Inspirational Woman: Joanna Streames | Founder & Director, Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services

Joanna Streames

50 year-old financial services expert, Joanna Streames from Great Oakley Northants, is not your archetypal besuited number-cruncher but a mission focused entrepreneur putting the fire back into insurance!

Passionate about putting what she knows best into practice so that her clients can protect their world, Joanna has been described as “bold, blunt and brilliant” and “a financial wonder woman” by those who have benefited from her expertise and straight-talking advice. Working with everyone from company directors to families of every kind, Founder and Director of Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services, Joanna, is on a mission to help families leave a legacy and protect what they’ve worked so hard for.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

What do you get when you mix an abundance of financial knowledge with a lived experience of real life money struggles, alongside a hefty dose of straight talk and a commitment to making every day count? A feisty female entrepreneur passionate about helping us all to protect our livelihoods, on a mission to shake up the insurance and protection industry – and change lives.

I come from a hard-working, working-class family. My parents separated when I was young and when I was just 19 years old, my mother tragically died and I found myself Guardian to my 12-year-old sister. We struggled financially because there wasn’t enough provision in place. The Will was a mess and legal fees involved took a large chunk of our inheritance leaving us penniless.  I was totally responsible for our wellbeing.

Fast forward into adulthood and I’ve been motivated my entire life to make sure that nothing like that should ever happen to the ones I love. As I progressed through my career, I began to see that it doesn’t have to be the case for anyone else either.

The simple fact is that I don’t ever want anyone to face what we did. The trauma of losing a parent, followed by the stress of not being able to make ends meet was the most horrendous experience, compounding our grief and it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t matter what your income is, with some sound financial planning, you and your loved ones can be secure, without breaking the bank.

That’s the passion I have now, running my own company, Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services. I want to help people protect what they’ve worked so hard for.

People often protect their pets more than they protect themselves and their family usually because the majority of us are blinded by financial science. Everyday people tell me they don’t trust mortgage and insurance advisers and that’s an indictment on the industry – we need to become more human, more approachable, more real and diverse otherwise the nation stays in a state of denial, and I know the damage that can cause and the pain and confusion when you’re the family left to pick up the pieces when things haven’t been put in place.

People don’t know what they don’t know and are scared of the stereotypical financial adviser and I’m on a mission to change that.

I think for most people they’re so overwhelmed by the products on the market, so it’s often easier to have another ‘duvet day’ and think, I’ll deal with that tomorrow – but sometimes tomorrow is too late. People need good, uncomplicated, straightforward advice and someone to lead them through the best choices for them. My mum didn’t have that, and I never want anyone else to find themselves in the same position. I’m here saying ‘I’m ready to lead the change’ – I’m ready to be ‘the people’s protection service’ and I know I can change lives with this approach.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

After leaving school, I initially applied for college and apprentice schemes, but the lure of a wage took me straight into the world of work where I started working for a local solicitors office, which I loved.

Would I ever say I regret not going to college? Probably not – I cut my teeth in the industry, I made some great connections and was introduced to all kinds of things. I guess you could say I trained on the job. You name it, I’ve done it, conveyancing, criminal, Wills and probate and I’ve loved it all.

I’d say I’ve always been a self-starter, always pushing forward.  I’ve always had an entrepreneurial flair which I used when I applied and got through to the final round of auditions for BBC’s Apprentice with Lord Sugar. That wasn’t to be, but it was a fabulous confidence boost and ultimately ignited my zeal for running a business of my own and led to a change of industry for me into the one I love so much now.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I don’t think any of us are without challenges and I’ve experienced that in my personal and business life.

My biggest challenge of losing my mum and becoming legal guardian to my sister the day after my 19th birthday has become my catalyst for my passion-led business.

Your challenges can become your driver.  My own personal story has led to my business being my calling; I care deeply and have empathy – that makes me more human in my approach.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved in business. Success isn’t overnight and it’s taken a career-full of knock-backs, lessons, and plain hard work. But, the business is soaring and now turning over six-figures, but more importantly protecting families across the UK – I know I have changed thousands of lives already with my business and unique approach being different from the norm means I have connected with all types of clients and been able to protect them and their families.

I feel blessed that I am building my business with my three beautiful daughters. There aren’t many girls who work with their mums, or would even want to! But I have three intelligent, beautiful, strong women alongside me and I love it.

This past year, we have been up-levelling the business – working alongside a branding expert and PR team to ensure we are positioning ourselves differently.  We’ve already launched a brand new website, which is more appealing, less intimidating and more user friendly than many others in the industry.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

There are so many things I could mention, resilience being vital. But the longer I run this business the more significant it has become to me, that the major factor in achieving success has been ‘to be myself, freshen up the industry, create careers and, of course, protect people.’

I have a wealth of experience but that doesn’t mean I need to be aloof and difficult to connect with. I’m absolutely passionate about providing the best possible advice in a really accessible way, to everyone who wants it, irrespective of their bank balance and post code. I work with multi-million pound clients, to established businesses, to those just starting their career and everyone in between. I run an excellent service, heart led and with the client at the centre, with an incredible team and we’re doing it our unique way.

