • Esther Dijkstra
    Managing Director, Intermediaries
    Lloyds Banking Group
  • Francesca Carlesi
    Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
  • Hazel Johnston
    Market Development Manager
    Legal & General
  • Helen Carter
    Head of Channel Engagement
  • Jana Chetraru
    Mortgage Broker
    BTJ Mortgages
  • Jane Simpson
    Managing Director
  • Jo Mezzone
    Business Owner/Mortgage and Protection Specialist
    Whiteoak Mortgages
  • Joanna Streames
    Managing Director
    Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services
  • Julie Gilbert
    1st Mortgage Services
  • Karen Rodrigues
    Director of Sales
  • Karina Hutchins
    Head of Mortgages
  • Kate Cowan
    Chief Financial Officer
    Hope Capital
  • Kate Windsor
    Regional Business Development Manager
  • Kim McGinley
    Managing Director
    VIBE Specialist Finance
  • Krystle Ward
    Mortgage, Protection and Equity Release Adviser
    The Mortgage Mum
  • Louisa Sedgwick
    Commercial Director
    Paragon Banking Group
  • Lynette Webb
    Mortgage Saving Experts
  • Marie Grundy
    Managing Director, Residential Mortgages and Second Charges
    West One Loans
  • Marylen Edwards
    Head of Lending – BTL
    MT Finance
  • Megan Kearney
    Mortgage and Protection Adviser
    Mortgage 1st
  • Melanie Spencer
    Business Development Director and Head of finova Mortgage Services
  • Monica Bradley
    Owner and Managing Director
    MB Associates
  • Natalie Ellis
    Licensed Mortgage Broker
    Mortgage 1st
  • Nicola Richardson
    Chief Financial Officer
    Fleet Mortgages
  • Nicola Firth
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer
    Knowledge Bank
  • Nicola Gauntlett
    Senior Mortgage Specialist
    Plus Financial
  • Nicola Goldie
    Head of National Accounts
    Virgin Money
  • Reetwija Chakraborty
    Head of UK Distribution
    Digilytics AI
  • Riona Mulherin
    Director of Marketing and Operations
  • Roz Cawood
    Director of Sales
    Hope Capital
  • Sabinder Robinson-Sandhu
    Director of Operations
    Avamore Capital
  • Sally Laker
    Managing Director
    Mortgage Intelligence UK
  • Sarah Green
    Retail Director
    Pepper Money
  • Sarah Tucker
    Founder and Managing Director
    The Mortgage Mum
  • Sarah Watts
    Head of Intermediary
  • Suzanne Latimer
    Head of Lifetime Mortgage Servicing
    Pure Retirement
  • Tanya Elmaz
    Director of Intermediary Sales – Commercial Finance
  • Toni Smith
    Chief Operating Officer
    PRIMIS Mortgage Network



As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter expert below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings. 
  • Liz Syms Vice Chair of the Society of Mortgage Professionals
    Chief Executive Officer of Connect for Intermediaries 



Mortgage Introducer invited industry professionals from across the UK to nominate exceptional female role models for the second annual Elite Women list. Nominees had to be working in a role that related to, interacted with, or in some way impacted the industry and should have demonstrated a clear passion for their work. 

Nominators were asked to describe the nominee’s standout professional achievements over the past 12 months, initiatives and innovations, and contributions to the mortgage industry. 

After a thorough review of all the nominations, the Mortgage Introducer team narrowed down the list to the final 55 Elite Women who have made their mark in the industry.