Interview with Sam Norris Director at Grand Union Finance
Sam is looking to revolutionise the mortgage brokering industry
1. How long have you been in the property space and what is the biggest lesson you have learned?
I first started working as a trainee broker, back in 2007 when I took a role at Foxtons. The biggest lesson is patience. I have many calls from prospective new clients that are very eager to find their first deal, and will focus so heavily on this, that they don’t think about the implications for the long term. For example, if a new investor is looking to follow the buy, refurbish, refinance strategy, as they want to build a cash flowing portfolio, but they would not be able to pull enough money out of deal one to follow up with deal two, then its pointless. It is probably because you don’t have enough working capital to get started, so perhaps a flip would work better as your first deal. I doesn’t create a monthly income, which is your ultimate goal, but it helps you get there.
2. Can you tell us what your podcast - The Game of Loans - is about and what listeners can expect from it?
The podcast started out as a way for me to speak to people in my world, or property finance, at the beginning of lockdown, as people were panicking about what was going on. It has evolved since however into much more than just property finance. Yes the name remains (I’m pretty proud of it… and my life is a game of loans, running a mortgage brokerage), but I now speak to successful entrepreneurs, business people, marketers, investors, from all walks of life, with a view to delving into what makes them tick, and just having interesting conversations that listeners will enjoy listening to, that doesn’t feel like you are listing to a university lecture. They are a fly on the wall, listening in to what is hopefully, an educational and entertaining conversation (I’ve coined the term Entucation – Educational entertainment!)
3. What advice would you give someone who is wanting to get into property?
Patience, as I mentioned above, but also take action (Might be a little contradictory). If you want to find an excuse not to do something, you will – There’s a dip in the market coming, mortgage rates are too high, I don’t want to use bridging finance, there are no good opportunities in my area – All excuses and all things that will hinder your progress. If you find a deal and the numbers work, then it’s a deal. Due your due diligence, but don’t formulate excuses as you will simply spend your entire life reading property and business books, and never actually achieving anything.
4. What goals do you have for Grand Union Finance (property finance brokers)?
All brokers suffer from one common problem – overwhelm. The industry as a whole is pretty dated, with brokers roles covering far too much, which ultimately leads to not having enough time in the day to offer clients the service they deserve. How many times have you heard “I can’t seem to get hold of my broker on the phone”? Sounds familiar right? Well we are trying to change this, by creating and implementing a smooth operations process (our first hire after only 8 weeks in business, was an operations manager), so that we never have any clients complain they haven’t heard from us. It is not an overnight thing, but we are working on it tirelessly, every day, with the help of our clients, as we always ask for their feedback, to achieve something we think our industry desperately. The goal therefore is simple. Revolutionise the industry by offering a service level never before seen from a brokerage.
5. How did you get into being a mortgage broker?
Funny story actually. I was called by a recruitment consultant 3 months into my first job out of uni. I was already bored and not paid very much. The RC told me about a job as a broker that she thought I would be great for, so perhaps it was either poor service on her part, or complete naivety on my side not to do any research (probably a bit of both), but I accepted the interview, and went down to the Foxtons head office in Chiswick to interview for what I thought was a stock broker job! I turned up and not only did I find out it was for a trainee mortgage broker position (which I had no idea about), but it was a group interview, and I was one of 12 people being interviewed that day, that included a Sainsbury’s store manager and a regional manager at Next. I thought I had no hope, but when it was time for me to have my 1-2-1 part of the interview, I came clean to the interviewer. They were more annoyed with the recruiter than me (which was helpful), and I suggested we split our 30 mins into two, and I could ask questions about the role for 15 mins and he could ask me questions for 15 mins. That way I could actually figure out if I wanted the job, and he agreed. Out of the 12 people that went for the interview, I was the only one to get the job. Perhaps it was my ability to think of a solution on the spot, or maybe I was going to be more easily moulded as a naïve kid, but I was suddenly in the property industry, and I haven’t looked back since.