One to One: Gary Little, sales director, Blacks Connect

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The attractions of a new role, the benefits of being part of a law firm, a confident understanding of what brokers need – and fond memories of a potter’s wheel

You recently joined Blacks Connect. Where were you previously and what enticed you to the new role?

I was previously commercial director at TMA Mortgage Club.

I have seen the Blacks Connect intermediary proposition grow and strengthen over recent years. When the opportunity arose to join and help take the business to the next stage in its ambitious growth plans, I felt it was the right move to make.

What ambitions do you have for the company for 2017?

In a nutshell: to position Blacks Connect as the ‘go to’ company for high-quality conveyancing at a competitive price.

I hope to be able to increase the distribution footprint and help develop the proposition further with like-minded partners.

We are also working on a number of other exciting initiatives and hope to be able to bring them to market soon.

What is it about Blacks Connect that should entice brokers to work with you over the competition?

Blacks Connect is part of Blacks Solicitors, a 19-partner UK law firm. This means that, in addition to all aspects of conveyancing, the company offers advice in all other legal areas.

Blacks Connect has invested in technology and has an instant quoting and instruction system. There are no third-party platforms involved and Blacks offers access to a dedicated conveyancer.

In addition, my team includes two business development managers who are on hand to deal with any queries or talk through any new-business questions.

We’ve all got years of experience of working with the intermediary market and we understand what brokers need. It’s about providing a high-quality conveyancing service to the client and the broker – pre, during and post the transaction.

In your opinion, what is currently the biggest challenge facing the mortgage industry?

Uncertainty and government intervention.

Consumers are unsure what to do next as a result of the continuing debacle surrounding Brexit – not to mention everything else on the political landscape at present.

Meanwhile, lenders are having to respond to regulatory changes and government policies – particularly in the buy-to-let sector – which is seeing them tighten criteria in many areas. This is causing problems, not just for consumers but for brokers too.

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

I love all sports and I think I would have chosen a career in the sporting industry.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

Severiano Ballesteros – a genius golfer and so dignified and courageous in his fight against the disease that finally called him.

Do you have any secret talents?

Ten years ago, I would have said that I could turn my hand quite well to the pottery wheel. Now my talents centre more around being an unpaid taxi driver and car ice scraper for my daughters.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy going to the gym, playing golf, watching sport and eating out

What is the best advice you have received?

‘If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.’ That works both ways.

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

Helping young people who are trying to get a foot on the housing ladder. I’m a father of two daughters currently trying to buy a property and I can see the struggle they face.

I’d open up the Help to Buy equity loan scheme to existing properties, not just new-builds, and make Help to Buy Isa funds available to be used as a deposit, which should always have been the case.

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