A Week in My Life: Mark Gregory, founder & CEO at Equity Release Supermarket
Mark Gregory set up Equity Release Supermarket in 2008 with the aim of providing a quality, independent equity release advisory service.
During his 11 year tenure, he has created a unique advice service that has been nurtured using his experience from some of the UK’s top insurance brands. The business has grown significantly and created industry firsts through the use of tech and digital applications.
The founder of one of the top five equity release broker firms in the UK reveals what his working life is all about...
I'm more of your typical night owl, but most mornings I wake up at 6-ish. I like these few hours to gain a bit of headspace, walk the dog, get on top of things and plan ahead before the day truly begins.
I always make sure I’m available to the team first thing if needed - at Equity Release Supermarket (ERS) we have flexible working hours, just to give people the time they need to accommodate home life, families and other activities. I think this is crucial in today’s world as we all lead busy lives, so having the flexibility to allow for that work-life balance can be invaluable and has certainly added to the culture at ERS.
I start the day with my regular catch-up with my Ops Manager – it’s a good opportunity to discuss leads and performance of our 50 advisers and to iron out any potential issues before they arise. Then I’m off to the strategic board meeting for our end of quarter results. I like to use these meetings as a platform to evaluate not only our performance but also as an open forum for all heads of departments to gain all-inclusive feedback, enabling us to work on solutions and continue to make ERS a popular place to work. We end the meeting on a high having achieved a record month, our best to date in fact!
I hit the gym around 4pm, after 5 is a no-go for me, so this is the perfect window between work and feeling past it to work-out. My son has recently ‘found’ the gym, so we often train together after work. It’s not only a chance to spend some time with him, but it gives me an opportunity to clear my mind. Plus, he’s pretty fit now so it helps to add a competitive edge!
I start the day with my usual ops chat. I just find that this is the best way for me to eliminate stress – to take care of the foundations and plan for the day. Many would say that routine kills your creativity, but I find the opposite to be true, the more I have organised, the less likely I am to forget things and the more capacity I have to be creative. It also helps me to constantly move forward and get one step closer to reaching the next goal.
Today is led with keeping on top of business and interviewing to add to our growing national team of advisers. This one being a referral, which is always most welcome to hear. I always strived to build a supportive community that pushes people and that is fun to work in. So, if others are recommending us to their colleagues, then I feel I have achieved what I set out to create. Plus, it’s really important to me that people want to come to work for us and understand our ethics and ethos, which has been a proven formula for existing advisers.
In the early days of Equity Release Supermarket, enjoyment in my work came from making my own appointments, meeting clients and working hard to achieve my personal targets. Success for me now is very much about helping others to reach their goals - I get a huge sense of fulfilment in that and seeing others become successful.
I’ve always been a huge football fan and having grown up in Bolton, the Trotters are deep rooted in my blood. Whilst, tonight’s match was rather uninspiring with a nil-nil result, I’m glad to still have a team and one that is going strong – well, we’ll get there!
As usual, I tend to front-load my day, which is great for staying on top of things, but it means I spend my evenings catching up with emails, researching, reading and familiarising myself with news and updates in the industry – I’ve always felt this is important on a strategic level.
It’s demo time!
Today, I am testing and evaluating our new website with my son, Jamie, who is Head of IT. We have new tech which is set to become another industry first. It’s been a long time coming, well it has for us, having spent over 2 years inventing the technology, analysing the software, developing the processes and undertaking numerous testing protocols, but we’re finally here.
The idea was born out of a need to align our industry with the nation’s evolving reliance on technology. Our clients are over 55 and there’s a misconception that they don’t use the internet, when in fact the opposite is true. This new site enables those with an insight into equity release to really take control and personalise their results. With this new tool, it puts them in control and provides more transparency within the equity release market, but ultimately helps them understand what can be attained before engaging with an adviser – a winner for all really.
It’s been a lot of hard work in the making but seeing it come to fruition is amazing and I’m really excited about what we can achieve as innovators in the market-place.
This evening, I attended a Leader’s Dinner, mixing with business owners and CEOs from some of the best known and largest brands in the North West. It was a privilege to be there alongside them and to witness just how much growth, success and talent we have in the North.
The surprise guest was international speaker and author, Professor Damian Hughes - what an interesting and insightful character he was.
A top day all in all.
Today is a rare day off.
Of course, with the joys of the internet, I’m still on hand and never far away!
I’m up early and off to the airport to fly to Stuttgart with my son Josh for the Motor Show. Josh has just joined ERS after completing his A-Levels earlier this year. This wasn’t always his intention, but I regularly chat to the boys about my vision for ERS, the importance of working hard and bounce around ideas with them. So, I think his hunger for getting into working life and his appetite to be part of something new, led him to join the business earlier than expected.
Tonight is the Financial Reporter’s Women’s Recognition Awards and our very own Hannah Boxshall is up for ‘Retirement Adviser’ of the Year award. Super proud of her, she does fabulous work and I’m gutted not to be there alongside her, but our top local adviser is attending for added support and to enjoy a few drinks along the way.
A fun day and now for a catch-up on the day before a late finish.
I’m meeting with my architects at our potential new company premises today - a converted barn in Cheshire. We’ve expanded significantly in the UK over the past 18 months, so the new offices are reflective of our growth.
I like to encourage cohesion as it’s particularly important within business. The new space should contribute to collegial workplace culture. The hub will support our head office operations but will be accessible to all. We’re now just waiting on planning application approval so watch this space!
I read recently you’re either a ‘Thank god it’s Friday’ person or in the ‘Glad it’s Monday’ camp. I love a Friday as it’s an office day, so a chance to catch up with the team and I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends over the weekend. But equally, when it comes around to Monday, I’m excited to start my week, as I really enjoy work. Ultimately, I think you can enjoy the best of both!