Diary of an adviser: Harriet Mackenzie-Williams

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Diary of an adviser: Harriet Mackenzie-Williams

MondayI do not particularly relish Monday mornings, but they keep on coming.   

I am at my desk before 8am, trying not to look smug. The advisers have been busy over the weekend: seven files to check.

I manage to take a long evening walk. It is a great time to just take stock without distractions. I am lucky to live in the land of Sherwood Forest, some beautiful walking off the beaten track. And I do love trees.


Pay week. Not only am I chasing missing statements or payments, but the files keep on coming. Do not get me wrong, after the recent quiet period during lockdown, I am grateful to see things picking up. 

The mortgages have to be checked very quickly at the moment. With the rates changing daily, the advisers want the go ahead to hit the ‘apply’ button straightaway.

It is a bit damp for a walk this evening. I sort out our camping gear for the weekend and the first trip away of the year. 2020 will not be forgotten in a hurry.


A few statements have arrived for last minute inputting and manual matching – no time for the overnight run. Luckily, none are too long. 

One of the things I love most about this job is the advisers calling just to bounce ideas around.

It is hard working alone, and these calls can be what keeps them sane. Often, it is just a ‘have you considered…?’ that is needed. These talks are always varied and interesting.

I am stressing as my daughter and her fiancé are waiting for an appointment with HSBC for their first mortgage. They had an agreement in principle from a lender, put in an offer, and by the time it was accepted, that lender had withdrawn all 90 per cent mortgages. Only HSBC is left. 

I have just accepted an offer to sell the house they live in. Whoops.


The regulatory invoice just arrived. The costs of being regulated and professional indemnity insurance have, frankly, become ridiculous. 

We are fortunate that we are big enough to share the costs, but small enough to keep a close eye on the business being written. It is all pre-sale signed off, so no surprises after the event.

I am seeing a few mortgage cases coming back where the lenders have changed their criteria and not published it. 

The adviser has to start again. It appears that some lenders are automatically reducing some incomes by 25 per cent; we only know this anecdotally when a business development manager lets it slip. 

I do not know how advisers are supposed to know the best mortgage to recommend when the lenders keep moving the goal posts like this. 2020 hits again.


Only working half a day today.  I pay everyone, check for any last files and then go for a weekend of camping. It is tipping with rain of course. But we are British – we can handle camping in the rain.

Harriet MacKenzie-Williams is managing director of Keystone Financial

If you would like to write a Diary of an Adviser then contact Ima Jackson-Obot at ima.jacksonobot@ft.com