During the Covid pandemic, tennis ace Jordanne Whiley decided it was time for a career change and began studying as mortgage adviser. Today, she is a senior adviser with Hearthstone Mortgages.
As an athlete, Jordanne has won her fair share of accolades – she was Britain's youngest ever national women's singles champion in wheelchair tennis at the age of 14 and went on to win 13 grand slam titles, including the US open, as well as a silver medal at the 2020 Paralympics.
Jordanne spoke to LIBF Insights about her experience leaving the international tennis circuit and entering a chaotic mortgage market.
What made you change careers?
“I had my son in 2018, took about 18 months out, and then came back to the sport to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics. But at that time, I was also thinking about the end of my career because I had a son – I couldn't be retired at 28.
So, I decided to do my CeMAP alongside competing, to set me up for when I did eventually stop playing tennis.
I've always had a passion for financial services and property, so it was the only thing I was really interested in outside of tennis. I qualified in March 2020.”
How did you manage studying whilst competing at the highest level?
“It was very challenging, especially as I also had a young child to look after. It took me a year to do my CeMAP – the full 12 months. I did it with LIBF via distance learning, which allowed me the flexibility to continue my studies whilst I travelled the world playing tennis. But if I wasn't being a mum or playing tennis, I was studying.
How did you get your start in the industry?
“I got my CeMap certificate in March 2020 – the same week that we went into lockdown. Nobody was hiring. I even approached firms asking about unpaid internships, but everyone turned me down.
Then, in June, I met Ajay Nayyar, Managing Director at Hearthstone Mortgages, on a Zoom conference for property investors. I ended up contacting him afterwards because I needed a mortgage myself at the time.
During our call, it turned out that he knew who I was and had actually watched me win the Wimbledon doubles in 2016. I mentioned that I had just qualified as an adviser and was looking to get my break in the industry. It turned out that he was hiring and looking for an intern!
I started off just doing one day a week, from July to October. Then I as offered a position as a mortgage advisor on a self-employed basis – and I've literally been at the firm ever since. Now I'm the senior broker and the manager of the firm.”
Did attributes from your sporting background help you succeed in the mortgage industry?
“I think there's a lot of correlation. In both tennis and the mortgage industry, I had to be disciplined, driven, and ambitious.
My whole sporting career was based on my performance – if I didn't perform well, I wouldn't get sponsorships, I wouldn't get paid and I wouldn't be successful because I wouldn't win the trophies.
Then, when I became a broker, I was self-employed, so much of that still applied – it was still about performance. If I didn’t work hard, I wouldn’t get paid and if I didn’t provide good customer service, then I wasn’t going to be a successful broker.
So, in that sense, everything that I've ever known in sport was pretty much the same in the mortgage industry. It was just the physical side of things that was a bit different!”
What do you like most about the job?
“I love the fact that I go to work every day and I don't know what’s going to fall on my desk. I may get a straightforward remortgage, or I might get someone who's trying to buy land and build a warehouse. I'm constantly finding solutions, so I'm not just doing a desk job, sitting behind a computer.
Even in the first-time buyer market, you're still helping somebody get on the property ladder – probably the biggest investment that they are ever going to make.
I think there's so much more to the industry than people think.”
What advice would you give to someone entering the market?
“I think if someone really wants to go into financial services or mortgage advice then go for it – it can be a really exciting career path. I think you do have to have that drive and ambition, especially if you are going to go self-employed.
It’s not like a regular desk job. You really get to help people, whether it’s to buy their first home, grow their investment portfolios, grow their businesses, or simply to educate them on how to use mortgage lending to their advantage.
It can be a really rewarding job and I absolutely love it.”
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