Rising Star: Thomas Bull, adviser at John Charcol

Rising Star: Thomas Bull, adviser at John Charcol



What does your role entail and how long have you been doing it?

My role involves sourcing funding solutions for businesses or business investment. I’ve been in the role for a year.


What attracted you to working in the finance sector?

Finance has been a keen interest of mine since I was 16 years old. Specifically, property and equity. I began trading equities as contract for difference (CFD) or buying shares as soon as I was legally able to. I would target development and holding companies specifically in the UK, and Germany where the market was so stable.

My interest and drive has always been centred around commercial or real estate investment and not necessarily mortgages. Therefore the specialist finance role suited me because it focuses on business investment and provides a clear understanding on why investors are structuring or building their portfolio in a certain way.


What were you doing in the five years before starting here? 

I was at Barton Peveril College, Hampshire, studying business, mathematics and technology until mid-2015. After this I immediately started work in a local independent estate agent. This developed my understanding of property management and lettings. I worked very closely with our in-office mortgage adviser. After spotting that I had great interest in their work they promoted me as a trainee and processor in preparation for my qualification and licence.

I continued to train in mortgage advice and practice whilst also day-trading equities for around a year, before deciding to expand my corporate knowledge and move to London. I had trained as an equity broker and was the youngest member of staff to be a client relationship manager for H2O Markets and SVS, specialising in overseas property. 

Being 19 and living in London on my own, I quickly realised that living in the city was not for me (not to mention extremely expensive) and decided to move further afield. My next role involved working directly for one of the funds and listed companies I worked with before as a business development manager. This was my first experience in creating my own client base and flying around Europe meeting clients, conducting site visits and packaging investments for UK and overseas expat investors through independent financial advisers (IFAs).

Following this, I decided to undergo full qualification to provide my own advice to customers. This led me to John Charcol and the company’s recent expansion in Southampton in 2017.


What personal talent or skill is most valuable in doing your job?

The most valuable skills are affinity and genuine interest in the sector. This is paramount when providing solutions for commercial clients – often it’s associated with personality or market knowledge, but the essential skill for my role is demonstrating a deep-seated interest in why a business would benefit from the investment and in turn the finance option proposed.


What personal talent or skill would you most like to improve on?

One skill I’d most like to improve on is organisation. After seeing continuous improvement in processes since starting at John Charcol, organisational skills have resulted in huge success in the specialist lending team. New processes and introduction arrangements have been added to ensure new cases are conducted and handled efficiently, from initial enquiry through to completion.


What is the most interesting or memorable property deal or case you’ve been involved in?

The clear winner to come to mind was taking on a lending enquiry for the Roman Catholic dioceses of Great Britain – a remortgage option for one diocese in the south of England to cover redevelopment of housing for priests. This organisation not only carried an asset backing in the hundreds of millions, but also potentially offered a guarantee from the Church ultimately owned by the Pope. Needless to say, this was an interesting case.


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Despite the relatively long resume, in a short period, I believe John Charcol to be by far the best company I’ve worked for. I have had the opportunity to observe several longer-term partners and associates within John Charcol that have built tremendous careers from years of determination and hard work. 

I look forward to emulating that over the coming years to build on my personal career but also to lead the commercial department to a substantial part of the business’s output over the next five years.


If present-day you could go in time back and tell yourself something five years ago, what would it be? 

I’d tell myself not to take everything so seriously. I used to think that your career, specifically sales, was pivotal on being able to wow a customer or solely down to being able to make a hard sell. What my experience has taught me is that building relationships, truly understanding why and what the customer intends to do, hugely boosts my day-to-day job satisfaction and success in this field.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve tackled so far in your career?

The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is not being able to help a customer, due to the circumstances of a case, or that something may take longer to book or be completed.


If you could have one super power, what would it be?

That’s an easy one – time travel. If I were to have this super power it would be the most useful, being able to travel back and forward in time, going all the way back to historical events and seeing what it will be like in the future. 


And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked? 

The strangest question I’ve ever been asked was quite recently. As my role entails, I help some of the more complex business types especially trading businesses and have had some of the most bizarre lending requests. The top of these requests would have to be a client who wanted to raise either on UK property, or overseas from assets, to purchase an island. The best part was that it wasn’t for any specific or commercial reason – it was solely because he thought he could. Further down the list I’ve had requests for finance on a solar panel farm, dog walking parks and even a 900-year-old castle. These, although all classed as out of the ordinary, are really a highlight as to why I love my job. It’s never the same request and it’s challenging at times, but it’s all worth it when you can provide the solution to make your clients’ dreams come true.