One to One: Antony Lark, managing director, Just Mortgages

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Increasing headcount by a quarter in one year, launching a partnership with Openwork – and plans to recruit talented people with no FS experience

How has business been at Just Mortgages for the year to date? In your opinion, has the Brexit vote had an impact on volumes?

Just Mortgages is having a great year. We are on track to break all records in terms of income and profitability and we have made a significant investment in the business.Over the past year we have grown our headcount by 25 per cent and launched our self-employed division, which is growing rapidly. We have also developed our client servicing strategy, which is adding great levels of incremental value. Our New Homes operation goes from strength to strength and we have worked exceptionally hard to bring the Just Mortgages brand to life.

We also started our partnership with Openwork in March, becoming its largest mortgage and protection AR firm. The first six months have been excellent.In terms of Brexit, we have seen little impact other than in our central London region. However, we are seeing some green shoots there as well. Our national footprint has enabled us to weather that storm very well so far.

What is the company’s focus at the moment and what are its plans for the near future?

It continues to be more of the same. We want to grow our business by recruiting more talented mortgage and protection advisers and our strategy means we can offer great choice
to recruits. New advisers joining Just Mortgages can be based in one of our many branches, can work from one of our central telephone units, can grow their own business on a self-employed basis or can work in our New Homes team. It is great that we can talk about all these options with candidates.We will also run some academy programmes where we will recruit talented people with no FS experience. We will train them, help them achieve the required qualifications and then get them on the FS career path.

How long have you been in your current role and where were you previously?

I have been managing director of Just Mortgages for almost four years, before which I spent 17 years at Countrywide.

What appeals to you about the mortgage market?

From the day I started in February 1996, I loved the idea that I was going to help people achieve their goal of buying a home and make sure they were well looked after. The role of mortgage and protection adviser carries a huge amount of responsibility and that has always motivated me.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

At the risk of sounding soppy, my Mum. She brought up my brother and me on her own: working a full-time job, getting us through great education and making sure we missed out on nothing. Nothing but the best was good enough for us and that is a quality I hope I can pass on to my children.

Do you have any secret talents?

I would win the ‘Best Dancing Dad’ competition, if such a thing existed. I like to think that I am a pretty good cook as well.

What do you do in your spare time?

Other than provide a taxi service for my children, I play golf, eat out and have a drink or two.

If you had not chosen this career path, what else would you have liked to do?

I would have loved to be a chef.

What is the best advice you have received?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes often mean that you are trying something new.

If you were chancellor for a day, what would be your priorities?

I would look closely at stamp duty. It can cost so much that it frequently stops people getting on the ladder or moving up it.

 

Company background

Year established: 2012

Headcount: Around 150 mortgage brokers and an additional 30-40 people in the business.

Address: Just Mortgages Direct Limited Colwyn House, Sheepen Place

Colchester, Essex, C03 3LD

Tel: 01206 812395

Web: www.justmortgages.co.uk

Background

Since inception the headcount has grown dramatically and Just Mortgages has a variety of income streams. In 2016 alone it has expanded its self-employed division and launched its new London facility (which looks after the mortgage facilities for high-net-worth estate agency chains). It aims to double both staff numbers and turnover by 2019.