Redundant at 59 – it’s never too late to fall in love with a new career…

Sixty-three year old Mortgage Advisor Sheryl Towers is a real life example of someone who fell in love with a new career later in life. After being made redundant from her job as Financial Advisor at the age of 59, she feared not being able to find more work.

However, for Sheryl, redundancy definitely wasn’t the end; it was the catalyst for a return to a job she would love – being a Mortgage Advisor.

The journey started with a career change at 42

The mum-of-two first trained to be a Mortgage Advisor in the late 1990s, whilst working at Halifax. She’d done numerous jobs for the company before that, from cashier work, to leading the cashier team, and answering customer calls in their call centre.

“I’d been there [at Halifax] for a few years. I didn’t go there with any career aspirations whatsoever. It was just a part-time job to fit in around the children, but I started looking at other roles because you get bored doing the same role. And the role I was in was coming to an end.”

It was at this time that Halifax offered Sheryl a job as a Mortgage Advisor.

“I just thought yeah, Mortgage Advising – that sounds good to me. When I went into it, it wasn’t regulated. My training involved being sat with someone for 10 minutes. So it was a different world, but then it very quickly changed to become a regulated profession.”

Balancing work and family to get CeMAP qualified

With talk of mortgage advice becoming regulated (which eventually happened in 2004), Sheryl realised the benefit of getting her CeMAP qualification. This qualification confirms that Mortgage Advisors have the the level of skills and knowledge required to provide high-quality advice – it covers everything from the mortgage application process, to mortgage arrears, and post-completion complications. Halifax offered Sheryl the opportunity to take the qualification whilst working, so that her knowledge and skill set would be up to date.

She recalls how the flexibility of the course allowed her to do the qualification as quickly as possible, but at a pace she was comfortable with. She explains, “Not having studied for 30 years, I had to learn how to study again and find out how I studied best. That was a big learning curve. You sort of have to get to a point where you think, ‘right that works for me.’

Sheryl feels that one of the best things about the CeMAP qualification is that once you’ve successfully completed it, the knowledge stays with you for life. And Sheryl would recommend taking CeMAP to people of any age – so long as you’re willing to put the study time in to get it.

“I thought that I might not be employable”

After spending several years away from mortgages, as a Financial Adviser at Halifax, Sheryl was hit by the news that she was to be made redundant from her role. At 59 years old, her immediate thought was that she would not be able to find an employer that would take her on.

“I was 59 thinking right, I’m redundant – what am I going to do? I was thinking I’m never going to get offered another job because of my age. I thought that I might not be employable.”

However, after processing the news, Sheryl started to look at her options, She realised that her CeMAP certificate was still valid, which provided a route back into Mortgage Advice. Yet the fear remained that it might be hard to find an employer.

She recalls how the flexibility of the course allowed her to do the qualification as quickly as possible, but at a pace she was comfortable with.

“Not having studied for 30 years, I had to learn how to study again and find out how I studied best. That was a big learning curve. You sort of have to get to a point where you think, ‘right that works for me.’”

Sheryl feels that one of the best things about the CeMAP qualification is that once you’ve successfully completed it, the knowledge stays with you for life. And Sheryl would recommend taking CeMAP to people of any age – so long as you’re willing to put the study time in to get it.

“I was getting 3-4 calls a day from recruiters. I was really surprised.”

Find your next challenge

Sheryl had a very pleasant surprise, which proved her initial fears to be unfounded.

“As part of my redundancy package, we went on these courses that would show you how to put your CV together and help you create a LinkedIn profile. I went on LinkedIn and I didn’t realise how important and relevant it would be. I just put my profile up and I was getting 3-4 calls a day. I was really surprised.”

Now Sheryl works from home as a self-employed Mortgage Advisor, although still part of a company that helps to pass leads her way.

Sheryl is happy and settled in her job, where she spends her days being rewarded by helping people with one of the most important financial decisions of their lives.

“No matter where you are in your life stages; a mortgage is a huge thing. Whether it’s your first mortgage, you’re moving up the property ladder, you’re downsizing, or remortgaging…Whatever the reason is, it’s hugely important. You know it’s your biggest asset, it’s your biggest outgoing normally, so you want to make sure you get the right advice.”

“It sounds dead cheesy but I love doing it.. I love being able to offer people solutions if they come in and they say ‘Oh, I’m not sure about this’ and then I think ‘Ok, well let’s have a look and see what we can do to help’. I’m a people person – I like working with people.”

“My biggest barrier to getting back into work was myself”

Sheryl recognises now that her fears about not finding work following redundancy, stemmed from her own self-doubt.

“My biggest barrier to getting back into work was myself – thinking no one is going to want to employ me because of my age etc.”

She also thinks highly of the CeMAP qualification she gained whilst training to be a Mortgage Advisor. Although she gained the qualification prior to being made redundant, she said she’d still have done it late in life if she’d needed it to get back into full time work.

“If someone had said to me at the age of 59; right you’re employable but you need to do this [the CeMAP], I would have done it. But, it depends on what your personal circumstances are – everyone is individual in what they do and don’t want to do.”

“There’s definitely a benefit to having life experience when giving mortgage advice”

Sheryl also believes her experience gives her a huge advantage in her chosen career.

“I think there’s definitely a benefit to having life experience when you’re giving Mortgage Advice. If someone’s had a mortgage themselves, then you know what it’s all about.”

For Sheryl, having the added benefit of experience means she is able to use empathy and understanding to fully engage with and get to know her customers.

“You can get the information you need to do an assessment by simply having a conversation with someone – you don’t just have to go through a tick list. I couldn’t just sit there and spout out question after question to someone.” Laughing, she continues, “I’m interested in people – I’m nosy, so I want to know what they do in their spare time. I want to know how they spend money.”

It’s never too late to do what you love

For Sheryl, redundancy was an opportunity for rediscovery that reignited her passion for a previous career. She’s also living proof that it’s never too late to invest time retraining for a new career. Often if it will set you off on a happier, more fulfilling path towards a job you’ll love.

If you’re feeling inspired, read our guide to starting a new career as a Mortgage Advisor.

Are you looking for a Mortgage Advisor role?

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