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Knights’ moves will change the game

It’s all change for the Knights at GMAC-RFC but it’s more likely to be a case of Simon building on the strong foundations Stephen has laid than a fresh start for the company, says Mark Harris

Since we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, it’s natural for us to think about longevity and continuity. Faces have come and gone in the company – and in some cases come back again – but the firm as a whole has expanded dramatically in the past decade.

Elsewhere in the market, there has been a lot of movement among senior personnel in recent months, prompting me to wonder how much a company changes when the top person leaves.

Their replacement usually wants to make their mark and this might in-volve making radical changes. In fact, if an organisation is failing, there is a strong likelihood that the replacement has been recruited to make radical changes and put it back on track.

But what happens when a company has enjoyed plenty of success and it’s time for a change of personnel at the most senior level? Successful people can be difficult to replace.

I don’t think there’s much to worry about at GMAC-RFC where one Knight – Stephen – is leaving in September, to be replaced by another – Simon. Should we be worried that the new Knight won’t be able to fill the shoes of the departed one?

Stephen has worked hard to make GMAC-RFC what it is today. It is a sizeable company – firmly established as one of the UK’s top 10 lenders. But more importantly, it has been at the forefront of product and IT innovation under Stephen’s stewardship. In many areas, where the lender has led, the rest of the market has followed. It hasn’t always been plain sailing but Stephen has done a fine job steering the company to where it is today.

Of course, he hasn’t done this on his own and this is where Simon comes in. It may be all change at GMAC-RFC in terms of a new chief executive but the reality is that Stephen’s successor is from within the company, and the pair have worked together for 17 years.

Simon will have his own ideas and want to make his mark on the company but not at the cost of the lender’s reputation. His promotion should be well received by brokers as there’s no reason the company should not deliver more of what it’s good at.

I imagine Simon will take Stephen’s foundations and build on them. Creativity must continue to be to the fore – there is so much competition in the industry that lenders must work hard to stand out from their rivals.

It remains to be seen whether Stephen’s chauffeur or the box at Tottenham Hotspur come with the top job at the lender. I look forward to working with Simon but I’m happy to keep the trips to White Hart Lane to a minimum.


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