National Career Development Month; Building a varied career
‘I’ve worked on the funder and broker sides so I understand how hard they both work to support businesses’
No matter where we are in our careers, our learning never stops, and this National Career Development Month our people are sharing their experience working in finance and the things that have helped shape them as professionals. We sat down with Joe Ralphs, Head of Operations at Time Finance, to hear about his varied career managing both sides of our valued broker partnerships.
- Tell us about your career history with Time Finance, when you joined and your progression with the business.
My career with Time Finance started in 2008 when it was known as 1pm and before it began its buy and build strategy to later rebrand as Time Finance in 2020. I joined as a Trainee Underwriter and within six months became the business’ sole Underwriter, eventually leading on our broker relationships. I love travelling around and meeting new people, so broker liaison was a perfect fit for me. In 2015, we acquired Academy Leasing in Bath and I had the amazing opportunity to grow the new business team there. That was an incredible experience; I built a wonderful team and I’m very proud of what we achieved.
In 2016, a new challenge was calling and I decided to jump the fence over to the broker side. I’d managed broker relationships but always from the funding side. I wanted to try something new and see things from a different perspective. I joined an asset finance brokerage as Head of Sales and it really opened my eyes. As funders, we review finance proposals without a true appreciation of the amount of work that has gone into them from the broker. I was only at the brokerage for a short time before I rejoined Time Finance but what I learned has shaped my career since. I have a good awareness of both sides of the table, and that’s really valuable in what we do.
I came back to Time Finance as a Broker Manager and had a series of promotions within the Asset Finance team before becoming Head of Operations in 2021. In this role I bring together all my experience on both the funder and broker sides, the knowledge I have of both hard and soft assets and our direct vendor relationships. I’ve interrogated how we do things, and made a lot of changes that have been disruptive in the short term but I think it’s important to challenge how things are done. Ultimately it ensures we’re giving businesses and our broker partners what they need.
- When and how did you originally get into finance?
Originally, I trained as a ballet dancer. I did GCSE dance and at the age of 16 I moved from my home in the New Forest to London to train professionally. Unfortunately though I broke my foot, and that meant a change of career path and I really wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. I had various jobs in retail and hospitality and eventually moved out of London to Bath and put my CV out everywhere. One day a recruiter interviewed me for the Trainee Underwriter role at 1pm, and immediately I found my path. I had such a good feeling as soon as the interview finished. This would be a career where I could travel, meet new people and build relationships, and I was really excited for what was to come.
- What do you enjoy most about working in finance and Time Finance specifically?
The people, without a doubt. Finance is a very varied industry and Time finance is full of people that are different from each other but also complement each other too. In our business, especially as it grows, there’s always someone new to learn from, and I really value that. I’m a bit of a sponge when it comes to absorbing knowledge from other people, and having lots of colleagues to learn from is one of the greatest things about Time Finance.
- Have you undertaken any formal training while at Time Finance?
I’ve done two NVQ courses in business administration, which were CIty & Guilds level 3 and 4 and these have been really helpful in my career. I also began a masters in asset finance but unfortunately had to stop when my dad injured himself and my help was needed on our family farm.
I’m a big believer in learning from experience, and that learning never stops. I’ve never been formally mentored or trained on how to manage people, or how to build my career but I’ve watched others, experienced things first hand and made plenty of mistakes - and learned from them too!
- What are your passions?
I love travelling and meeting new people. I’ve recently completed a huge home renovation and I also love gardening; I have a green house and a veg patch and tending to them is my happy place where I can find peace and moments of mindfulness. I also love to cook; I show my love through food and find it really relaxing. I also really enjoy people watching. When I was in London as a student I lived in Russell Square and me and my flatmate would gaze out of the window and imagine stories about people who were just going about their daily lives. IIt was great; you can learn so much from observing people.
- What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I remember reading once that you should surround yourself with people that are better than you. That isn’t to say they are better at your job than you but that they are better at something; it could be their knowledge of a system, or their experience in a different field; it could even be that they are great at general knowledge quizzes or crosswords. Whatever it is, learn from them. Always be a student, even when you are also a teacher!