I’ve been described as “bold, blunt & brilliant” – “a financial wonder woman” by those who have benefited from my expertise and straight-talking advice. I am ‘down-to-earth’ & if we’re going to make this sector more accessible, that’s exactly what’s needed and plenty more of it!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? 

I believe mentoring is absolutely vital – I personally have a few different mentors and coaches and I am also a mentor/coach for others in my industry. A lot of women and a few men have reached out to me and I just love to help them by kicking out my mistakes and keeping and copying my successes.

I want to set new industry standards and develop a network of ethical, straight-talking, down-to-earth insurers like myself who provide a fabulous service. These past few months I have been moving into coaching and mentoring other advisers, to incorporate the ethics of their trade as well as providing the very best in services and products.  I want to help bring more women into the industry which is less than 20% currently at adviser level or above and diversify with different ages and nationalities.  When done correctly, it’s a wonderful industry to be with a meaningful result.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Boldly breaking through stereotypes.

Purposefully, I’m not your archetypal be-suited number-cruncher in stereotyped grey suits, I’m a strong woman who wears pink and red! Why? Because, I am fighting against the image of the protection world in order to make it less intimidating and more welcoming.  I’m just being me.

I am a huge advocate for ensuring more young-people and women enter the industry. Women need to know they can be successful in roles in finance and that it is changing from being just a man’s world. It doesn’t stop there though, if I can help different nationalities and ages too enter this industry and have a meaningful career, now that really would be something.  Let’s get our industry awash with diversity so that the clients we help find someone they relate to and more diverse section of the UK have the cover they really need because they’ve found someone to relate to.

I am passionate about continuing to share my story – via PR, marketing, networking, talking in schools/community-centres… about a career in finance, to appeal to these demographics.

I also feel there needs to be a change in financial education – like I have done with my three daughters, we have to encourage our children to become financially astute and educate them and help them to become trailblazers for the young people of the future!

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Educate yourself financially, work hard and then protect yourself properly.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

My future plans are even bigger than my history! I want to scale up and help protect more families and people. I want to mentor mortgage and protection advisers so that together we can run fantastic businesses and look at the ethical reasons behind what we’re doing.

I’m also determined to get money management into the curriculums into our schools. We owe it to our children to teach them because it protects them in the long run and opens up a whole new world of opportunity at the same time. We must equip future generations on how to make money, keep money, manage money, duplicate money and my speciality PROTECT money.

Joanna Streames

50 year-old financial services expert, Joanna Streames from Great Oakley Northants, is not your archetypal besuited number-cruncher but a mission focused entrepreneur putting the fire back into insurance!

Passionate about putting what she knows best into practice so that her clients can protect their world, Joanna has been described as “bold, blunt and brilliant” and “a financial wonder woman” by those who have benefited from her expertise and straight-talking advice. Working with everyone from company directors to families of every kind, Founder and Director of Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services, Joanna, is on a mission to help families leave a legacy and protect what they’ve worked so hard for.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

What do you get when you mix an abundance of financial knowledge with a lived experience of real life money struggles, alongside a hefty dose of straight talk and a commitment to making every day count? A feisty female entrepreneur passionate about helping us all to protect our livelihoods, on a mission to shake up the insurance and protection industry – and change lives.

I come from a hard-working, working-class family. My parents separated when I was young and when I was just 19 years old, my mother tragically died and I found myself Guardian to my 12-year-old sister. We struggled financially because there wasn’t enough provision in place. The Will was a mess and legal fees involved took a large chunk of our inheritance leaving us penniless.  I was totally responsible for our wellbeing.

Fast forward into adulthood and I’ve been motivated my entire life to make sure that nothing like that should ever happen to the ones I love. As I progressed through my career, I began to see that it doesn’t have to be the case for anyone else either. 

The simple fact is that I don’t ever want anyone to face what we did. The trauma of losing a parent, followed by the stress of not being able to make ends meet was the most horrendous experience, compounding our grief and it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t matter what your income is, with some sound financial planning, you and your loved ones can be secure, without breaking the bank. 

That’s the passion I have now, running my own company, Velvet Mortgage and Insure Services. I want to help people protect what they’ve worked so hard for. 

People often protect their pets more than they protect themselves and their family usually because the majority of us are blinded by financial science. Everyday people tell me they don’t trust mortgage and insurance advisers and that’s an indictment on the industry – we need to become more human, more approachable, more real and diverse otherwise the nation stays in a state of denial, and I know the damage that can cause and the pain and confusion when you’re the family left to pick up the pieces when things haven’t been put in place.

People don’t know what they don’t know and are scared of the stereotypical financial adviser and I’m on a mission to change that. 

