The harder you work the luckier you become

It was a week when the unthinkable happened. If you\'d asked me a week ago which lenders I\'d have described as sound I would certainly have mentioned HBOS.

I for one could never have imagined the mighty HBOS being taken over by Lloyds TSB, but then I’m a mere mortal so what do I know?

I mentioned recently that I felt sorry for all the HBOS BDMs who had to reapply for their jobs. Now those BDMs, along with an even larger number of HBOS employees and possibly Lloyds TSB ones too, are facing an even more uncertain future. The speed with which this has happened is frightening.

I have concerns about the fact that competition rules have been waived to save HBOS from take it over when it was refused permission to buy Abbey several years ago.

That said, I realise we are in uncharted waters. Perhaps smaller parts of the organisation will be sold off or demerged later to bring market share within competition rules, although I worry that borrowers will effectively be told to like it or lump it. Two weeks ago I wrote about a young broker with only six months in our industry who had been forced to call it a day.

Meanwhile, one long-standing broker I know has closed his doors and gone off to sell cars and another similarly established chap is passing his client bank onto another firm. Neither can take any more, financially or emotionally.

While BDMs have been being laid off for much of this year, I recently heard of a particularly unfortunate woman who had taken the decision to leave GMAC-RFC and gone to ill-fated firm The Mortgage Business.

She then moved to Halifax and now faces redundancy. In spite of GMAC-RFC’s lack of deals, she’d have been better off staying put – a sad irony.

My sympathy lies with all these individuals and their colleagues.

But economies go in cycles and ours is facing recession.

US economist Alan Greenspan last week described the present crisis as a once in a century event and I see his point. The 1929 Wall Street Crash must have felt similar at the time. But because we live in a technological age the recent goings-on have occurred incredibly swiftly and so are even more shocking.

But in the end it comes down to the survival of the fittest. That, I fear, is the nature of business. All we can do is keep grafting, networking, exploring every income opportunity and holding on by our fingernails.

Meanwhile, I wish all those struggling or waiting to hear news all the best.

But remember, in the jungle we have to develop survival strategies, so simply enjoying your gardening leave while waiting for something to turn up is not an option. The harder you work the luckier you become.