I’m always intrigued by the way other businesses are run – sometimes I look at a successful firm and think, ‘That’s the polar opposite of what we do here’ but it clearly works and, of course, everyone is different and will tackle the challenges they face in a different way.
The wonderful thing about our industry is that it is open and allows different approaches to work, even if they might be rather different to the market ‘norm’. Having said that, there (to my mind) are still some fundamentals which will give you a far better chance of success and, at the heart of this, is the quality of the people that you have working for you.
Indeed, this can be the case whether you’re a one-man/woman band – and you’re the quality individual – or if you are a much larger firm that weaves its talent together and seeks to have the best possible people in the right position. And, given the recent start of the Premier League, I’m aware I’m sounding a little like a football manager/pundit here.
Now, of course, there are a lot of talented and experienced people working in the mortgage market, and they are much in demand, but sometimes you’re looking for that something extra. Fleet Mortgages has been recruiting for people in a number of roles recently, and a couple of those have been for very senior appointments, so I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who come with big reputations and have a strong track-record of success within a specific part of the market – mostly lending it has to be said.
That is fantastic, because any business will need these types of people in spades, but when you’re recruiting for some positions, you might feel you need a little bit more. In essence, you need those people who haven’t just excelled in a lender role, who haven’t just perhaps set up a small consultancy/business on their own, who haven’t just worked as an adviser or broker or at a large distributor, but you want someone who has done all of that and then some.
Because it’s these types of individuals who are able to see the whole market, in full 360-degree vision and provide a range of viewpoints depending on the challenge or problem they’re tackling. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately for them – this type of individual is not ten’a’penny in our marketplace. Indeed, just recently I sat down with some of my industry peer group and we talked about the benefits such people can bring to your business. We were really only able to name half a dozen or so – and they are well known in this market – who cover off the criteria mentioned above.
Needless to say, these individuals are working at the top of their profession and should they wish for a change of scenery or a different challenge, then they’re not going to be short of an opportunity or five. Which again makes the challenge of actually recruiting them even more difficult.
On the face of it, it sounds such an easy move – broker to lender, lender to broker, lender to distributor – but doing it, and making a huge success of it are two very different beasts. It may be something of an intangible quality but, for any firm recruiting at present and looking for the right candidate, having someone who has experience across the various ‘professions’ in the mortgage market will undoubtedly add considerable value to your business.
And for individuals weighing up their own career prospects, and who might have the opportunity to ‘jump ship’ or ‘move to the other side’, my advice is to seize that opportunity. Having the broadest depth of knowledge, insight, and experience is only going to benefit you, and you certainly make yourself more employable if you’ve proved yourself in various parts of this market.
The ability to place yourselves in others shoes, because you’ve been there and done it, is a huge advantage to your employment prospects and the business employing you. We should not underestimate the value these people can deliver, and the more individuals who can present this experience having worked both sides of the fence, the better for our businesses, but also the better for the industry as a whole.
Bob Young is chief executive officer of Fleet Mortgages