I think for most people they’re so overwhelmed by the products on the market, so it’s often easier to have another ‘duvet day’ and think, I’ll deal with that tomorrow – but sometimes tomorrow is too late. People need good, uncomplicated, straightforward advice and someone to lead them through the best choices for them. My mum didn’t have that, and I never want anyone else to find themselves in the same position. I’m here saying ‘I’m ready to lead the change’ – I’m ready to be ‘the people’s protection service’ and I know I can change lives with this approach.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

After leaving school, I initially applied for college and apprentice schemes, but the lure of a wage took me straight into the world of work where I started working for a local solicitors office, which I loved.

Would I ever say I regret not going to college? Probably not – I cut my teeth in the industry, I made some great connections and was introduced to all kinds of things. I guess you could say I trained on the job. You name it, I’ve done it, conveyancing, criminal, Wills and probate and I’ve loved it all.

I’d say I’ve always been a self-starter, always pushing forward.  I’ve always had an entrepreneurial flair which I used when I applied and got through to the final round of auditions for BBC’s Apprentice with Lord Sugar. That wasn’t to be, but it was a fabulous confidence boost and ultimately ignited my zeal for running a business of my own and led to a change of industry for me into the one I love so much now.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I don’t think any of us are without challenges and I’ve experienced that in my personal and business life. 

My biggest challenge of losing my mum and becoming legal guardian to my sister the day after my 19th birthday has become my catalyst for my passion-led business. 

Your challenges can become your driver.  My own personal story has led to my business being my calling; I care deeply and have empathy – that makes me more human in my approach.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved in business. Success isn’t overnight and it’s taken a career-full of knock-backs, lessons, and plain hard work. But, the business is soaring and now turning over six-figures, but more importantly protecting families across the UK – I know I have changed thousands of lives already with my business and unique approach being different from the norm means I have connected with all types of clients and been able to protect them and their families.

I feel blessed that I am building my business with my three beautiful daughters. There aren’t many girls who work with their mums, or would even want to! But I have three intelligent, beautiful, strong women alongside me and I love it.  

This past year, we have been up-levelling the business – working alongside a branding expert and PR team to ensure we are positioning ourselves differently.  We’ve already launched a brand new website, which is more appealing, less intimidating and more user friendly than many others in the industry. 

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

There are so many things I could mention, resilience being vital. But the longer I run this business the more significant it has become to me, that the major factor in achieving success has been ‘to be myself, freshen up the industry, create careers and, of course, protect people.’ 

I have a wealth of experience but that doesn’t mean I need to be aloof and difficult to connect with. I’m absolutely passionate about providing the best possible advice in a really accessible way, to everyone who wants it, irrespective of their bank balance and post code. I work with multi-million pound clients, to established businesses, to those just starting their career and everyone in between. I run an excellent service, heart led and with the client at the centre, with an incredible team and we’re doing it our unique way.

I’ve been described as “bold, blunt & brilliant” – “a financial wonder woman” by those who have benefited from my expertise and straight-talking advice. I am ‘down-to-earth’ & if we’re going to make this sector more accessible, that’s exactly what’s needed and plenty more of it!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? 

I believe mentoring is absolutely vital – I personally have a few different mentors and coaches and I am also a mentor/coach for others in my industry. A lot of women and a few men have reached out to me and I just love to help them by kicking out my mistakes and keeping and copying my successes.  

I want to set new industry standards and develop a network of ethical, straight-talking, down-to-earth insurers like myself who provide a fabulous service. These past few months I have been moving into coaching and mentoring other advisers, to incorporate the ethics of their trade as well as providing the very best in services and products.  I want to help bring more women into the industry which is less than 20% currently at adviser level or above and diversify with different ages and nationalities.  When done correctly, it’s a wonderful industry to be with a meaningful result. 

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Boldly breaking through stereotypes. 

Purposefully, I’m not your archetypal be-suited number-cruncher in stereotyped grey suits, I’m a strong woman who wears pink and red! Why? Because, I am fighting against the image of the protection world in order to make it less intimidating and more welcoming.  I’m just being me. 

I am a huge advocate for ensuring more young-people and women enter the industry. Women need to know they can be successful in roles in finance and that it is changing from being just a man’s world. It doesn’t stop there though, if I can help different nationalities and ages too enter this industry and have a meaningful career, now that really would be something.  Let’s get our industry awash with diversity so that the clients we help find someone they relate to and more diverse section of the UK have the cover they really need because they’ve found someone to relate to. 

I am passionate about continuing to share my story – via PR, marketing, networking, talking in schools/community-centres… about a career in finance, to appeal to these demographics. 

I also feel there needs to be a change in financial education – like I have done with my three daughters, we have to encourage our children to become financially astute and educate them and help them to become trailblazers for the young people of the future! 

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Educate yourself financially, work hard and then protect yourself properly. 

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

My future plans are even bigger than my history! I want to scale up and help protect more families and people. I want to mentor mortgage and protection advisers so that together we can run fantastic businesses and look at the ethical reasons behind what we’re doing. 

I’m also determined to get money management into the curriculums into our schools. We owe it to our children to teach them because it protects them in the long run and opens up a whole new world of opportunity at the same time. We must equip future generations on how to make money, keep money, manage money, duplicate money and my speciality PROTECT money. 

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