Today’s Conveyancer talks to Ian Fletcher
Ian is Director of Conveyancing at Move with Us, one of the UK’s leading residential property experts. He has been responsible for conveyancing at the firm since he joined just over 11 years ago, just a month after the firm introduced conveyancing to the business. He recently became Managing Director of the partner network side of the business which covers membership and some areas of the firm’s agency business.
Has the offering of Move with Us changed a lot over that time?
Immeasurably, when we started I was the one ringing the agents and consumers, picking up conveyancing leads and giving quotes. Now we have about 55 staff involved in conveyancing and hundred people on the partner network side of the business.
Are you looking to grow the business further in the near future?
Absolutely, we’ve set ourselves the ambitious target of doubling the business in 18 months. We were one of the first firms to come into the market and offer a panel managed service. At the time we had just four solicitors’ firms on the panel. Now we are processing in the region of 3,500 conveyancing cases a month. October will be the biggest month for instructions in our history.
Do you think that growth can be sustained over the next 12 to 18 months?
Yes. We’ve been trying to target agents in the last few months and already work with a number of strong brands who bring in a lot of business. We now have around 450 agents referring conveyancing leads to us and the plan is to continuously grow that. We have grown by over 30% in the last 12 months and whilst the market appears to be flat at the moment we are doing better than we were this time last year.
Do you feel worried about any of the new players entering the market?
I think there’s always a credible threat. It’s always interesting to hear about new players in the market but the reality is that so far they really haven’t made much difference. Firms have to basically do what’s on the tin – offer a great service. If you offer a great service you’ll keep people happy. We don’t lose a lot of business and it’s really important to us that we put in a lot of effort to maintaining those relationships.
Is technology important to you as a firm?
It’s so important to us. We’ve just launched a Navigator system which effectively is a next level online conveyancing system. The aim is to cut down some of the time between instructions and exchange of contract. Consumers will be able to interact with us through the systems.
Could you tell us more about your solicitor’s panel?
We’ve got about 100 solicitors firms on our panel now. They take anywhere between ten transactions and 250 transactions a month. It’s a fairly wide range of solicitors, some licensed conveyancers, some small practises and some large. It really depends on what the agent wants. Sometimes they might want a firm with a local presence and we are really flexible with our approach in order to serve their needs.
Is growth of the panel likely?
Sometimes when we win new business an agent will ask to work with a specific firm, as long as we can negotiate commercial terms with them then we will try to work in partnership with them. We have a team of six solicitor relationship managers who are dedicated to making sure relationships with solicitors work well.
Do you think the conveyancing market is going to change a lot in the coming years?
The sad reality is that a number of smaller firms have been sinking. If you were just trying to survive on conveyancing alone it could be very difficult. There’s always a worry but you just have to plough through. We are not going to stop trying to grow. We will always try to buck the market trend.