April's broker of the month is James Ashe, the Head of Relationship Management. James is a multi-lingual force to be reckoned with; he brings passion, energy, and unrivalled knowledge of the high-value property market to his team.
It all started at school, where I developed a deep fondness for the Russian language and culture. My attachment to other European cultures was cemented further in my 20s, when I spent time living in St Petersburg as well as a spell in Bordeaux. As something of an extrovert, I was set on a career where I could apply my love of foreign cultures in a client-facing and client-oriented setting. Upon graduation from university, I was approached for a role as a trainee international mortgage broker in a small London-based mortgage brokerage; I knew, without doubt, this would be the perfect first step in my career, and accepted the role with no hesitation.
I enjoy both the back and front office aspects of my role – but overall, I favour the customer-facing elements. Concerning the back-office work, I take satisfaction from analysing and crunching new business data for various management reports – it’s curiously cathartic work. But as head of Enness’s front of house operations, my main source of enjoyment comes from the initial calls with prospects considering the use of our services. I love hearing their stories, hearing their goals, and making that first crucial step to winning them over as potential clients of the company.
My key strengths as Head of Relationship Management lie in my ability to juggle the various different features of the role. As well as drumming up new business for our mortgage brokers, I am tasked with training my team, and ensuring they remain highly-motivated to deal with new lending enquiries in an efficient and comprehensive manner – in line with Enness’s high-level standards of service.
As a former international broker myself, I keep a keen and watchful eye on the European property financing market; as such, I’ve had the great pleasure of contributing to Enness’s various international property financing guides – including the Luxury French Property Guide released in March this year. Enness broke into the European HNW mortgage space significantly earlier than our contemporaries (most of whom still shy away from the non-resident international mortgage market), and it’s very fulfilling to contribute to our ever-growing international expansion.
The most striking observation to me is how little the ongoing pandemic has appeared to have negatively impacted the property financing market. No doubt there were hiccoughs at the beginning, with some lenders temporarily withdrawing from the market or restricting their loan-to-values - but such adverse market conditions have ended up rather short-lived. Bank underwriting and valuations have continued largely as normal, and we have completed a multitude of medium and high-level transactions for our clients throughout the whole of the last year.
It’s a question I’ve thought about many times before; my dream would be to own a villa on one of the French Polynesian islands. I see French Polynesia as a perfect blend between the wild beauty, mystery and enigma of the Pacific Islands, with the cultural wealth and values of France. Barriers of entry for property ownership remain high – with non-European buyers requiring government authorization for any foreign investment. That said, with my mother being French, I have both a French and a UK passport – so the first hurdle is cleared and the dream remains very much alive!