According to the Smithsonian Institute, the earliest known examples of tattoo art came from the mummified Iceman discovered on the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 – meaning human beings have been getting inked for at least 5,200 years.
However, despite the fact that millions of people have tattoos – and have had for millennia – brokers showing off full sleeves to conservative clients are likely to be met with reactions ranging from discomfort to outright disdain. Or are they?
Mortgage industry stalwart and self-professed e-learning guru, Kym Dalton, (as well as our own esteemed editor, Adam Smith), sports multiple tattoos on both his arms. Dalton says that, while he doesn’t make a point of ‘advertising’ them, his tattoos often work as a fantastic talking point.
"I’ve got an entire sleeve. I was really, really, reticent to [show them off at work] initially and then I became less so. Now it’s almost like a talking piece. It’s actually sort of become like a marketing tool, which I never would have expected.”
FBAA president, Peter White, is another well-known industry figure who’s got multiple tattoos – though, like Dalton’s, none of them are visible under normal work attire.
“They were specifically done so that if I’m wearing, say, a polo shirt for industry, unless the shirt rides up a bit you wouldn’t see them. I’ve done them deliberately so that they’re not directly visible from a business point of view.”
Both White and Dalton stress that the type of tattoo a broker has is important. While animals and artistic pieces aren’t likely to put clients and industry peers on edge, violent or overtly sexual designs are a different story. For his part, Dalton says each of his tattoos were carefully thought-out and heavily reflect his passion for modern art. Works by artists including Roy Lichtenstein and Alexander Calder make an appearance, along with some more playful characters.
“Everyone has a hobby and golf isn’t for me. One of my heroes is Dr Seuss (Theodore Geisel) – he had the drive and determination to revolutionise the world of children’s literacy and I’m hoping to emulate what he achieved in my area of financial literacy. Hence the Cat in the Hat makes an appearance on my arm in homage to him.”
White’s consist of symbols and philosophies from his time spent as a Bushido martial arts teacher.
Dalton says he doesn’t make a point of showing off his ink, but doesn’t go out of his way to hide it either.
“Do I flash them? No. Am I as cautious as I used to be? No…I’m not particularly overly-conscious of keeping them secret. Make sure they are artistic. If requested to show them, I will. Strangely enough, because tattoos are now ‘cool’ and because of my persona, I can actually use them to a quirky marketing advantage.”
“Tattoos once were seen as being possessed by sailors and ne’er-do-wells. Now, you would be very surprised who has tattoos in the industry - some of whom are just more shy about it than others.”