We talked to Gary Latham of UK Property Finance about property development finance and here is what he said about it.
How are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gary Latham: Our family has had to adapt like most others. It has been all change, but no point complaining, it is what it is…
About you, your career, how you founded UK Property Finance.
Gary Latham: After a successful career in manufacturing & following completion of my MBA and mortgage qualifications, CeMAP and CeRER, I have owned and been director of various financial services, estate agency & property businesses. As such, I believe that I have expansive knowledge in everything property and property finance-related, more latterly in the specialist & niche financial sector.
I founded UK Property Finance in 2014, which is a directly FCA authorized and regulated brokerage specializing in bridging, development, second charge, specialist mortgages, commercial and equity release mortgages. Due to the size and performance of the business, UK Property Finance attracts preferential interest rates & schemes for its clients and enhanced commission payments, which are shared 50:50 with business introducers.
I also own and manage a privately funded lender, UK Bridging Loans, specializing in rapid completions in areas not covered by more mainstream lenders.
Additionally, I own and manage a medium-sized property investment company with assets throughout the UK.
I take a great deal of pride in always doing what I think is right and providing high value for money, levels of service.
How does UK Property Finance innovate?
Gary Latham: Despite a strong and truthful customer review mechanism, we never accept that our performance is good enough. We analyze and look for improvements in everything that we do & spend heavily on marketing and the latest technology.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Gary Latham: Our individual companies attract clients from online advertising and rarely meet face to face, so if anything, lead numbers for us has increased during Covid-19. The main negative, however, has been the vastly different ways in which our suppliers have handled the pandemic, especially homeworking, and as such, this will be a factor used by us to select future business partners.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding HR, and what are the lessons learned?
Gary Latham: No. We did not furlough or make redundancies. Our roles, however, all require high levels of lengthy training, and we were restricted in recruitment as the training times for any new starts were extended beyond normal as our trainers were predominantly home working. We have already started to dissect the jobs to ensure easier recruitment for the future.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Gary Latham: All our systems can be accessed remotely, with the correct passcodes, so very little changed when our staff were home working. We normally deal online with our clients, so no change on that front. However, we did develop a video calling function for anyone wanting to communicate visually.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Gary Latham: We accessed a grant as we were unsure how the situation would pan out, but it was unused and has been repaid.
Any final comments?
Gary Latham: More than anything, we have learnt that home working is perfectly possible provided you have the correct external partners, technology, and staff. However, the best of both worlds is a mix of office, and home working as this enables the team to still flourish and stay connected even though sometimes they are not always in the office together.
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