How this father and son tandem grew a brokerage firm
Six years ago, Mark Stallard (pictured right) would not have imagined anything other than being a sole trader, doing enough to earn a living, being answerable only to himself and his network.
“That would have been fine, except being on your own can be lonely at times, and I think one can easily not push oneself,” Mark told Mortgage Introducer, recounting that time when House and Holiday Home (HHH) Mortgages – the brokerage he founded – was just a year old.
Joe (pictured left), Mark’s son, had vowed never to touch a mortgage. He did not want to get involved in his father’s business as his career until then had seen him work in a more corporate background, fulfilling marketing roles in London.
But the elder Stallard, while holding decades of experience in the mortgage industry, was not as techie as he wanted and needed to be.
“Joe was constantly asked IT and technology questions by me, ‘How do I do this, how do I do that?’, so I inadvertently dragged him in as he started to see business opportunities that I was perhaps blind to,” Mark related. “Joe went away and achieved CeMAP before joining the business full-time in 2017. And the business has never looked back.”
The HHH Mortgages’ owner director said the firm has grown steadily since, now having a team composed of five advisors and three admin staff. They’re on the lookout for more to join them too.
“We love that we have six other people working with us now,” Mark said. “And we want many more! We get to see them grow and develop, and it delivers a better service to our customers. That would simply never have happened if I was still on my own.”
As the business name suggests, the firm is centred around the holiday let and holiday home mortgage sector. However, they also provide residential, buy-to-let, and insurance advice, which makes up a large proportion of its business. In addition, HHH Mortgages is giving an increasing amount of equity release advice.
Joe – the marketing expert that he is – noted that the name of the business has been “a blessing and a curse.” While it highlights its specialist area of lending, it has also created the false impression that that’s all they do, he said.
“It’s a market we want to dominate, but we do so much else as well,” Joe, who is now co-director at HHH Mortgages, pointed out.
When asked what it’s like working so closely with a family member, the pair both responded positively.
“We dovetail well,” Mark said. “Joe brings the desire to run and build a successful business, and I provided the initial foundations of knowledge and people contact.”
“Our working relationship is excellent, I think!” Joe added. “We don’t argue or stress each other.”
Mark admitted that it’s Joe who’s now driving the business forward, saying the younger Stallard is “very good at finding a way to spend earnings, but never in a frivolous or risky manner.”
“Joe always has a plan and vision,” he continued. “This was very much my business, my baby. But now, while we retain an equal share, I am happy to let Joe take the lead. This will all be his in a few years’ time, and I don’t want him having to think he will change everything from day one when he is solely in charge.
“Initially, it was all novel and fun, but we’ve always wanted to do things right. We found ourselves having to get serious about things like taking on staff, growth plans, knowing our numbers, and thinking what this business looks like in five- or 10-years time. We still enjoy each other’s company at the football or on the golf course, but it is hard not to talk about work!”
They also believe they work together well because they complement each other’s skillsets. They agree that Mark is more of a people person and is always happy to chat away to customers, whereas Joe focuses more on helping clients efficiently and professionally.
“This makes us a good team,” Joe remarked. “I like to think we go above and beyond for all our clients. The business has been built on referrals, so ensuring we get people raving about the service is so important.
“But as technology changes and improves, we need to ensure our processes are built with the customer in mind. It’s got to be easy to work with us, and it’s got to enhance the advice process.”
Asked what’s next for the firm, Joe stated they “want to continue to grow, but in the right way.” He sees himself focusing more on the day-to-day running of the firm, while Mark is working more on later life lending and equity release, as well as maintaining lender relationships.
“It sounds cheesy, but it’s true, our people are a family,” Joe said. “We never want to lose sight of those values, and we’re on the lookout for more good people to join us and share in that.”
Are you a mortgage broker who also has a story to tell? Leave a comment in the discussion box at the bottom of the page, and you might get your story featured here too.