SPECIAL FEATURE: Capacity not the only issue

Ryan Fowler

July 29, 2014

One of the mantras which I have lived by for the last 30 years is not to spend too much time thinking about what your competitors are doing but concentrate rather on your own plans and strategy.

However appealing it can sometimes be to second guess or comment on competitors I have avoided that temptation and over the years it has stood me well.

No one knows or understands your business model as well as yourself and therefore trying to work out why a competitor does this or does that is missing a vital ingredient – knowledge of the business.

That piece of advice may perhaps be heeded by my competitors in the conveyancing market – particularly Emma Coffey, business development manager of Blacks Connect, who has made specific comments in a recent article about capacity in the conveyancing market and particular reference to our recent decision to refocus our conveyancing business to lender introduced work only.

Emma, who used to work for us and was a stalwart member of our business team for a number of years, moved to Blacks Connect some time ago. And whilst we wish her and Blacks Connect well (who are good friends of Goldsmith Williams both as competitors and colleagues through the Conveyancing Association) she really has no idea of what the business model or strategy of Goldsmith Williams is now and therefore might have been better advised to keep her counsel.

What Emma does not know because of her lack of proximity to today’s GW model is how sought after the specialist skills of the GW Property Department are and how we are fortunate that other emerging lenders are now approaching us to provide them with skills developed over the last four years dealing with the likes of Precise mortgages.

Of course I am delighted that the broker market has such a committed supporter and delighted that they provide and will continue to offer a first class service to the market.

The broker market, which Goldsmith Williams has worked with for some 30 years, deserves an excellent service from firms like Blacks Connect and I wish them well in their continued support of the market – long may that continue.

What Emma did not allude to which also has a bearing on the relationship of conveyancers to their mortgage intermediary introducers is that the property world has changed out of all recognition over the last seven years.

Emma will well remember those ‘ heady ‘ days prior to 2007 when it was a question of ‘pile em high and sell em cheap ‘ across the mortgage and conveyancing industry.

In those days it was how quick can the lender issue the offer and how quickly could the conveyancer complete what was then considered an administrative task.

The intermediary market was in control. When they asked a lender to jump it was a question of how high. I don’t think there can be anyone in the market now who thinks the hierarchy of control is still the same.

What lenders are looking at now is quality rather than quantity and woe betide any firm on a lender’s panel who does not take their responsibility to the lender seriously or they will be off the panel before they can say sorry.

It really is a changed world out there and it is quite clear that new lenders such as Precise Mortgages will not countenance errors or poor customer service from their conveyancers.

Blacks Connect, who are not on the Precise Mortgages panel, may not necessarily have such close strategic relationships with lenders but they know as well as anyone who is such a major player in the conveyancing market that they have two clients in each transaction – the lay client and the lender client and both need the same level of care and attention as the other.

So returning to Goldsmith Williams and our policy of refocusing to accept instructions only from lender introduced business and the reason or reasons for doing so.

Emma is of course right in that capacity is a factor – as indeed capacity has to be a factor in any business – whether conveyancer / mortgage broker or lender. Emma knows as well as anyone that taking on too much work only has one outcome – unhappy clients and unhappy introducers.

It is therefore a mature decision by any business to restrict their work inflow to that which they can comfortably manage – that is a cardinal rule of business.

What Emma has surmised as being the real reason behind the refocus is not capacity however but as we stated in our press release – that we want to utilise our specialist skills which we have honed over the last few years in dealing with the likes of Precise Mortgages to support their growth and to offer our expertise in dealing with short or long term lending on a separate representation or joint representation basis to other emerging lenders whilst maintaining a good level of service to existing lender clients.

We will of course continue to maintain good relationships with the broker and packager community through our lender relations. From that point of view nothing will change other than hopefully they will experience an even better service level than now.

What this exercise has done is reposition our offering to the mortgage industry – nothing more nothing less. We will continue to offer our specialist services alongside colleagues such as Blacks Connect and as such the needs and requirements of the various sectors of the property market will be best served.

That will be good for all concerned and involved.

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