The Sybarite sat down with Hugh Wade-Jones, Managing Director of Enness Private Clients, a London- based million pound mortgage broker. We spoke about his career, advice for hopeful entrepreneurs, his predictions for the HNW property market in 2017, and the launch of Enness International.
What led you to a career in brokering?
I’ve always had an interest in properties. It was as simple as I worked for a mortgage broker in my university holidays and I thought he drove quite a nice car and seemed to have quite a nice lifestyle. I was always quite keen to get into the property sector, but maybe not so much on the technical side, so it seemed to tick a lot of boxes in terms of meeting people, selling and advising, as well as being involved in property.
Why did you set up Enness Private Clients?
I worked within one of the industry’s largest mortgage brokerages and within that, I set up a team focused on high net worth individuals and foreign nationals. The team was extremely successful within that company but ultimately it was not what the company did so the ability to grow that team and develop it as I would have liked wasn’t available, so I set up Enness. I’d always wanted to work for myself, it was one of the attractions of going into the property world – specifically mortgage broking – that I saw a very clear path to being able to start my own business.
How do you ensure that your business remains one of the best in London?
I think what we’ve always tried to do is push the search for new banks, different lenders and different ways of structuring things. So I think where we sit above a lot of our competitors is simply the breadth of lenders that we have access to. We also try and educate our staff as much as we can, not just in terms of the structuring and mortgage basics, but also a wider understanding on taxation, legal issues, cultural differences and jurisdictions. I also think we market very well. The way we put the brand forward and the understanding we have of what our clients actually want is fairly strong.
What would you be doing career-wise if you weren’t in brokering?
I buy and sell property myself, I develop property as an interest. I think I have an idea in my head that I could probably run a bank better than other people, so getting into that from a lending perspective would be interesting. Down the line, ten, twenty years, the idea of having a bank and lending money is something that appeals.
What else are you passionate about, besides your business?
I do a lot of sport. I’ve always played rugby – I played to a very high level when I was younger and gave up that dream when the idea of earning money became a bit more attractive than playing sport. I have a young family, so that takes up most of my time when I’m not running around Regent’s Park or in the gym. I’ve got one [a marathon] coming up this year – I was meant to run in Lisbon in October  but I was injured. I was meant to run in Dubai in January , but again, same injury meant that didn’t happen. So this year I’ve got nothing booked. I’ve done quite a few ultra-marathons, like 60-70 mile races. I did London to Brighton years ago. On a road, it would have been fine, but cross country it took about twelve and a half hours straight.
Enness have just launched Enness International, the world’s leading broker for large European mortgages.Tell us a bit more about that.
When we started Enness, we focused very much on the London market, but a vast majority of our clients are foreign or have some kind of overseas element to the deal, whether it be owned by an overseas company or a trust. So we’ve been continually asked through the past ten years to finance property abroad and we’ve always resisted temptation because we’ve wanted to grow what we have and be experts in our field. So over a year ago, we decided to take to Monaco as a test area, a very high net worth enclave where we felt potentially we could improve on what they had, see whether that worked. Very quickly we realised it did work after research in the market and with our clients, so slowly we expanded it out from Monaco to the south of France, the Balearics, Switzerland, various areas in Europe. It was housed within Enness but has now grown to such a size that it warrants its own brand, personality and office, which will be down in Monaco.
What are your predictions for the high-value mortgage market in 2017 and beyond?
With everything going on in the world at the moment [Brexit and Trump], I think at best it will be a stagnant market. We needed to look further afield to continue growing aggressively.
I think that within London, there’s not too much to worry about. I would hazard a guess that the dollar will get to parity with the sterling at some point, which is going to mean that we are going to be looking at Americans and Middle Eastern buyers having a lot more buying power in the UK. Although I don’t see transaction levels being particularly high, I also don’t see a situation whereby prices slip because I think those that do want to sell or those with the best property – we’re talking about the high net worth market here – will always have a buyer. If you’re running a business and it’s sound, there’s huge opportunity if you look in the right areas.
What’s your advice for hopeful entrepreneurs?
I think with entrepreneurialism, there’s too much focus on innovation. With running your own business, I think doing what you do and doing it very well and understanding the process is key. It all really comes down the bottom line of how you manage your costing and margins. As the company’s improved and we’ve grown, it’s become increasingly apparent that it’s about process. Committing what you do, no matter how simple or how basic the process is to paper and just following that; refining that.
Take some risks. You have to have an attitude whereby you would genuinely not be concerned if you lost everything tomorrow if the opportunity to strike it rich were there. It is a mindset.
Headed by Marion Feracci, Enness International will cater for clients looking to acquire or refinance overseas property, specifically those located in Monaco, France, The Balearics and Switzerland.