Nicola Schutrups is the Managing Director of The Mortgage Hut, a mortgage brokerage founded in 2011. She oversees a team of over 50 people and operations generating a multi-million-pound turnover. Before joining the team Nicola worked in banking and then as part of the British Airways cabin crew, which gave her a unique understanding of the complexities of obtaining a mortgage on an unpredictable income. She provides much of The Mortgage Hut’s expert advice with a focus on how to get a mortgage approved and what changes in the housing market mean for buyers.
Here, Nicola speaks to Start Your Business about her challenges, successes and shares her advice for navigating the housing market today.
What has been your career journey to date? Why did you join The Mortgage Hut?
I started out working in banking after I finished at school but I love going on adventures so when I saw British Airways were advertising for Cabin Service Managers, I had to go for it. I was there for five years and studied for my CeMap at 37,000ft! I joined The Mortgage Hut in 2015 and was made Managing Director in 2018. Working with my colleagues as cabin crew gave me an insight into how having an unpredictable income can impact on getting a mortgage, so now I really enjoy being able to help people with irregular incomes find a mortgage.
Can you tell me a little more about The Mortgage Hut and what you do?
The Mortgage Hut is a mortgage brokerage based in Southampton which has been giving expert industry advice since 2011. I oversee all the main functions of the business, managing a team of 50 people, including a team of 30 advisors who collectively deal with over 2000 inquiries a month. We offer specialist advice and mortgages for people who might traditionally struggle to get a mortgage, such people who are self-employed or have bad credit. My main objective is to make sure we give the best possible outcomes to every single customer who contacts us.
What has been your biggest challenge as Managing Director?
My biggest challenge has been implementing our employed advisor model, moving away from a self-employed model. It’s given us greater control of the business, as well as streamlined our processes, so we’re much more efficient. I am super proud of how I managed to pivot the business that way. It’s improved our underlying profitability, made recruiting amazing talent much easier and has vastly improved the overall experience for our customers too.
What has been your biggest success?
It’s so important to me to use my influence and connections to help women thrive in the industry. I’m proud that The Mortgage Hut office has a fifty-fifty split of male and female colleagues and I love being able to use my position to proactively support and promote women in The Mortgage Hut office, as well as women in businesses in the surrounding area.
As a woman in a position of leadership, how do you see the landscape for women’s opportunities changing in your industry?
I think now is probably one of the best times ever to be a woman in business. There are a lot of new opportunities, and while there is still a lot of education to be done, I see women doing amazing things every day. They’re really challenging the barriers of entry and pushing everything forward.
What do you think is one of the most pressing issues in the housing market at the moment? And how does your company help people respond to it?
The most pressing issue, if you remove any Covid uncertainty, is the lack of properties available to buy. Many are being snapped up before they even get listed and buyers are often being outbid. We are helping our clients by ensuring they are in a proceedable position with a decision in principle before they view properties. The speed at which a client is able to move on the transaction is helping our clients secure their dream home.
You provide much of The Mortgage Hut’s expert mortgage advice; how do you develop these insights? Have you got a specific area of interest that you find fascinating?
I love expanding my knowledge and finding out the ways lenders are so different in their criteria. Not specifically an area of interest, but I love the challenge of finding a lender who will lend to a client that has been turned down elsewhere and thinks they have no hope. This often happens where bad credit is involved so I keep track of all of the lenders changes to criteria through their regular email updates and store it away to help when needed. Writing articles around this subject has also helped clients find us.
What tips would you give small business owners looking to find the ideal mortgage?
Speak to a broker. They will take all of the information regarding the income your business generates and tell you the best lender for your specific situation. It may be that you are looking to use retained profits within the business, or have recently switched from a sole trader to a limited company and there are many lenders that won’t do these type of scenarios. If you approach one lender along, the chances are slim that they will be the right lender for you. With access to over 100 lenders – if the mortgage can be done – a broker will know the best lender for your individual situation.