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Thinking Cleary: Happy staff mean happy customers

09 March 2016

The Sunday Times recently released its 16th annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, which includes six firms from the mortgage market.

The data gathering and analysis behind the list are extensive and the outcome is largely dictated by the firms’ employees, who fill out the survey. A total of 241,361 employees completed the survey this time around, answering questions about their firms and their bosses, whether they thought their rewards were fair and how much they felt their wellbeing was valued, among other things.

At the heart of these leading companies is culture. This is something many of the large banks have got wrong and, as such, it was no surprise to see none of them listed. By far the largest mortgage firm to win an award was Nationwide Building Society, which achieved an impressive third place in the large-employer category. According to the data, its 17,735 staff are well aware of the organisation’s strong social conscience.

In the mid-sized category, Charter Court Financial Services (also known as Precise Mortgages) came tenth. Founded in 2008 with just 27 staff, the company has grown to two divisions – a savings bank and a mortgage lender – and more than 300 employees. Staff rate the organisation highly, putting it in the top 10 for the categories of ‘fair deal’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘leadership’ and ‘my company’ .

They also say they are excited about where the business is going.

Skipton Building Society was a winner too, with employees considering the mutual to be run on strong values. Staff can put forward suggestions via an intranet forum and questions can be submitted to chief executive David Cutter. It is also possible to buy or sell up to two days’ paid leave a year in exchange for salary.

Also on the list was Just Retirement, with staff believing they could make a valuable contribution to the success of the organisation.

Meanwhile, Hanley Economic Building Society achieved success on the best small company list. Seventy-five per cent of the firm’s managers have been promoted internally. Their development has included external leadership and management courses and/or qualifications.

Last but not least, congratulations to Gopher Money, which was the only mortgage broking firm to claim a place in the list. The survey found the firm values the attitudes of its employees and aims to create a flexible workplace in which people feel motivated and supported. Founded five years ago, it now has 130 employees, with 90 per cent of them having been promoted internally. Staff feel they can speak out when things are going badly and they view bosses as role models.

I can speak only on behalf of ourselves but we spend a decent proportion of our company resources on ensuring our culture is one we are proud of. Underpinning everything we do are our ‘REACH’ behaviours: respect, excellence, attention, challenge and honesty. I suspect all the winning firms have something similar in place, as indeed do many of those not included in the list.

Notice there is no mention of business levels or profits. Obviously both are highly important but I expect that for most, if not all, of the winning firms, such factors are an outcome of having a great culture. After all, happy customers start with happy employees.

It would be great to see more mortgage firms in next year’s Sunday Times awards and I know many on the distribution side that would be worthy winners.

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Wolverhampton Firm Tops Sunday Times List

01 March 2016

Charter Court Financial Services (CCFS) which is based in Wolverhampton has been ranked tenth in The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For 2016.

The firm employs over 350 people at its headquarters in Wolverhampton Business Park and owns Charter Savings Bank, one of the UK’s leading challenger banks with over 40,000 savings accounts and balances in excess of £1.7billion since its launch in March 2015.

Over the past eight years CCFS has experienced unprecedented growth, and is a significant employer in the area. Since 2008 the workforce has grown from just 20 employees to 362.

Ian Lonergan, CEO of CCFS commented: “With the launch of Charter Savings Bank and developments in our mortgage business, the business has trebled in size in under two years. But we don’t want this growth to change how we do business or alter our friendly work environment. We have a fantastic team and we always look for ways to make work a more positive and rewarding experience for them so it’s great to have our efforts recognised by our employees and The Sunday Times. We are always on the lookout for more talented people to join our team and this award will undoubtedly help us achieve that in the future.”

The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work is a highly prestigious award which champions the importance of maintaining a happy and motivated workforce in successful high growth businesses.

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Precise Mortgages and Fluent Money Complete First MCD Second Charge Loan

26 February 2016

Precise Mortgages, the specialist lender which launched its MCD compliant platform on 15th February has paid out on its first MCD compliant second charge loan which was submitted by Fluent Money.

The second charge loan was for £175,000 at a rate of 4.55% per annum, giving an APRC of 5% and completed on 25th February 2016..

Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages says: “We were ready for MCD in plenty of time so it is business as usual as far as we are concerned and I am not surprised that Fluent Money were the first to get a loan paid out as they too have been ahead of the game..

Tim Wheeldon, Joint Managing Director at Fluent Money commented, “Preparation and cooperation between both ourselves and Precise Mortgages were the key components in ensuring this case completed without a hitch. There has been a lot of hard work on both sides, but MCD should hold no concerns for advisers and their clients when we can demonstrate that lenders and distributors, who are properly prepared, can complete cases just as quickly as before.”

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Precise Mortgages extends HMO criteria

25 February 2016

Precise Mortgages, the specialist lender which launched its first HMO mortgage products last month, has expanded its lending criteria to accept properties with up to eight bedrooms – an increase from the six accepted when the products were initially launched in January. Last month, the lender also launched Ltd Company products as well as improving its criteria for buy to let landlords in retirement.

Mortgage brokers can submit HMO and Ltd Company buy-to-let cases through authorised packagers, as well as direct with the lender.

Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages says: “Our specialist buy-to-let products have been really well received by mortgage intermediaries. In order to meet ongoing market demand, we are continuing to expand both our product range and lending criteria. Both professional and retired landlords will increasingly need specialist products as taxation plays a bigger role in their overall investment decisions.”

Doug Hall, Director of 3mc added: “It’s great to see a major specialist lender enter the HMO space. Precise Mortgages have launched into more new product areas so far this year than most lenders will do in an entire year. More choice and more competition equal good news for brokers and their customers. Also, it is great that these products are available via 3mc club as well as the packaged route.”

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4 new awards for Precise Mortgages

18 February 2016

We are delighted to announce that Precise Mortgages received four new awards at the recent Mortgage Strategy awards on 17th February for…

Best Specialist Lender

Best Short-term Bridging Lending

Best Secured Loan Lender

Mortgage Strategist of the Year - Alan Cleary, Managing Director

View more awards here.

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