It occurs to us that a basic explanation as to how customers of an estate agency might use 'us', when they might find us useful, and what information an estate agent can use to contextualise the relevance of our work, mightn't go amiss.
We work with both high street estate agents with the more traditional shop window and with arguably more modern outfits whose presence is purely online. One man bands and multiple offices alike.
Almost all of our relationships with the sector are with independents or boutiques or ,sometimes, niche operations whose activities stray in to property dealings.
Working with smaller outfits keeps things personal and means teams can really get to grips with the why of a referral and whom they are referring to.
Personal plays to our strengths as a boutique and means we can really get to know negotiators and agency owners and explain the benefits of truly integrating our services into the buying process. Typical clients we assist are foreign UK-resident and international vendors or buyers as well as UK nationals selling and looking to move funds abroad. We also help executors administering estates and transmitting bequests to beneficiaries overseas.
One of the most common instructions we receive is to assist foreign nationals renting in London and then looking to purchase a property in the capital.
Individuals and families bringing capital in to the UK can use our foreign currency denominated segregated client accounts (which serve the same purpose as a segregated account a solicitor might use) to extract their funds from their home country and enter the UK banking system.
One of the most common things we are told by estate agents is that their client 'doesn't ask' about currency matters and, because they 'don't ask', many agents assume the client is catered for in that area.
We can assure you that clients tend not to be catered for in that area, so, whilst we will field it politely, we will make every effort to explain how unlikely it is that your client even knows about the level of sophistication and the distinct value the work of a specialist currency broker represents.
They are not asking about currency because it doesn't occur to them that you know someone who could help them; it is not because they do not require advice.
We have three different service wrappers the nuances of which tend to encapsulate the practical preferences of clients with varying degrees of confidence and understanding of exchange rates and international payment mechanisms.
Even though we have identified some common threads which are catered for within these three 'service wrappers', each matter is treated individually and so our brokers may draw on some of the features of one wrapper and tailor other aspects of the service, thereby arriving at a bespoke solution uniquely applicable to and actionable for your client.
Our 'blended' approach to the actual booking of a rate and execution of a transaction will tick both the box for convenience and ease, and the boxes for unparalleled rate competition and customer care. Please do not just take our word for it.
The reason we are the broker for some of London's most discerning professional services businesses is because we deliver exactly what you would expect from a best in class operation. For want of a better expression - 'we speak the language of our target markets'.
As we have mentioned many times before, it is never too early to suggest making use of a currency broker to a foreign buyer or your vendor.
Given that rates of exchange change constantly, your buyer and your vendor's foreign currency return will be constantly changing too and this can have very really effects on their appetites and their willingness to consider or deliver offers at certain levels.
Prior to a client actually instructing us to buy and sell a currency we charge nothing for our pricing and consultancy services.
At the referral stage we are sitting behind our screens and beside our phones exclusively to troubleshoot and quote rates of exchange and to guide on which contract might best achieve the timing or cash flow sensitivities of your client.
One of the overriding things we ask you to remember is that if your client would otherwise leave their transaction to their bank, their budget will be literally up to 4% less because of marginal losses on the rate of exchange.
Your client is leaving money on the table if they exchange their funds through their everyday banking provider.
Introducing Prime Cap can have a significant and positive effect on the completion of a deal especially during periods of rate volatility when the slightest move in the pound can spook a buyer or put off a vendor.
By way of an example:
We have been referred to an American looking to add to his Buy to Let portfolio. He already has one property in London.
Completion on his second purchase is not for three months so he is speaking with us daily to weigh up the benefits of waiting on an improved rate.
We won't tell him to wait because the rate will be better. That is not something we or anyone can do, but, we can model for him the cost implications of certain rates.
For this investor cash flow is a consideration. It is not a concern, but we know that being able to keep his capital in an interest bearing vehicle until the last moment is his preference.
Hence, we have explained the virtues of using a forward contract.
If the numbers add up he is in a position of buy the £1.5million he requires, now. He can buy them at today's rate, but, such are the terms of a forward that he can delay paying for the GBP until the day of completion, if he wishes.
Having conducted various transactions for this client we know that his US bank will credit our US client account the same day, so, we can ensure that his solicitor receives his balance in good time.
Daily we find ourselves asking why a currency broker isn't referred by an estate agent in the same way a mortgage broker is.
Sure, there is consistent demand for mortgages and, admittedly, currency services are still a touch niche outside the M25, but, when a mortgage broker gets you a rate of 2.5% as opposed to 4.5% and Prime Cap can slash your margin from 4.5% to 0.45%, the numbers are no less compelling.
The number of private office, property search and buy-side property concierge businesses referencing their services for international clients has noticeably increased in the past five years.
You might think this is because the number of buyers has increased, but, that has been the case over the last 20 rather than the last 5 years so something else is surely the catalyst.
We think it is because services tailored to the international market and the ability to market oneself outside of one's own domestic markets are now mainstream.
You need to be just as prepared for a potential buyer from China, Singapore or Australia to be looking at your stock as you are for someone from a more local locale; and our service means wherever they are they can check the live, like for like, foreign currency price whilst browsing.
We have not enjoyed glibbly telling businesses we've spoken with recently that their competitors have multiple references to international markets on their website and they have none. We are not marketeers.
If you already work with international clients or aspire to, what do you say to them when they ask you about currency? If they don't ask about currency then why aren't you? You need to do your AML when they offer, so you do know if funds are coming in from abroad...why not add another string to your bow?
How can your service be turn-key without that aspect represented?
Let us sit down with you over a coffee or a cocktail and explain in person how we can sit discretely but effectively alongside your brand and your staff, and make both a positive impression on your service offering as well as your conversion ratio and revenue.
What have you got to loose?