Cathy Bowes: Seeing mortgage deals through new eyes
Name: Cathy Bowes
Role: Mortgage Underwriter with Bridgewater Bank
Years worked in financial services: 35+
Work location: Calgary
Superpower: X-ray vision
Cathy has worked in financial services for over 35 years, with client-facing and leadership roles. She brings a wealth of experience to her role as an underwriter in our Calgary office. It’s almost like she has x-ray vision—she gets a gut feeling when assessing an application and can see things others may not have considered.
Starting out in finance
Q: When did you first enter the financial services industry?
Cathy: I started with a bank pretty much right after high school, first working in bank branches, then in branch support roles. This is where I learned about mortgages and underwriting.
Q: Why did you decide to work in the mortgage industry?
Cathy: Early in my banking career, I developed an interest in credit by seeing how the credit managers enjoyed their roles. I always liked the credit aspect of banking and finding creative solutions to people’s unique situations. It’s nice to help people finance large purchases, and buying a home is the largest purchase anyone will ever make. It’s my passion to help people fulfil their dreams of home ownership.
A natural transition alternative lending
Q: How did you end up at Bridgewater Bank?
Cathy: I have worked at various financial institutions, including credit unions. Most of my career was spent in this type of environment. Almost four years ago, I shifted gears and entered the mortgage broker world, learning so much more about mortgages and the variety of products available. Bridgwater Bank is a place I’ve had my eye on for years. It is a workplace I knew I would settle into, and this is really based on the culture the bank has created. When the right opportunity came up, I knew I would be a great fit for this role. I’m so happy to be here. I’ve been here since April 2023, and it feels like home. We are family!
Q: What is your alternative lending experience?
Cathy: My first exposure to finding ways to make a deal work was in the credit union system. They are not alternative lenders, but they did have a little more flexibility than the big banks. I appreciated that even more when I was a broker trying to help people find a mortgage that worked for them. I found alternative lending companies helpful.
Q: What’s your favourite part of being an underwriter?
Cathy: I look at things from a risk-based approach and analyze each unique situation to see if we can find a way to make it work while mitigating that risk. I enjoy solving puzzles, so when I look at a file, I can see the aspects that add strength to the mortgage application.
On a personal note
Q: What’s your best childhood memory?
Cathy: I love family and trips to the Okanagan in the summer, where I played on the beach and spent a lot of time in the water. I think I was born to be near water. That’s always where I am most content.
Q: What’s your most treasured item?
Cathy: I tend not to have monetary treasures but I am proud of my sketching portfolio. I draw with graphite and coloured pencils—pet and people portraits, some skylines and landscapes. Over time, I’ve grown more skilled. It is nice to see the progress through the sketches over the years. Also, it takes me to a place of serenity and helps me to unwind. I really enjoy it.
Q: If we asked your best friend to describe you, what would they say?
Cathy: I’m loyal. I have an unwavering commitment to my friends. I have long-term friendships in my life, and we’re always there for each other.
Q: What’s a skill you’d like to learn and why?
Cathy: I’d like to learn to play guitar or piano—two instruments I’ve always enjoyed listening to and am drawn to. When you come across something that makes you excited, it’s a good indication it’s something you may want to try. On a different note, I support the Alberta Guide Dog Association; I’d like to volunteer as a puppy raiser.
Q: Any final thoughts to share about your job?
Cathy: Alternative lenders in Canada have an important role to play in mortgage lending. While I was a broker, I saw the other side—the struggle to qualify people while interest rates climbed and debt levels increased. I became a supporter of alternative lenders. Right now, even strong mortgage loan applications can be turned down by traditional banks. Lenders like Bridgewater give people a chance to realize their home ownership dreams.
Learn more about our other expert underwriters here to help you.