Signing a major contract that will allow GMAC-RFC to outsource its
post-completion processing is about as close as this sales and
marketing director will get to having a baby.
A few false starts, much pain and suffering over a protracted period
and eventually the joy of delivering the signed document. As I sit
here in the local hostelry with my colleagues, my thoughts drift back
over the past week.
Day one of week 37 dawns and we are in a hotel to conclude
negotiations on key commercial terms. My potential client and I feel
that death is preferable to a further page turn of an 80-odd-page
contract plus appendices. The document pile is two inches high and
My client needs to attend a board meeting. I therefore have to
referee a period of legal posing and point-scoring. I didn't know
that you could dispute the drafting of a force majeur definition for
over an hour.
My mind drifts to the flight dynamics of lawyers ejected from seventh
Our client returns and most commercial points are concluded. It is
their turn to make these changes and the partner from their lawyers
volunteers his assistant for a spot of overtime for the night and
Day two of week 37 and I am back in the office – the promised draft
of the contract has not appeared.
My potential client calls to say another set of solicitors need to
review the documents – this is not a good idea.
I content myself with working on the communication plan and drafting
announcements and releases – at least the lawyers will not want to
see these, or so I thought.
My lawyer comes to tell me about the reason for the delay – their
lawyer's IT system has broken down and there is no contingency. It is
a good job that we take it seriously.
Day three of week 37 and we have a draft contract. Inevitably, a
couple of changes have been made. I ring my client to agree these
before telling the lawyers. We have a conference call but every 10
minutes the connection to the lawyers fails. This telephone system is
about as reliable as their IT. We think we have finally agreed but
the lawyers want to check through one final time. We agree to sign at
Day four of week 37 and today is the day but one or two more things
need sorting. I am quite stressed.I need to get it signed. My lawyer
tells me there is a problem and we row. I am now totally wound up and
I try to get the MD on my side but she has beaten me to it. He says
he will sort it out.
He rings the client and concessions are made both ways – it is back
on again – but for noon. At 11.45am the lawyers agree they cannot
get the paperwork ready for noon so they agree 1pm. Total frustration
rules. My chairman turns up for a meeting with the MD that will have
to be interrupted. 12.55pm arrives with a call from the client to say
their MD has been called to an urgent meeting, we agree 1.30pm.
1.35pm – no call, 1.40pm no call. 1.45pm the call is made, we sign
the counterparts and the deal is done by fax.
Day five of week 37 and total anti-climax – yesterday's high has
gone, I have had the baby and the contract has been delivered.
So what has nine months done for HML? We are well on the way to
becoming a £20bn player by the year-end and doubling revenue
over the next five years. We have achieved our ambition of becoming a
credible solution to much bigger lenders and we have enough enquiries
to be able to pick and choose. It was said recently that the market
is not yet ready for mortgage outsourcing, I really cannot agree. If
you understand the market dynamics and client needs, it is quite warm
in the birthing pool.
Tim Fletcher is sales and marketing director of HML