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Correspondant&#39s Week

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&#39t 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

floor windows.

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&#39s 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

10.30am tomorrow.

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&#39s 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


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