UK Moneyman: The Origin Story (Interview with Steel FM)

UK Moneyman: The Origin Story (Interview with Steel FM) | MoneymanTV

John McHale Interviews Malcolm Davidson of UK Moneyman.

John

Good morning and welcome to another week on The Business Show here on Steel FM, and a wonderful program in store for all the listeners this morning.

First up, we've got Malcolm Davidson. Malcolm owns ukmoneyman.com and I'm really interested in this one because once I heard that Malcolm wanted to come on the radio, I thought, I know Scunthorpemoneyman, is it anything to do with Scunthorpemoneyman, and we're about to find that out?

So, Malcolm Davidson, welcome to Steel FM.

Malcolm

Hi, John, thank you for having me on.

John

It's great to have you here, Malcolm.

Obviously, we've been speaking off air and I now know of course that Scunthorpemoneyman is a precursor to UK Moneyman, but let's go back to the beginning and you started doing what you did in 2009.

Could you just tell all the listeners what does UK Moneyman do and what brought it into existence?

Malcolm

Like a lot of businesses, John, we were formed out of adversity, so I'm over 20 years as a mortgage broker and then our previous business went by the wayside as part of the credit crunch and we had a decision to make in 2009, of what to do next.

We'd just had a baby, my wife Amy and I, so we decided to start again, but this time keep it very nice and small, converted our garage into an office and the idea was just to service people with mortgage advice in the local area, and that's what we did.

We built a little website, got some business cards printed. We didn't have any customers whatsoever and we got going.

We'd had a rough time to be honest through the credit crunch, we'd gone over a year with no income at all and we remortgaged our house just so we had some funds to live on whilst we got the business up and running and also waited for the market to recover because it was taking longer than we expected.

John

Thank you for that Malcolm.

It's remarkable when we look back and obviously, we work with lots of businesses and the amount that are actually started or grown out of adversity is much higher than people would think.

Also converting your garage into an office or one of the rooms in the house into an office, again, is not unusual.

You've trodden a path that's been well trodden and yet here we are 12 years later, you're still in existence.

I think originally you started in Hull with Hullmoneyman, Malcolm, is that correct?

Malcolm

Yeah, that's right. We built this website, my wife did, Amy, not quite knowing how to build a website.

We started off there, and any inquiries that we generated off that website I would get in the motor car and drive and see those customers in Hull.

She learned these skills of how to grow the website through the rankings on the search engines.

But of course, it's a very slow burn, we didn't have any marketing budget really to spend on adverts or anything, so what we did, we built a second website, but we didn't really want to go much further than I wanted to drive, I didn't want to go down to London or something, so we just decided to keep it local.

We started to build other websites along the same lines as Hullmoneyman, so we did, as you said, Scunthorpemoneyman, Grimsbymoneyman, as far as Lincoln.

Then gradually over the years we did some more.

But anyone that knew me at that time will tell you that the last thing Malcolm was ever going to do was grow another business, he was going to be quite happy being at home with his wife and his two kids and generate an income, keeping his expenses low.

Again, probably in line with other people that you've interviewed on the show, it's a little bit of an accident that we've ended up where we are today.

John

It's really interesting, you look at what we do to start businesses and like many people before you, you do whatever it takes.

In the early days when we have very little money, we do whatever we can to get ourselves out there in front of people.

I think it's fascinating/incredible that wife, and I know your wife's called Amy, that Amy would build a website from scratch with two children under two on her knee and having to learn the skill set to make that happen, but it's what we do as small business owners.

Malcolm

Well, if you met her, you would never underestimate her, she's absolutely phenomenal.

John

And going on from there, of course, which is 2009, and you start to build up, and I understand that in the early days you would make appointments where you could drive out and see people and use your skill set.

Hullmoneyman became Scunthorpemoneyman, it became Grimsbymoneyman and Lincolnmoneyman, because these were still places that you could drive to.

But I guess probably the biggest significant change in your...

The one thing we must say as well, of course, Malcolm, is that everything you do at UK Moneyman is mortgage related.

There are lots of financial products out there, but your skill and expertise has been the last quarter of the century doing nothing other than mortgages of course.

Malcolm

That really does make me sound old now John.

John

[laughter] That's clearly not the intention, Malcolm, clearly not the intention, but you look at that amount of knowledge and expertise and it's always been in mortgages, it just sets you apart from other people in this industry.

