Leading Property Services Group, Countrywide, talk to Today's Conveyancer

Countrywide are one of the country’s leading estate agency and property services groups.

When declaring their recent financial results they described their conveyancing offering as “industry leading”. A statement backed up when they recently picked up the British Mortgage Awards "Conveyancing Business Leaders" Award.

We talked to Sue Spurgeon, Chief Operating Officer at Countrywide Conveyancing services to find out more.  

Congratulations on the award.  With Countrywide being so large, every conveyancer thinks they know about it, could you give us your take on the business?

Countrywide Conveyancing Services (CCS) is the largest transactional conveyancer in the UK. Our combination of scalable in-house operation and large panel management facility means we can deliver the benefits of a dedicated transactional conveyancing team along with specialist panel members. Countrywide Conveyancing has completed in excess of half a million completions over the 15 years we have been in business. This means when our panel members work together to share great ideas and best practice we are in a good position to contribute.

My role is to ensure that we retain our position, and continue to grow and improve our offering – whether that’s through investing in increasing service standards, expanding into new growth areas or responding to the latest regulatory changes. I am proud to say we have had five consecutive years of profit growth and have recently been appointed as panel managers to one of the UK’s largest lenders.

You’ve been at Countrywide for about 11 years.  How has this helped you as CEO?

Working for 11 years in different roles in the conveyancing division was a good grounding for my current role. Researching and asking questions of various parties in the market is essential to maintaining continuous improvement. Experience working within Financial Services and Outsourcing has given me an excellent background in balancing the customer expectation in an increasingly demanding consumer environment, and the requirements of our business in our regulatory environment. 

At Countrywide we are skilled at bringing together introducers and dealing with their brands at the same time. 

A strong team is essential in delivering and growing a business and we employ some of the best people in the industry across all functions.

What do you find is the biggest struggle to manage in the conveyancing process and how do you try to overcome that at Countrywide?

It’s is a fast-moving market, there is no time to stand still or be complacent. You have to be one step ahead and be proactive. Admittedly, there are times when all you can do is react, especially when it comes to rolling out regulatory changes, service launches, new products or panel models. However, CCS is committed to going above and beyond for its clients. Despite, or perhaps because of our size, we look for innovative solutions to improve our service to clients, and add value. Dealing with the present and making time to predict as far as possible into the future, using the resources around you is a challenge facing us all.

We recently developed a ground-breaking new SLR process, to help protect lenders and clients, which is now being used by other mortgage industry leaders.

There seems to be a reduction in the number of conveyancing firms with some consolidation occurring.  What do you think the next five years will hold for conveyancers?

Five years is a long time in our market and I don’t think any of us can see that far ahead. But without doubt I can’t see how there will not be further consolidation combined with pressure to deliver a best-in class service, with investment high on the agenda for delivering enhanced and new product.

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