How I became a broker – Stephen Kerr's story

He started out in health clubs and bars

How I became a broker – Stephen Kerr's story

The journey of Stephen Kerr (pictured) – from working in bars and health clubs to becoming a successful mortgage broker and director of Kerr & Watson – is a story of dedication. His proactive approach to obtaining qualifications and commitment to providing value to clients have been key to his success.

Getting into the industry

Kerr’s early career was far from the financial services industry. Until the age of 24, he worked in bars and health clubs, jobs that he felt offered little in terms of long-term career prospects.

However, his interest in investments and property sparked the realization that becoming a mortgage broker could provide a gateway into financial services, with the potential to eventually advise on investments.

Recognising the importance of qualifications in securing a serious role, Kerr completed the Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP).

“With no background in the mortgage industry or anything too relevant on my CV, I realised I would be taken a lot more seriously if I was able to complete CeMAP off my own back rather than asking a prospective employer to put me through it,” he explained. This proactive approach paid off, as it set him apart from other candidates.

However, despite his determination, breaking into the industry was no easy feat. Kerr faced several rejections and even offered to work for free to gain experience.

“I even had a meeting with a well-known HNW broker in London and offered to work for them for free for a month on the basis there was a role at the end of it if I impressed them, but they said they could not justify the risk in training me,” he recalled.

Persistence eventually led him to a trainee position with a local company after six months of job hunting. During his decade-long tenure there, Kerr gained extensive knowledge, particularly in handling complex enquiries. His growing interest in buy-to-let and property investing solidified his decision to focus solely on mortgage brokering rather than expanding into investment advising.

Motivation to continue as a broker

Starting Kerr & Watson has definitely added to the motivation as it has given us something to grow, and we’ll do this by ensuring we offer value so people want to work with us,” Kerr said.

He finds satisfaction in helping clients secure homes they love, aiming to make the process as painless as possible.

“The market is huge, as in addition to residential borrowing, there’s commercial, bridging finance, portfolio finance, protection, and others,” he pointed out. “We can continue to scale by developing relationships across various spaces and get ourselves more known.

“The scope of the market and knowing that our success will be based on what we do daily is what motivates me the most.”

Looking to the future

Looking ahead, Kerr’s primary goal is to continue scaling Kerr & Watson. Since its inception 18 months ago, the firm has doubled in size from two to four team members.

While the growth has been measured, Kerr emphasised the importance of bringing in new people only when necessary.

“It feels good to now have more people involved and create jobs for them that are in line with their future goals, so they can share the success of the business too,” he said.

In the next 12 months, Kerr & Watson plans to strengthen relationships with introducers and consistently meet their expectations, fostering organic growth and necessitating the addition of new team members. Kerr also has his sights set on industry recognition.

“We have been nominated for a few industry awards so bagging another at some point is also an aim,” he said.

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