10 Questions With... Lucy Barrett Director of W&B Mortgages

10 Questions With... Lucy Barrett Director of W&B Mortgages





1. How does it feel being a woman in such a male dominated industry?


Well it’s got a lot easier. When I was 18, 19, even 20, it was tough because people found it difficult to take me seriously. Most people would give me a chance though, but even now I do still get the odd person. I’m conscience of being the odd one out sometimes... you notice something... but for the day to day stuff? I wouldn’t say I notice anything different.


2. When did you start working as a packager and where were you before that?


I left college at 17 and started working for PDQ Mortgage Services, a very small brokerage, I worked in their packaging arm.


B&C: You went straight into packaging?


Yes. Basically a friend of mine was working there, her and another girl, when a position came free and I took it – that was where the job opening was – I went straight into packaging and learnt all the specialist products, sub-prime, I did it all backwards really...


B&C: How did W&B come about?


Well it was just the two of us pretty much running the company, so after six months we started thinking about doing it for ourselves, and then six months after that, we set up W&B.


B&C: So how old were you when you set up your own company?


It was in 2004, I was 18...


An awed silence ensues


3. What would you be doing now if you weren’t working in financial services?


I like the thought of something more creative, and I find property really interesting... Oh dear that’s not very exciting is it? Does that make me sound boring?


B&C: No, not at all! What about when you were younger?


When I was little I went through a stage where I really wanted to work with animals, I loved horses. Then, when I was older, I had my heart set on criminology. So at college I studied law and sociology (amongst other subjects), but didn’t really enjoy them. Until then becoming a psychologist and all sorts had crossed my mind.


But instead I kind of fell into mortgages...


4. What’s the best and worst thing about your job?


I’ve met some really great people over the years, and I really enjoy the challenge – a good challenge, that is. I love working on a bridging deal with a really tight deadline, trying to get funding which looks near impossible, but then making something happen, that’s great. Working under pressure is good; I find that’s the best way for me to work.


As for the worst thing, I really enjoy what I do, but I suppose it has become very frustrating at times. The availability of funding has decreased, but the demand is still there, so there’s a restrictive supply. It’s a real shame when we have to say no to deals we should be doing because we can’t get the funding.


The other thing is that I can’t switch off. I always have my phone next to me, I’m always thinking about work...


B&C: Your partner must love that?


Well he’s the same, he has his own company which installs security equipment, he can’t switch off either.


B&C: So your house is quite secure then?


It’s unbelievable! if you want to go into the garden you have to go through five locks! Each part of the house has its own alarm system.


B&C: How big is your house?!


Well, we have five bedrooms; I suppose we don’t really need them...


5. What trends have you noticed within the bridging industry over the last 12 months? And what trends do you predict for the next 12 months?


I think the bridging market has really started to gain its own identity, I think previously it used to be an add-on to the mortgage market and brokers would look at everything else first. But now that funding from traditional sources has become so restrictive, bridging has really come into its own, there are new and innovative products out there.


I would love for it to continue growing at its current pace, but I would expect to see it level out at some point, and I think the number of new entrants will have to slow too so that the market doesn’t become too saturated. I’d like to see the providers already out there come up with even more innovative products, which I think will happen as lenders continue to compete for market share.


6. Who do you fancy off the telly?


You might not approve of this, but Russell Brand.


B&C: Russell Brand! I love Russell Brand! Louise [B&C Editor] snogged him!


What? Really? What happened?


A three way exchange follows between Rebecca, Louise and Lucy, with lots of shrieks and giggles.


I also like Robert Pattinson, he certainly has a look about him...


7. What’s your favourite book and film and why?


I don’t actually have a favourite film, but I quite like funny rom-coms. I also really liked The Hangover, Madagascar, The Notebook – you need a box of tissues for that one!


As for books, I quite like the Twilight saga – I know it’s not very intellectual – I do buy books that I think I should read all the time, but I don’t get time to read them, when I do it takes me months...


8. If you could have a super power for one day what would it be and why?


Do I only get one?


B&C: Err yes, I think that’s pretty good Lucy.


No I want more! Hmmm... I suppose it would be to be invisible.


B&C: Where would you go?


(Giggling) I’m not telling you...


9. What would you put in Room 101?


Pushy, rude sales people – all rude people generally, in fact. I find it really frustrating when people try the hard sell, I’m quite stubborn so I don’t usually go for it; I don’t like it.


10. What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?


How old I was when I started the company – that surprises people – they often assume I’m much older, I know they don’t mean it but it shocks them, it’s quite embarrassing sometimes!

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