A recent survey of the financial sector showed that many women have suffered from stress and anxiety. Our founder, Monica Bradley, managed to stay positive and grow her business during the pandemic. She shares her top tips for remaining focused and positive in a crisis.

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone, but it seems that women in the finance sector have been hit particularly hard.

A recent survey carried out by financial services body the CISI revealed that 55 per cent of women working in the finance sector have suffered from stress, anxiety, or depression in the last 12 months. The survey, carried out in May and June this year, received nearly 5000 responses. A question that asked whether respondents had suffered from stress, anxiety or depression was met with a ‘yes’ from 39 per cent of males and a significantly higher 55 per cent of females. Some 46 per cent of women also said they had worked more hours over the last year.

When the pandemic first took hold in the UK, our founder, Monica Bradley, faced significant pressure as she had to manage the impact of the closure of the property market during the first lockdown, while helping clients who were concerned about their ability to pay their mortgages.

Three lockdowns and over a year of restrictions and uncertainty has affected all of us in some way. Yet as a business owner and manager, Monica had to be strong for her clients and colleagues in the face of adversity. How did she cope with the added pressure brought on by the pandemic and its unpredictable consequences?

Monica reveals her top tips for coping with challenging times and how she coped during the worst of the pandemic…

‘I focused on helping others’

It’s often said that you can distract yourself from your own problems by helping other people. My job was to do just that. I had to be there for my clients – many of whom had serious concerns about how they would pay their mortgages and how mortgage payment holidays worked. Many were worried about the long-term consequences of taking a mortgage payment holiday and understandably had lots of questions. My job was to calmly inform and educate clients on their options and ensure they had enough information to make an informed decision. I also had to be there to support and mentor my staff who were grappling with the overnight challenges of working from home.

‘I concentrated on keeping busy’

Even though the property market came to a halt during the first lockdown, it became very busy when the market opened up again and the stamp duty holiday was introduced in July 2020. I’d be lying if I said the pandemic wasn’t on my mind but if you have problems, it’s best to keep yourself busy and take your mind off the things you can’t control. The busier you are the less time you have to sit around and fret.

‘I didn’t dwell on the things I couldn’t control’

Like a lot of businesspeople, I like to be in control, but it was quite apparent early on that I couldn’t control the impact of the pandemic. I decided to focus on the things I could control, such as my health, my business, and my mindset. I knew it was down to me to manage my mindset. Yes, I had the occasional difficult day, but I reminded myself that I was in the driving seat where my attitude was concerned. I could choose to be angry and frustrated or I could choose to work hard and be positive.

‘I focused on growing the business’

While some people were focusing on survival (and I get that totally), I thought a more positive outlook would be to focus on how I could grow the business rather than just ‘getting through’ the pandemic. I recruited more mortgage advisers, took on three new apprentices and a new case manager, and recruited a full-time content & marketing manager to raise the profile of the business and reach potential new clients. In a crisis situation, you can sit back and wait for things to go wrong, or you can be proactive and create new opportunities. The number of people who set up successful online businesses during the pandemic is evidence of how a fresh approach to business can be beneficial. We focused on how we could make more people aware of our business.

‘I kept in contact with my regular clients’

I’ve been in the financial services sector for 30 years and as a result, I have many clients I’ve known for decades. I also deal with generations of families – grandparents, parents and their adult children come to me for mortgage advice, and I’m flattered when families recommend me to relatives and loved ones. During the earlier stages of the pandemic, when we were told to stay home, it would have been easy to shrink away. I missed seeing clients in person, but I made a point of keeping in close contact with my regular clients and I encouraged my staff to do the same. I’m a very social person and this not only kept me feeling positive but also made me feel like I was genuinely helping them.

‘I took care of my health’

I’ve always exercised as I believe it benefits all aspects of my life, including my ability to focus at work and my energy levels. While I don’t have time to go out and run marathons, I exercise every day. My favourite form of exercise is weight training, but I also have a cross-trainer at home and enjoy yoga. I missed going to the gym but kept up my exercise routine at home. The endorphin release made me feel positive and reminded me that I’m in control of my health.

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