This is the first of our new quarterly blog by our CEO, Islay Robinson, detailing the inner workings of Enness Private Clients, Mayfair based high net worth mortgage brokerage. This is part of our drive to continue to improve our service to you – our clients. We really hope you enjoy reading this overview of our summer and join us as both we and the marketplace move into autumn.
It’s been a busy few weeks for us here – we’ve been tying up the end of a sleepy(ish) summer and completing some very significant deals. On the marketing side we’ve been working out a site map for some new sectors we are planning to enter. On the accounting side we’ve been busy tying up our financial year end. We’ve also been focusing on a sizable (for us) recruitment drive and preparing for the ever increasing level of enquiries we are seeing.
As a boutique firm and a high net worth mortgage brokerage, we are a relatively small company, when compared to some of the ‘big players’ in the industry who’ve been around for much longer. Unlike ,them we are 100% owned by the 3 shareholders, have no external debt and we have built our company using income only.
Also, given we occupy a prime office in one of the most expensive areas in the world we haven’t got bundles of space – we need to be efficient with space and money alike.
We are constantly watching the market and are aware of the inherent threats that it presents – many brokers fell away drastically in the last recession. We don’t claim to be recession proof but we do things cautiously and with one eye on the “what if”.
For these reasons we take recruiting very seriously – we want the right people and they need to fill specific roles which create value for not only us, but our clients. We all need to get on together, which is a challenge when everyone is working such long hours in a busy and sometimes pressured environment!
One thing which the market is struggling with is the recruitment of good mortgage brokers. The number of brokers fell after the credit crunch, there was a severe shortage of training and the reputation of the industry took a bit of a drubbing. As a result, there are very few established and competent brokers around and given the competitiveness of the market, money is being thrown around to collect talent.
We have reacted to this by looking to the future and have started a very carefully planned training path for talented graduates to join us – work in all aspects of the company, do their industry exams and training ‘our way’ with a view to developing as excellent brokers. Our clients will start to come across them as they interact with all parts of our firm.
We are still looking for great brokers to join us and deal with the ever increasing lead and transaction volume we are generating in the high net worth space but they need to be the right brokers. Until then our new, energetic trainees will help us fulfil our clients’ million pound mortgage requirements.
It’s been a great few months business-wise with some stellar transactions coming out of our growing and influential ‘specialist lending’ department. Our Head of Commercial Finance – Chris Whitney has, for example, completed one of the most impressive restaurants refinances we’ve ever heard of and has also negotiated our biggest loan this year with a multi-million pound hotel deal. We have also added Robert Heywood to our team who is vastly experienced in the bridging market space and we are expecting some great things from – the 900k second charge bridge to credit repair a very well-known client is the first one!
On the residential side, Charlie Arnold tops our leader boards for total lending this year and for helping the most clients to successfully purchase a million pound plus property. However, we are watching Antonio Michael’s ascent with interest as he’s been working on some interesting transactions; including non-UK based Russians, very high value residential property and even a swathe of second charge mortgages.
On the lender side we have added four new banks to our panel – one is a very exciting ‘high net worth complex prime’ bank (we will be one of only 5 brokers in the country who have access to this lender). The second is a European bank offering some great terms (and high amounts) with assets under management and the other two are brand new to the UK market and will lend on complex and high value commercial, investment and residential transactions.
We expect to see a good number of new entrants to the market and as the above demonstrates, we will always be at the front of the queue to add them to our ever growing list of contacts.
I have already mentioned Robert Heywood and also talked about our recruitment and growth plans. However, over the last 3 months we have made some key additions – Maria Deschamps to our residential team, Chloe Lawrence as Client Liaison Manager, Laura Toke and Susannah Preston as Para-Planners, Shaun Richardson as Insurance Consultant and Mikaela Aschim as PA & Office Manager – welcome to all.
A lot of our estate agent friends are reporting a continued subdued market at the high end (£5m plus). We agree with this and don’t expect much to change until the election next year, a calming taxation agenda (especially mansion tax) and perhaps for Sterling to weaken a touch.
We are, however, very busy in the £1-5 million pound bracket and continue to be dealing with ‘specialist residential’, bridging and commercial business tractions. You will see much more from us in these areas over the next months as their value in the market continues to grow.
One major market we are looking forward to is the return of the “remortgage”. Lenders are in the midst of a mini price war, fixed rates are very low after a softening of swap rates and with increasing talk of base rate movement surely we will start to see a competitive refinance market for the first time in nearly 5 years.
One risk to this is mortgage lender capacity (especially after recent changes by the city watchdog) and, also, the availability of mortgage values – we have already seen one lender start to use ‘automated valuations’ to cope with demand. If you are considering a remortgage, either to secure your monthly payments or to release equity my advice is to start looking now, and also to look out for our million pound remortgage guide which will be released in October.