View more on these topics

Kevin Duffy on mortgages

Deadlines are such that this piece had to be written before B&B announced who its preferred Charcol buyer might be so, at the risk of making some clumsy predictions, here is what my crystal ball tells me.

One sure thing is that an MBO can be discounted. I sense an unwillingness on the part of the vendor to surrender the business to its management at what might be a wholly unattractive price. A cooling agency market, potential and unknown endowment-related liabilities and unconcluded post-N4 costs may have already deflated the initially hoped for sale price .

If recent speculation is well founded, the agency, surveying and brokerage businesses will be bundled together. The prospect of a sale to the likes of Countrywide, Spicer McColl or Direct Valuations may see Charcol adopted by a foster-parent, with far-reaching repercussions for its staff and clientele.

I have suggested that arriving at an empirical valuation of Charcol is tricky. I envy its undoubted brand potency and its two technical galacticos, Ray Boulger and Walter Avrilli. Notwithstanding some recent consultant attrition, there is still a nucleus of 20 or so prodigious consultants at the company but will all these want to remain put under the new regime?

Which leads me to conclude that the new buyer will have three options as to what direction to take. First, develop the Charcol brand name, retaining its individual sovereignty, second, sell the business on once again, having used it purely as a makeweight in the deal this time around, or, third, aggregate it with an existing (and likely lesser established?) brand.

If Rob Clifford&#39s Mortgageforce (Direct Valuations) wins the bid, then the prospect of the former being rebranded as Charcol and integrated with the existing Mortgageforce proposition across, say,500 high streets is a tantalising thought.

Such a strategy would also be a bad omen for the likes of the nil-fee brigade such as Purely Mortgages as a venture of this size would surely seek to replicate its call centre and fulfilment model but with the best brand name in the business.

Curiouser last week were suggestions that GMAC-RFC were bidding. In some ways, if I was one of the aforementioned galacticos, this would be the dream ticket. In Stephen Knight and Messrs Blight and Searle, Charcol could resuscitate under strong and charismatic leadership. That said, I do not see it happening. GMAC-RFC is a success story because it keeps things simple and avoids high maintenance projects.

In many ways, Charcol is in the last-chance saloon. It has had five owners in less than 10 years. In its halcyon days of the last decade, it did not have so many mortgage clubs competing with it for the best products. As a colleague summised last week, persistent surgery ultimately saps a beautiful woman&#39s essence. A trout with a pout it ain&#39t but something tells me that within two years, it will be back under the surgeon&#39s knife.

Kevin Duffy is managing director of Hamptons International Mortgages


Lighthouse in bid to rescue Lifeboat

Lighthouse Group is believed to be in advanced negotiations with the administrators of Lifeboat to acquire the stricken IFA and mortgage broker. Sesame and Destini have both been in talks with Lifeboat about buying all or parts of the business but negotiations have not progressed. Tenet Group pulled out of talks a week ago after […]

Independent view

What makes a good adviser? It is quite a hard question to answer because it is not a tangible and uniform attribute. What makes an adviser successful with a particular client group may not translate to success in another. Turning back the clock and recalling how it was in early days when you have been […]

PYSS to administer MW Pensions Sipp

Pointon York Sipp Solutions has been appointed to administer pension consultancy and independent trustee company MW Pensions&#39 Sipp. MW Pensions will be targeting the corporate and property Sipp marketplace in the run-up to A-day. PYSS managing director Christine Hallett says: “We are delighted to be working with a team of professional individuals who have the […]

Man structure RMF style product

Man Investment has introduced Man RMF Multi-Style Series 2, a capital-protected fund of hedge funds that is available in dollar and euro currencies. This product is designed to perform independently of bond and equity markets by investing in a range of hedge fund strategies such as equity hedge, even-driven, relative value and managed futures. It […]

Solving the income puzzle

There is a puzzle at the centre of financial markets. The global economy is growing, there are signs of inflation and interest rates are going up, yet yields remain low. In this article, James Foster, manager of the Artemis Monthly Distribution fund, unpicks this conundrum and looks at where investors can find income. There is […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm