The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from FCC Paragon is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
22 | FCC PARAGON
Bryn Cole, managing
director at FCC Paragon
FCC Paragon was incorporated in 1996; their managing
director, Bryn Cole, has been operating in the property
sector for over 25 years. Since its establishment, it has
concentrated on providing services to tenants, landlords and
a monumental number of letting agents. From their offices in
Portsmouth, their nationwide operation encompasses tenant
referencing, building and contents insurance, rental warranty
provision for landlords and no-deposit warranties for tenants.
Their success is due to a number of key values, including a
strong ethos of positivity and excellence in risk management.
They view themselves as mediators, working towards the best
moral and financial outcomes for all parties involved.
High-quality referencing with a positive attitude
Even before incorporating FCC Paragon, my background was in risk management.
While looking at the requirements for suitability referencing, I was asked to form
a tenant reference report working alongside insurance companies and other firms
in the private renting sector. That project was where it all began. From there,
we started the company officially, and began providing other services, including
insurance and extensive rental warranty products: guaranteeing rent for landlords
and legal expenses for, in the worst-case scenario, eviction.
Our industry seems to be negatively regarded in some cases; this is a serious
misconception. In the vast majority of our work, what we do is mediate and talk.
The last thing we want to do is take people to court and evict them; it’s costly
for everyone involved, and never a desirable outcome. Above that, however,
referencing underpins everything we do – ensuring that remains of the highest
quality is key to our operation. After that, we deal with warranty, and allow people
to look for different solutions to a default situation; but with the right referencing,
often, it never has to come to that.
With a default rate of just three in every 1,000 tenants we reference, across
150,000 to 160,000 references every year, our excellence in this area cannot be
disputed. We look at everything pertinent – employment references, salary details,
pensions, savings and a basic county court judgment search, just to start – and
make a decision. We are always looking to place a tenant; without our company-
wide positive attitude, we would not enjoy the success and custom that we do.
Testament to this is the fact that we work with around 4,000 estate agents across
the country, who provide roughly 90 per cent of our business.
At the bottom line, we are a company grounded in empathy, especially towards
tenants. This allows us to move things forwards quickly, accurately and efficiently,
managing the risk appropriately while protecting our clients. The fact that our
claims handling is geared towards mediation, rather than eviction, helps us achieve
the best solution for tenant, landlord and letting agent almost every time.
»Managing director: Bryn Cole
»Established in 1996
»Based in Portsmouth
»Services: Tenant referencing,
building insurance, contents
insurance and rental warranty
»No. of employees: 110
»Turnover: Between £4 million
and £5 million
»Serving over 4,000 letting
23FCC PARAGON |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Valuable culture at a
We began with a team of two in
1996; over 22 years, we have seen our
workforce increase to 110 employees.
Alongside this, our turnover and
profitability has grown; the former is
between £4 million and £5 million, while
the latter has seen recent year-on-year
growth of between ten and 15 per cent.
The private rental sector is always up and
down – at the moment, it is in a stage
of particular flux. We have been here for
so long, however, that we’ve seen it all
through sector and competitor trends.
Having seen other firms come and go,
we have always stuck to our own, unique
strategy, and it has always worked.
Instrumental to this historic success has
been our employees; over the years, we
have taken on numerous apprentices,
a significant number of whom are
now senior within departments in
the company. We believe that it’s just
as important to grow people as it is
statistics. From 1996 up until the present
day, we have taken on at least 20
apprentices, and are recruiting heavily
at this moment in time. Since Christmas
2017, we have taken on 22 members of
staff, and we are ensuring everyone who
comes on board has the appropriate
training – our credit reference handlers’
programme takes between six and nine
months to complete.
A perfect storm
We have been lucky enough to work
alongside one of the biggest housing
associations in Europe, and some
incredibly prestigious letting agencies
in London. We continue to work on
a case-by-case basis, nationwide, and
we are dealing with several projects of
considerable size which will not come
to fruition until 2019. We have seen
the majority of our new business come
in through referral; our field sales
department consists of one individual,
and our network is growing steadily.
Clients stay with us for years, and
when letting agents move, they often
take us from one agency to another.
No matter how well things are doing,
however, the public rental sector
remains tumultuous. With a lack of
housing stock nationwide, the climate
is worsening steadily for everyone,
tenants, landlords and letting agents
included. We can see it changing
month by month, and a central issue
compounding this is next year’s
pending tenant fees ban. While this is
obviously intended to protect tenants
and their welfare, consequences may
prove to be detrimental. Rent could
increase instead of a one-off fee,
making it more costly for the tenant.
We do agree with fee capping. There
are unscrupulous bodies out there who
unfortunately seek to take advantage
of tenants – we are not one. With a fee
ban, however, landlords are affected
– to counteract the decreased income
from tenants, they will increase rent
prices or sell their properties, further
exacerbating the shortage of housing
stock. Consequently, we need to look at
ways to make our service more beneficial
to assist landlords, letting agents and
tenants; the future will undoubtedly see
greater numbers of rentals year on year
as fewer people buy houses. There is a
way of making things work and moving
forward: we want to find it.
We reference a monumental number of
overseas tenants, and with Brexit on the
horizon, we hope that doesn’t change
– it’s good for the economy and good
for the country. The increasing lack of
housing stock is obviously worrying, and
there is a significant amount of potential
legislation pending. The industry is in a
period of uncertainty and turmoil; we,
however, believe that the future beyond
this is bright. We know our direction
and recognise that our ethics and service
will ensure our security. We have been
a part of the private rental sector for
over 20 years, and we intend to stay
Kally Gibbs presents
Sam Ayling with 2017
Apprentice of the Year
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.