While I was overwhelmed by how positively some of my peers reacted to the news, I was disappointed by the cynicism of others. Some even implied that we must have made the figures up because no packager could be doing that well in the prevailing market conditions.
I’m a simple guy and I look at things in an uncluttered way. When I launched the firm in January 2006 I looked at the role packagers were playing in the mortgage market.
It was apparent to me then that most of them were focussed almost solely on the sub-prime market. But I always wanted my business to be different so besides adverse we looked for prime, buy-to-let and self-cert partners like Bristol & West too.
I wanted a blended product mix that wasn’t over-reliant on any one area. I must add that I had no crystal ball and didn’t foresee the credit crunch.
Over the next two years we aggressively drove our processing costs down with better working practices and a high reliance on technology. When the credit crunch began and sub-prime started to tumble we were one of the first packagers to make redundancies and did so as early as September last year. At the time others criticised us for being alarmist but subsequent events have proved us right.
We recently carried out a second wave of redundancies, this time focussed largely on our senior management team.
Friends of mine that had been with my businesses for years lost their jobs but as a result we have been able to strengthen our customer services team – every director who went allowed me to employ three extra staff.
In a nutshell, it wasn’t luck that allowed us to achieve our record month. We’ve had to make horrible, tough and often controversial decisions to thrive in this hostile environment. I don’t think there will be too many short-term winners as a result of the credit crunch and I wouldn’t class our firm as one. But there will be survivors and everything we’re doing is geared towards survival.
As a respected colleague said to me recently, firms that survive the downturn will inherit the market and we intend to be one of them.