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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Bradford banker turned businessman, meet one of the city’s newest entrepreneurs

Sharaz Ronnie Dutt left his safe job at Barclays to enter the city’s mortgage brokerage industry

Formerly a banker for Barclays in Bradford, Sharaz Ronnie Dutt has left his safe day job behind to launch his own financial services business for residential and commercial clients.

With over seven years of experience in the bank and insurance industry, Mr Dutt’s new company, the Bradford Mortgage Co, will help people in Bradford with mortgages, insurance, and equity release, among other things.

Mr Dutt 29, originally from Pakistan, worked for Barclays for six years progressing from an essential banker to a moment banker in May 2017. During his time at the bank, Mr Dutt worked with the local community providing them both with essential banking needs as well as raising money for charity.

Mr Dutt said: “After working in customer service for just under two years, I started at Barclays bank. The opportunity just sort of landed in my lap, I can’t even remember applying for the job, to be honest.

Mr Dutt worked at Barclays in Bradford for six years before taking the leap of opening his new business. 

“Working at the bank isn’t just people putting in and taking out money, it is a customer-facing role where you are working with people to increase their confidence and protect them from fraud. It is also helping people with insurance, credit cards, and loans, things that a lot of people find stressful or difficult to navigate.

“One of the key issues I worked to resolve in my role was fraud. Anyone can be a victim of it, and it is especially prevalent during the pandemic. With people cautious about being in public or unable to go outside, more people have fallen victim to scams or fraud, so it was my job to work with people to prevent this.”

Raising money for charity is also important for the financial advisor. In April, he raised over a massive £4300 for The Citizens Foundation, completing a 10 ‘Easter Run’ at Roberts Park, Saltaire.  “Raising money for charity both in the UK and abroad, such as Pakistan where I was born, is incredibly important to me”, says Mr Dutt. “I raised around £4300 for schools in Pakistan, and I hope to raise more money and be more active in local community projects around Bradford through my new job.”

Choosing to switch careers during a pandemic is a risky move, especially considering so many people have lost or are at risk of losing their jobs. For Mr Dutt, it was a natural progression. “I enjoyed my work at Barclays, but I wanted to do more.

“I came from Pakistan with my parents on my mum’s work permit when I was 12 in 2004. Seeing my mum who was a nurse work long and hard shifts, and my dad in the factory to provide for me and my siblings, it spurred me on to want to succeed.

“I have gone from working in KFC to Direct Line to Barclays. All of these jobs have taught me customer service skills. These customer service skills help in my new business. People aren’t just buying the services, but they are buying me. I will have a meeting at half nine in the night if that is what my clients want.

If it wasn’t for the support from family and friends, Mr Dutt wouldn’t have made the leap, leaving his “safe” job behind.

“Leaving a job with a guaranteed wage at the month was scary, but I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to be flexible, to choose my own hours.

“I was scared, excited, anxious, every emotion you could feel but I knew that I wanted to take on this challenge. I couldn’t do it without the support of my friends or family though. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have taken the leap.”

Discussing the practical steps, he took to becoming a mortgage advisor, Mr Dutt said: “I spoke to mortgage advisor colleagues at Barclay and my cousin who is also a mortgage advisor for guidance, and then completed my ceMAP qualification. I then started applying for jobs on LinkedIn, any jobs that were relevant and that was when I was approached by a consultant to start my franchise of the Mortgage Co and the rest is history.”

Landing his first commission recently, Mr Dutt has plenty more in the pipeline. He said: “It has been surprising that so many people are wanting financial services during the pandemic, it is a blessing that I have been so busy. My role as a mortgage broker is to take all the stress and pressure away from finding a new mortgage or a mortgage. A client can spend hours going through the terms of a mortgage from just one bank, but I can do that for them and find what lender is best for them.”

A common misconception about the banking industry is that you need to have a degree to enter the career, that is not true. To be a banker, you just need to be able to “work hard and be passionate about what you do” says Mr Dutt. To become a recognised mortgage advisor, you need to undertake a Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (ceMAP) qualification which can take a few weeks or a few months depending on which mode of learning you choose.

“I was scared, excited, anxious, every emotion you could feel but I knew that I wanted to take on this challenge. I couldn’t do it without the support of my friends or family though. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have taken the leap.”

This qualification can either be studied online as a distance learner that goes at your own pace and can fit around work, house, or care duties or in a fast-track classroom put on by the London Institute of Bank and Finance. Mr Dutt explains: “There are three modules and two huge books you need to read. At the end of course you then need to sit a few exams, and if you pass you become a recognised mortgage advisor.

“I like to get things done quickly so I can move on and progress, so I started the classroom learning programme in January 2020 before the pandemic hit, with the exams set for April. Due to the Coronavirus and the first lockdown, these exams were postponed until the summer. Thankfully, we were allowed to return to the classroom in August, so I got to sit my exams then, which I was excited about.”

Support from family and friends is always important when launching a new venture and the people close to Mr Dutt have been cheering him on. He said: “When you have stepped away from a regular job and started your own business, it is nerve-wracking. You just don’t know what each day will bring. Work has been busy and going well but there is always a risk.

“My family and friends have been there for me and are incredibly supportive of my new business. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Having flexible working hours is one of the benefits of working for yourself, Mr Dutt says.

One of the benefits of setting up your own business is having flexible working hours, being able to organise appointments around work. For Mr Dutt, being able to play golf, and teaching Karate at Chuldow Family Martial Arts in Morley on Wednesday and Thursday nights without having it to be cleared with management are two of the advantages.

Mr Dutt said: “I picked up golf last year after never playing the sport before. It was an unexpected hobby that came out of lockdown boredom but I’m really fond of the sport now.

“I have been teaching Karate for the past four years. I was asked by a friend who works there to join as a teacher, and I thought ‘Why not?’ It has really helped my confidence. Before then, I was shy and wouldn’t be able to talk to twenty or thirty people in a room, but now I don’t worry about it.

“During the various lockdowns and government restrictions, we were teaching students from four years old to adults on Zoom which was a bit weird. For the adult students, it wasn’t so bad, but it was hard to keep a young student’s attention at the best of times, let alone over the internet. We were one of the few places that remained teaching which meant that we kept all our students, and it hasn’t changed.

“We have been able to return to the studio following the relaxing of the rules. We just ensure that we are following proper procedure, washing hands, forming class bubbles, and being sensible with our distances.”

Keen to get young people off the streets, promote financial literacy, and get young people into meaningful employment, Mr Dutt is available to give advice and guidance to anyone he can. He says: “If my story will inspire one person, then that is why I’m sharing my story. You don’t have to go to university if you don’t want to, you just need to have passion and a drive to succeed. If anyone out there wants advice on their finances, or how to get into this career, then they can message me, and I will help.

“Bradford gets a bad rap, with the media showing people in cars driving dangerously up and down the streets. or showing illegal drug activities, but the people in the community are doing so much good work and there is a large proportion of successful business owners. This type of good news coming from Bradford is what we need to see.”

To contact Mr Dutt, you can visit his website here, or message him via his Facebook page @bradfordmortgageco or on Instagram at @bradford_mco.

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