While sitting here deciding what to write, I recall the phone-ins on Soccer AM when it would list around five topics that you were not allowed to discuss. I feel that is probably where I should begin.
There is absolutely no chance that this is going to be about M-Day as I am sure that somebody interesting is going to beat me to it.
Neither will I be mentioning lenders' variable rates. I think I have had my money's worth on that topic. Nor will I enter into the world of buy to let or interest-only mortgages – scandalous – and under no circumstances shall I give my view on interest rates, be they bank base rates, swaps or Libor (Jonathan Cornell is the man who keeps us in the know).
“So,” I hear you say, “What are you going to write about?”
Well, I am afraid it has to be Charcol. Bearing in mind that I cut my teeth in the mortgage market at John Charcol – as it was called when I joined in 1994 – I feel determined to have my say.
You probably think I am about to sound off about Charcol but that is not the case. I am still none the wiser as to what is going to happen to it and I am not going to start bad-mouthing it now. What I would like to point out, however, is the fact that Charcol was the breeding ground for some of the most successful brokers in the country who now run very successful companies.
My managing director, Mark Harris, left NatWest and put in 20 months of hard graft (try do anything else with John Garfield on your case 24/7) before being part of the team that set up Savills Private Finance, including Mike Boles, Stuart Robinson (both ex-Charcol) and Mark Chilton. Simon Jones, one of our directors who no doubt you see in the press quite often, is another and so too is Alex King, our operations director who started at Charcols as an administrator and troubleshooter back in 1994.
But this is not just about Savills Private Finance. Have a look at Hamptons. Managing director Kevin Duffy and director James Rodea both plied their trade at Charcol.
Richard Taylor, managing director at Chelsea Mortgage Management, James Perkins, in the same position at Kingsway, Julian Ingle and Andrew Drummond, both directors at Cobolt, Simon Holdsworth, managing director at Towry Law, Andrew Garber and Jonathan Horler, both directors at Inter-Alliance, Keith Scott of, um…..No, you're right, that is enough.
So what is my point? Do I have one or am I just writing down a load of names and titles and taking up space? Well, trust me, it is not difficult to follow.
We all owe a lot to Charcol – the above is not coincidence – and, no, I do not have a guilt complex, just a heart. There are consultants, administrators and managers there now that will look to achieve what has been done by the talented individuals above. However, time is ticking by and this is having an adverse effect on the employees of Charcol, not to mention the reputation of the company as a whole.
There is nothing worse than not knowing what is going on and the sooner the Charcol question can be put to bed, the better for the staff and all of us.
As we all know, it is the employees who make up the company. They are the backbone and they will drive the company forward. Look after them and success will follow. Ignore them at your peril.
This is one hell of a big marketplace and competition is healthy.
Tom Bland is an associate at Savills Private Finance