How I became a broker – Paul Turner's story

Brokerage owner recounts his 'long and winding road' journey in the industry

How I became a broker – Paul Turner's story

“My path in the mortgage industry can easily be described as that ‘long and winding road’ which The Beatles so eloquently sang about back in 1970 – way before I started out on that path,” said Paul Turner (pictured), owner of East Cheshire Mortgages.

In 2000, after nearly 10 years of being employed in financial services, Turner finally took the daunting step to self-employment and being a master of his own destiny.

“Back in those days, of course pre-regulation, things were very different,” he recalled. “But over the years, it has ‘morphed’ into what we see today: a highly regulated industry which in truth is probably where it needs to be.”

Getting into the industry

Turner started working for Royal London back in 1991 as an insurance man – a title that had grown through the decades with a very diverse range of clients, knocking on doors, collecting premiums, understanding their needs, and providing solutions.

“It was a good grounding,” he said. “I thrived on the ‘client/advisor’ contact, and it was here that I built, probably sub-consciously, the foundations and client base on which I’ve built my business ever since,” he said.

“It was Royal London who got us through the old FPC qualifications, which I seized with both hands with CeMap coming later on in 2005. Over the years, Royal London became Allied Dunbar and then became Colonial FS, and once that closed down back in 2000, East Cheshire Mortgages was formed. It was quite a learning curve!”

Turner felt comfortable with the complexities of the mortgage market, and enjoyed speaking to people, getting to know them, and finding solutions that helped them meet their goals.

“It was during this time that I realised the power of a mortgage – it was not just a financial product, but a tool that could help people achieve their dreams of home ownership,” he explained.

Rebranding to East Cheshire Mortgages and moving office during the financial crisis of 2007/2008 was a daunting decision, but one that Turner felt was right.

“The new office placed us on ‘Estate Agent Row’, so we began to benefit from walk-ins as well as estate agent referrals,” he said. “I believed in our ability to provide exceptional face-to-face service to our clients, and this is exactly what set us apart from the much larger corporate clubs. Our clients trust us, and this has been a cornerstone of our business right up to the present day.”

For Turner, it has been a rewarding journey ever since. Today, his brokerage has a team of three, with associates Robert Sharpe and Jack Ward, having joined him in 2006 and 2010, respectively.

Motivation to continue as a broker

With 33 years of experience in financial services, Turner has been through the highs and lows of the industry – he has seen the market boom and bust several times, navigated the complexities of regulatory changes, and adapted to the evolving needs of clients.

“It has been tough at times, and it’ll continue to be challenging going forward,” he said. “However, with a clear focus, solid client base and building trust, I am confident that we will meet those challenges and get through whatever this industry throws at us.

“It’s all about the client, understanding their needs, and helping them develop solutions. Getting them to where they want to be keeps me going, even on tough days. To see the smiles and get the ‘thanks’ when it’s all done is well worth the efforts.”

Turner admitted that sometimes it’s not that easy, and sometimes things just don’t pan out as needed.

“Having honest conversations about the reality of their situation, especially in today’s market is not always easy, but it is necessary,” he stressed. “Transparency and honesty, in making sure our clients are fully aware of their options and the potential challenges they may face, leads to trust.

“Even if it can’t be achieved today, giving the client the insight and the direction to work towards a solution in say six months is what we thrive on – good honest advice whether we secure the business now or in six months’ time.”

Looking to the future

With the ever changing regulatory landscape, Turner said he wants to create a company culture that really values and prioritises clients, their wants, and their needs.

“Having been doing this for over 20 years, we are now seeing the next generation of families who are starting to purchase their first homes, which is a true compliment to the way we have conducted our business over the years,” he said.

“Without making a sweeping statement, there can always be a temptation to focus on quick, transactional business. However, we see ourselves as a brokerage who can provide ongoing support, believing that the role of a mortgage adviser does not end once the mortgage is secured. We place huge emphasis on being there for the client after the event as well, providing advice and support as their needs and circumstances change through the years.”

Turner told Mortgage Introducer that, at this point, they have a good business plan without any further plans for expansion.

“In a very dynamic environment, we adapt, change and develop strategies, but that is what makes for a successful business,” he said. “We are prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead, and we are committed to providing the best service to our clients, no matter what.

“As a thriving business, East Cheshire Mortgages is committed to serving our clients with the dedication and expertise they have come to expect from us. For without this, where would we be? May this long continue.”

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