Adam Tovey (pictured), director of The Mortgages Group which trades as Mortgage Wales, said the decision was a sign of natural progression.
“It does seem to be oftentimes, the next natural step is to go self-employed. A number of things have come together at the same time and we discussed doing this together,” Tovey said.
His colleague Sean Maybery is also a director at the firm, while Paula Clement will be head of mortgage and insurance services and Megan Addy will work as an independent mortgage and protection adviser.
Countrywide’s Welsh arm put its brokers on furlough during the pandemic and Tovey was one of the first to return in June.
He said being put on furlough opened his eyes to being self-sufficient.
The brokers all previously worked at banks including HBSC, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and Skipton Building Society.
They worked at Countrywide for up to five years, with Tovey serving the longest tenure.
He said it was a “steep learning curve” coming from a banking background, but said the brokers managed to build a brand for themselves which put them among the top employees at Countrywide’s Welsh business.
He added: “The rewards are higher and better than in the banking space, but it is not a 9-5 job. We’ve had to learn a lot in a short space of time; it makes you develop a network of business development managers, solicitors and estate agent partners. Then you start thinking, ‘I could be doing this on my own’.”
Casting a wider net
While he said this was not the sole reason for the departure, Tovey mentioned changes at Countrywide following the Connells takeover had partially influenced the decision.
The acquisition was finalised in March this year. When asked by Mortgage Solutions, Countrywide said it has since streamlined its lender panel to align with the Connells Group.
Tovey said there were no hard feelings towards the firm as it had given him the tools to progress to his current position.
He added: “We’ve moved on and want to look at conducting business across the whole of market including protection, the open market for general insurance, commercial and second charge.
“I’ve been qualified to give equity release advice for other a year, but I’ve just not been able to use that. Countrywide has given us a great branding, but there’s a big wide world beyond residential and first-time buyers. We’re the masters of our own destiny now.”
Opportunities for expansion
Tovey said there would still be restrictions being part of The Right Mortgage Network, but added that the support offered by its subsidiary The Right DA Club would be advantageous to Mortgages Wales.
He said: “We are looking at building a business and want to employ other advisers as soon as possible.
“We are pretty confident that we can sustain the numbers we were doing at Countrywide. In terms of expansion, we’ll need admin support sharpish. We expect to employ two more advisers within 12 months.”
Tovey also inherited the portfolio of his former colleague Peter Sadler, who was appointed as a director for Just Mortgages’ Welsh arm.
“Pete employed me when I started at Countrywide and his circumstances changed when the opportunity came up at Just Mortgages. He told me I was the first person he called regarding his portfolio. It’s one of many things that just fell into place,” Tovey added.
He said Mortgage Wales’ current employees had business portfolios expanding across Bristol and West Wales, opening it up to further growth.
Regarding the treatment of future staff members, Tovey said he planned a relaxed approach.
“We are of the mind that you don’t need to be working 14 hours a day to do a great job. Ultimately, our main focus is to ensure we get a team of advisers who are market leading and we provide them with what they require to give the best possible advice to clients.
“We won’t have spreadsheets saying how many mortgages our advisers have and haven’t done, we’ll be focusing on providing the best service to our clients. We want our staff to feel valued,” Tovey added.
This week, Countrywide finalised its reference for Mortgage Wales and the company is set to go live imminently.
Tovey said: “There’s never been a better time in terms of transactions and demand. In terms of our scope, being whole of market, the opportunities are vast.”