A day in the life of: Martin Heppenstall, chief underwriter, More 2 life

My alarm goes off at…

…6am. I would love to say I wake up with a spring in my step and a smile on my face but that would not be technically true. It is more like a creaking noise and a confused thought as to whether that was my knees. However, a quick shower and a cup of coffee, and I am good to go.

I cannot leave the house without

…my other half (as we work together) and my rucksack.

I travel to work…

…by car. It usually takes about one hour to travel to work, depending on the traffic and the time of the year.

The main purpose of my job is…

…to ensure our processes and procedures are adequate for each of our funders’ risk models, whilst ensuring all the lending criteria are applied in the correct manner. I also train and develop the underwriting team, and provide technical support to our third parties and stakeholders.

I joined…

…when it all began in July 2007.

My typical day…

…does not exist as no two are the same. Generally, I arrive in the office early and this then allows me to prepare for the day ahead. I do not like surprises; therefore I try to plan as much as possible throughout the day but have yet to master the fine art of this. There are always things that come along that no amount of planning can cater for. Maybe this is also what makes it interesting. To quote Forrest Gump: “Underwriting is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.”

People may not know that I’m responsible for…

…oversight and management of all the lending criteria and technical processes.

A common misconception about my job is…

…most people generally think underwriters do not like lending money and love saying ‘no’ – this is in fact so far removed from the truth. Our ethos is to review each risk component and understand its implications before making a decision. The team will hate me for saying this, but I always refer to my risk bar. If you start with your arms open this is your risk bar and only by mitigating the risk will this bar shorten.

My favourite misconception is that people think underwriters are like hermits and do not like speaking with people; in fact we love coming across the weird and wonderful, and only by speaking and discussing the information to hand can we ensure we make the correct decisions.

My favourite work memory is…

…I do not have a specific memory as such as there are so many things I have been lucky enough to have been involved with. However, I suppose from being the only member of More 2 life in 2008 to now being the chief underwriter for a company, which is now the third largest independent equity release provider with over 200 employees, is a pretty good memory.

A perk of the job is…

…the odd black tie dinner.

To unwind after work I like to…

…watch football and I am a massive Liverpool fan. Of course, spending time with my amazing family and walking the dog (he is the only dog I know who does not like going out) are other favourite pastimes of mine, not forgetting supporting the local breweries with the occasional pint.

My role in five words…

…challenging, varied, interesting, satisfying and educational.

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