Malcolm

Well, that's what people are buying into at the end of the day and you only get that experience over time.

And gradually as you're five years, ten years into a job, no one really expects to end up in financial services, John, you don't leave school dreaming of being a mortgage advisor, no one does.

Everyone who works in my industry lapses into it somehow.

I suppose the difference with me was once I'd ended up doing this job, I wanted to be the best at it and I made it my business to know everything about the subject inside out.

And then you'd like to think that that knowledge radiates out when customers are speaking to you, because as the years progress, you're dealing with situations that you've dealt with time and time again.

And that gives people some confidence, not that we can help every customer that we speak to.

At least I'm familiar with the types of situations and if we can't help now, it's putting people on that track to improve the credit score of how to help them save towards that deposit that will help them buy a property in the future.

John

Completely understand that.

And for all the listeners here this morning on Steel FM, I think the one thing we should definitely cover off Malcolm is why would I go to a broker instead of a bank? Where traditionally in years past you'd always go to your bank first?

But I think in 2014, and I'll let you tell all the listeners around the change in regulations, but following the credit crunch of late 2008 and into 2009, it took them a while to reflect and learn on that.

A massive change in 2014, do you want to share that with all the listeners this morning, Malcolm?

Malcolm

Yeah. The regulator wanted to look into what went so disastrously wrong with the mortgage market in the States and in the UK during that time.

It took them a few years to carry out what they called the Mortgage Market Review and there were several things that they found.

But one of the things that they did and the thing that was pivotal to Amy and I was, they banned what's called non-advised sales.

Prior to 2014 you could take advice from someone like myself, a mortgage broker who'd shop around the market and get you the best deal, or take advice from someone in a bank.

But also, there was an alternative route in the banks only where you could do a non-advised sale.

So go into the branch, speak to someone in the branch, they weren't necessarily an advisor and it was confusing for the consumers as to whether or not they had advice.

The regulator, in my opinion, rightly banned that practice.

That led us to a big decision in our business because we had these websites built, had expanded slightly even further afield then into Leeds, Doncaster, anywhere within an hour or so drive.

And then all of a sudden, John, the phone started ringing a lot more because fewer people wanted to go into banks, the banks couldn't service this demand and we had a decision to make.

Do we stick to the plan, which was to carry on working from home, we'd started making a profit by 2014, or do we try and service some of this additional demand?

And what would surprise some of the listeners, John, is that my job, whilst it's in financial services, does deal a lot with emotions.

People buying homes, being rejected for a mortgage and need some assistance, so it was making me feel bad that I couldn't service these customers for two, three or four weeks because I was so busy.

We had a big decision here. What would we do next?

Would we stick to the plan, stay working out of the garage or would I break my promise to all my mates and friends and family in 2009, and actually look to grow something to service this additional demand?

John

And that's a quandary for any business owner that starts to grow because we never know when that opportunity is going to rise, but rise it does and its decision time.

What do we do? And some people choose to stay where they are, some people choose actually, no, the opportunities there, let's see what we can do to take advantage of it.

Except in this case, it wasn't taking advantage, it was taking advantage of the opportunity, absolutely, yes, it was, but there were lots of people then that realized then that the banks couldn't service them, hence the explosion in mortgage brokers.

And do mortgage brokers provide a great service in the marketplace?

The answer to that is absolutely yes, because you can't get this service at the traditional finance houses.

What happened with Moneyman after 2014?

Malcolm

Well, and on that point, the market's gone from 50% of people using brokers to 80%.

What we did, we had a contact, a chap called John Hassle and he was a business coach that also worked, luckily for us, in our specific sector.

We had a chat with John and he said, "Malcolm, what's the business model like?"

And I said, "Well, you're looking at it. I've been on the road all day; I've spoken to eight customers and I've got another two to see on my way back."

And he said, "Look, Malcolm, you're going to kill yourself." I said, "I won't, I love my job. I love helping all these people."

But I also knew that we had a spark of an idea, something that we could grow and John said, "There's a scheme available."

So, this was the time of the coalition government, the Tories and the Lib Dems.

And the scheme was called The Growth Accelerator, and we qualified for this scheme. I think it was even European funds.

And what we got was £5,000 and we could use that, it was for businesses that were looking to grow.

What we did, we took that five grand and we engaged with John on a six-month program to build a model of how we can grow the business and try and service this demand.

