One to One: Walter Avrili, managing director, John Charcol

avrili-walter-john-charcol

The launch of a conveyancing service, a culture of seeking very complex cases that most brokers would avoid – and admiration for a Thatcher-Branson hybrid

John Charcol launched its conveyancing service, John Charcol Legal, in June. What was the motivation behind the move and has it proved a success with advisers so far?

Since the launch we have had fantastic feedback from our advisers and clients. The Charcol ethos has always been geared towards securing the best products and services for our clients. Because it is our panel, should any participating firm’s rating fall beneath the expected level, it is automatically replaced. That ensures our clients receive the highest standards of service and the best value for money.

Are there any more changes in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

We have a few things up our sleeve. But we have undergone massive change and investment in the past 18 months, so the biggest change will be our growth, helping our advisers do more of what they are good at – sitting in front of clients.

How is the mortgage market looking since the EU referendum, and what do you expect it to look like in five years’ time?

Since the vote, it has been business as usual. This, I believe, is in part due to the fact that no one has said anything yet to cause any anxiety. The Bank of England moved swiftly to make financial and economic changes to keep things as smooth as possible. The home purchase market is quieter but there is still a good level of enquiries and remortgaging remains strong. Homebuyers are still active but they are taking their time now and looking for better value.

The buy-to-let market remains strong, albeit the purchase side is quieter following the stamp duty increase and the Brexit vote.

How things will change in five years depends on the Brexit negotiations and what trade deals take place. I do not think rates will rise, but lending criteria could be a different ballgame. The deal we get will influence the property market but the biggest issue – supply – will need to be addressed by the Government.

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

I became MD in 2010 after the sale of John Charcol to The Towergate Partnership, but I have been with JC since I graduated in 1984. I have lost count of my roles over the years but I joined as an administration assistant, where one of my duties was filling up my boss’s car with petrol.

What makes John Charcol stand out?

JC has a heritage of more than 40 years. In that time we have helped generations of families get on the property ladder and people return to us again and again for our advice and expertise.

I put our success down to the fact that we are independent and seen as technical experts. We have built a culture whereby advisers thrive on the complex, difficult-to-place and technical cases that most brokers would not touch. We have a great front- and back-office team who deliver great service and are 100 per cent focused on the needs of our customers.

Who is your all-time hero, and why?

A combination of Margaret Thatcher and Richard Branson: Thatcher for her single-minded determination to do what she thought was right when others doubted her; and Branson for the way he has built an empire since the late 1960s and is still as keen to succeed as he was then.

Do you have any secret talents?

After 32 years of meetings, lunches, dinners and corporate hospitality trips, I probably have no secrets from anyone in the mortgage industry.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Although my marathon-running days are in the past, I still enjoy running most days, plus long weekends in Italy.

If you had not chosen this career path, what job would you have liked instead?

At school I fancied a career in law and, having graduated with a politics and law degree, natural progression seemed to point in that direction. But the prospect of another three or four years of exams did not appeal.

What is the best advice you have received?

Always look to employ people who are way better than you.

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

Addressing the housing supply issue at long last, which is not just about building more homes but also about new schools, roads, transportation links and other infrastructure. I would also cut red tape to help small businesses compete.

COMPANY BACKGROUND

Year established: 1974
Headcount: 193
Address: Cutlers Exchange, 123 Houndsditch
London EC3A 7BU
Tel: 0344 346 3672   Web: www.charcol.co.uk

Background
John Charcol is one of the UK’s largest independent mortgage brokers. It has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London and Southampton.