June 28, 2013

David Gilman is the partner in charge of Blacks Connect


All businesses face risks and there are no guarantees for success. As brokers know only too well, market forces are often outside your control and can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.

It’s the same for conveyancers. As well as dealing with the economic woes of recent years, many firms are also feeling the pinch of a massive evolution in the sector. Conveyancing is steadily transforming from a cottage industry to one where specialist firms will dominate.

It’s a sad but inevitable truth that many high street law firms will struggle to operate in the sector as a result of these changes. According to a recent review by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, they are concerned about three key risks to their businesses – being thrown off lenders’ panels, being the victim of fraud or money laundering, and not being able to make ends meet.

These are all valid concerns for conveyancers, but they are not your problem.

Look after number one

It might sound harsh but your number one priority is your own business. If you partner with a conveyancing firm that faces serious risks then you are effectively taking on those risks yourself, and exposing your clients to them.

Of course there are no guarantees that any firm you decide to partner with will stay in business, never get hit by fraud and remain on all lenders’ panels, but you can massively increase your chances by opting for a specialist.

Firms that do a decent amount of business each month have strong relationships with lenders – big and small. They also tend to have extremely robust anti-fraud systems and processes in place, and many are not facing the financial hardships that smaller high street firms are sadly suffering (although some large firms may not be doing as well as you think!).

Where to start

Listen to word of mouth recommendations from other brokers for a trusted opinion on conveyancers, and if you like the look of one, don’t be afraid to ask questions of them. Most decent firms will be more than happy to explain their processes in detail in order to reassure a broker partner.

Also, quiz them about their business volumes and how they have changed in the last 12 months. Again, they should be willing to share this information, as it’s all publicly available through the Land Registry anyway. At Blacks Connect we like to see brokers taking an active interest in how we conduct our business, because it tells us a lot about how you conduct yours.

Perhaps you have a longstanding relationship with a local high street firm, and they may have served you well. Nobody is saying you need to desert them, but it can be useful to forge partnerships with other firms, testing their service on a handful of cases. This will ensure that, if something does happen to your long-term partner, you have other options already in place, ensuring continuity for your clients and for your business.

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