One to One: Shaun Church, director, Private Finance

Looking after prime clients by utilising technology, growing broker numbers, surviving the financial crisis – and respect for Arnold Schwarzenegger

Can you explain the USP of Private Finance?

We look after generally prime clients, typically busy business people and professionals with their very different requirements.

Our aim is to utilise technology and personal relationships to make obtaining the best option as trouble free as possible from a client’s perspective.

What is one thing you’d like your business to achieve in the next 12 months?

To increase the broker headcount. We have plenty of new business enquiries from our marketing and introducers.

We have been successful in developing brokers from scratch and our larger premises in central London gives us space to expand.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

The financial crisis was a real eye-opener. I’d recently started out as a broker and things were pretty challenging. That said, there was no better way of honing one’s broking skills. The way in which we prospered as a business supports the view that problems are opportunities.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love the variety. No two clients are identical and this presents different challenges every day.

There is nothing better than getting a tricky case over the line, which subsequently helps a client to achieve their property aspirations.

Given the current pre-Brexit and post-hung parliament market, has anything changed with regard to demand from international buyers?

We continue to receive enquiries from both Europe and the rest of the world and currently there doesn’t appear to have been any change in the demand for UK property.

Name one change you would like to see in the mortgage market.

Recent arrivals in the broker market have made others reassess their offering to see how they can simplify the process for consumers.

The real breakthrough will be when lenders look to incorporate uniform processes and greater cross-referencing to offer significant time savings for consumers. This is something we are working on as a business.

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

My dream job would be to race motorcycles professionally. I’ve ridden bikes since I was a child so it would be the icing on the cake.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

Arnold Schwarzenegger. I read his autobiography and it amazed me how a guy from a small Alpine town in Austria went from humble beginnings to champion bodybuilder to Hollywood’s biggest star, and ended up as governor of California.

It just goes to show what can be achieved with determination (as well as a little luck!).

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Dallas Buyers Club back in 2014. I tend to watch most new movies when they turn up on Netflix.

What do you do in your spare time?

I travel. I try to get in at least two ski trips a year.

I’m also about to walk the first five days of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, from southern France over the Pyrenees into northern Spain. One of my clients did the entire thing, which is 400-plus miles and takes around 40 days.

I am really looking forward to it and, if I enjoy it, I’ll go back and complete it next year.

What is the best advice you have received?

‘The best way to stop smoking is not to start.’

It was said by my father, who was a smoker at the time. So I’ve never touched a cigarette.

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

From a professional standpoint, my priority would be to reform stamp duty; this is the biggest factor restricting the market today.

On the personal side, I’d address the funding issues with the NHS.

COMPANY PROFILE

Year established: 1999

Headcount: 35

Address: 21 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HH

Tel: 020 7317 2820

HISTORY
Private Finance is a whole-of-market broker headquartered in London and serving regions across the UK. It is a partner of 60 lenders ranging from high-street institutions to private banks and specialist lenders.