60 seconds with…Jas Jaspal

How are you coping in the downturn?

We\'ve been cutting our cloth accordingly. For those who know me this will almost sound unbelievable but I\'m actually focussing on work. We were on a recruitment drive last September but that\'s gone the other way.

Coventry has always been a bit of a buy-to-let hotspot and during the boom years about 70% to 80% of our business was mortgage related, with buy-to-let and remortgages the driving force behind that. But just 10% of our business is mortgage related.

What changes to the business have you had to put in place?

We’ve recently downsized. Our original building was larger than we needed and we had banked on renting out the ground floor. But now we’ve put the whole building up for rent and moved to a much smaller building close to Coventry Cathedral. We did have 23 full-time employees, that’s now down to seven and we’ve gone from 33 advisers down to 13. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times.

What will get the market started?

The economic situation is out of our control. It’s going to take innovation to kickstart the market. I’ve heard talk of bringing back mortgage indemnity guarantees for lenders and it’s ideas like this that will bring life back to the mortgage sector. Like other brokers we’ve had no shortage of enquiries. We have plenty of applicants who would have no difficulty in servicing the loan but lenders simply don’t want to lend.

Are valuations stacking up?

Valuations and revaluations are laughable. Valuers are nervous nowadays. They were a little overconfident in the past but like an elastic band have snapped back the other way. One clients’ property was valued at £1m two years ago but dropped to £650,000 – despite a number of significant improvements that had been made. It’s ludicrous.

What’s working for you at the moment?

We’ve been forced to return to our roots but that’s not been a bad thing – our skill set has gone up. The part of our business that is really exciting is where we are going on the IFA investment side and the risk analysis we’re doing when it comes to asset allocation. There are going to be winners in this market and I for one want to be on the winning side.