And I often look back on that, John, because I wonder if we hadn't had that £5,000 injection, whether we would've been brave enough to employ John for those six months because that was a massive investment for us at the time.

And I'm not sure we even had the money to be able to do it.

We took the plunge and we did it and we built this model of how we would grow, how many staff we would need, how many leads we would need to generate and how much profit we would need to make.

And we had John for a six-month period through, I think it was the first six months of 2015 we started to take staff on and we still engage John once a month to this day.

John

Brilliant.

And all the listeners will know that we head up our own business coaching practice here in North Lincolnshire and our outlook is that clearly every business should have a coach.

Thank you for that endorsement for what business coaches do.

But it was the right person in the right place at the right time, which then allowed you to grow.

And I think it's fascinating that business brokers came on the back of regulatory change, which was done for the benefit of the consumer and, Malcolm and Moneyman were just in the right place at the right time also to be able to actually start to expand your business, which is fabulous.

Malcolm

Well, people have asked me, John, why we have a business coach because I'm very experienced in what I do and Amy and I have...

I think what it is with a business coach, it stops you making bad mistakes sometimes.

John

Absolutely, yes.

And we go back to The Growth Accelerator Scheme that was put there, absolutely right reasons it was put in by the UK government.

And I know a lot of businesses reached out and actually took advantage of that.

And it's great to hear that several years on the person that helped you out at that time is still the person that's helping you to this day.

Because I forget now how many people Moneyman employees, but I'm sure you're about to tell the listeners how many people are working with you.

Malcolm

Well, we've got 40 people now, 15 advisors.

You think of how much tax and National Insurance and Corp Tax that's generated over the last six years.

And I think that was a good return on the £5,000 investment.

John

Absolutely a superb return on that investment.

And so just jumping back to that, now a company of 40 staff, you must be immensely proud of that, 15 advisors and from something that was pretty centric to North and South Bank here in Lincolnshire, you do cover the whole of the UK.

But with that amount of advisors, we're not driving clearly to see everybody these days so a lot of it must be done electronically.

The boom in electronic communication during the last 18, 19 months has been incredible, of course, but you must reach every part of the UK, Malcolm?

Malcolm

Yeah. We had advisors plonked in the end, in different parts of the country.

So, we had an advisor down in Nottingham, a lady over in Liverpool, a chap in Manchester.

We had people scattered around, but we lost a bit of control, John, when that was happening.

So, what we did in 2018 was we started a telephone advice service, probably against my better judgment, because I've always thought this was a face-to-face job.

So we took on two telephone advisors and I said, "Look, prove me wrong, prove that this can be done over the phone because I'm not sure it can."

During the end of 2018 and through 2019, we started to see more and more people be comfortable conducting their mortgages over the phone.

Interestingly, when we got to at the end of 2019, just pre-pandemic, we'd gone from doing 0% of our transactions over the phone all the way up to 60%.

Also, the majority of our customers were opting for this telephone service because it was quicker, much more efficient for them and they weren't having to sort the house, get the kids ready, they could do it at their own convenience.

Again, a little bit of good fortune for us that when the Coronavirus came around, we'd already made the switch from face-to-face to non-face-to-face advice.

John

Pioneers. UK Moneyman, a first for mortgages, first at pioneering what needs to be done electronically, that's fantastic.

And as you said earlier, it's an emotive subject buying a house and being able to provide that service where people can secure the house/home they're really looking forward to, or they really want, must be an amazing feeling at times, Malcolm?

Malcolm

Well, it is.

Just to hold their hand through the process as well, because things go wrong.

It's just having someone there at the end of the phone, on the video call now, that you can check in with and say, "Look, don't worry, we're going to help you through this."

Of course the fantastic thing is the satisfaction when the customer finally gets the keys and moves in and leaves you a nice review online.

John

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

As you know, Malcolm, at the end of every show, we always play a song which is your choice.

For the listeners of Steel FM this morning, what song have you chosen for everybody to listen to today?

Malcolm

All my friends will expect me to pick anything by The Smiths or Morrissey, because I'm a big fan.

Actually I'm going to pick a song that was playing in my head a lot around that time, beginning of 2009, when we were just about to get going, and it's “Brand New Start” by Paul Weller.

John

“Brand New Start” by Paul Weller. What a great choice.

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UK Moneyman Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

UK Moneyman Limited registered in England, registered number 6789312 and registered office 10 Consort Court, Hull, HU9 1PU.

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