12
Stay in the Game

Don't give up – in life or in business. When I hear new recruits start saying that being a mortgage consultant is “not for them” and they want to quit, because they've hit a tough patch, I remind them that when you quit, it's not just about you. Quitting has a ripple effect. Lots of people's lives are affected by everything you do. When you give up on you, you give up on them.

I tell them the story of my dad, who could have given up so many times while he hitchhiked from Malaysia to England. No matter how hard it got, he managed to pick himself up and keep going. I say: “If my dad hadn't kept going, if my dad had quit, I wouldn't have been born, I wouldn't have built this company, and you wouldn't be sitting in that chair with this job right now.”

Giving up on You Is Giving up on Everyone

The decisions you make affect many more people than you. If Alexander Bell had quit, we might never have had the telephone. If Thomas Edison had quit, we might not have had electricity. And you don't have to be the next Alexander Bell or Thomas Edison, but you could be the guy – or girl – who helps them. These legends of science didn't get there alone, they had a lot of people helping them, and those people had to “not quit”… if any of them had quit the world could have ended up a completely different place. Everyone hits a wall from time to time in life, a wall that seems too big to climb, a wall that makes you want to give up because it seems as though your goal is out of reach; but your achievements are important. Every contribution you make to the overall big picture and end goal is a vital one, no matter how small it seems.

You never know what contribution something you do will make to people's lives.

Life is always much bigger than it seems from your little perspective.

Quitting doesn't help anyone. And you have to be careful because quitting can become a habit; once you start “giving up” it's hard to stop. Remember, everything you do is about much more than just you; every action you make is a vital thread in the fabric of life so never give up!

There are three stories that I think about when things get tough. In order of occurrence (or, in the case of the first, in learning about) they are the events I think of when I feel like giving up. These stories help me keep going. You may have your own, but if you need some additional inspiration, here are mine.

My Father's Story

The story that has most inspired me, all my life, is the journey my father made – on foot – from Malaysia to the UK in 1959. He was just 21. I remember being told this story when I was young, about how my father had virtually no money on this trip, nearly died en route, but somehow made it via hitchhiking, fare-dodging and favours. As with many stories that we all hear about from our parents, the true significance and weight of their experience can only be felt as we get older. I have mentioned it, briefly, several times throughout this book (and, really, it deserves a book of its own!). Now let me tell the story in more detail. I am sure you will find it inspiring too.

My father was born in 1938 in a small village in rural Malaysia. He was the eldest of 12 children in a family that did not have a lot of money and was therefore reliant on the children bringing in what they could after they finished their schooling.

Dad had big dreams. He had read stories in newspapers about people backpacking around Europe and was inspired to go on his own adventure and try to backpack all the way to the UK – where he wanted to go to college and get a well-paid job; he wanted better opportunities than those he had in Malaysia, where he had been teaching as a temporary job. He felt this was the best way to help his family back at home, and the future family of his own that he hoped to have one day. He was a boy with big dreams. He'd been in the boy scouts, where he'd taught English to other scouts, and that had given him a sense of adventure and the necessary survival skills. But his parents were not at all keen to let him go; to them it sounded like a dangerous trip full of risks, and they were reliant on what my father could contribute to the household income. My father was convinced he could help them far more if he travelled to the UK and found a well-paid job so that he could send money home.

So, my father took matters into his own hands and started planning his route. Then he applied for a passport so he could travel. When he showed this to his parents, his father took it from him and locked it away in the family safe. But my father continued making his plans and on his intended day of departure, as soon as his father had left for work, Dad broke into the safe and took his passport back. He said an emotional goodbye to his mother and then made his way to the train station where he planned to board a train heading for the coast. His father, my grandfather, must have been alerted to his son's departure because he turned up at the train station just as the train doors were closing. Dad watched his father racing after the moving train, begging his son not to leave. I can't imagine how upsetting that was for both of them.

My father was obviously sad to leave, but he just didn't see his future in Malaysia.

From the coast, Dad and his friend, Yap, travelled on trains and boats, often hitchhiking as they had so little money, through Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Corfu, Italy and France on their route to the UK. The journey took four months. When he set out, he had £20 in his pocket; he arrived in the UK with just £1 to his name! He had a few contacts; for example, he had a letter of recommendation from his boy scout group and stayed with some fellow scouts in Sri Lanka, but he mostly relied on luck and the kindness of strangers.

On one section of the journey, as they were travelling across India by train, my father and Yap got arrested for fare-dodging (something many people were doing, so they considered themselves pretty unlucky in that moment!). They tried to get away with it by making up a story – my dad said to Yap, “I thought you were looking after the tickets” and Yap replied, “No, I gave them to you!” – but the ticket inspectors were not taken in. Dad and Yap were removed from the train and handed over to the stationmaster who put them in a cell, telling them that the local police were on their way. It was late and they ended up in the cell all night with the stationmaster treating them terribly. At one point, my dad asked for water; the station master just threw water at him, goading and tormenting him. Battling with the language barrier, Dad and Yap insisted that this treatment was completely unacceptable considering their “crime” was only a couple of lost tickets. They explained that they were Malaysian citizens and told the stationmaster to contact the Malaysian embassy. Whether he did, or whether the threat of what might happen to him if the authorities got involved scared him, the stationmaster's attitude changed the next day. He even made my father and Yap a meal and gave them tickets to get to their next destination within India!

My father and Yap met up with many other Malaysians who were trying to make their way to England during this trip. There were around 30 to 40 of them that he knew and saw along the way. They all went their separate ways after arriving in the UK (some returned to Asia after a time), but they kept in touch for years. Some of them write to each other to this day! During their trip, the Malaysian men would help each other where they could. Dad also always found help within the network of boy scouts. It was an international community and he knew he could turn up anywhere and find the scout leaders and maybe get some free food and shelter.

At some point, while my father was making his way across Pakistan, he became very ill with suspected food poisoning. He was admitted to hospital with a high temperature; he was vomiting and experiencing severe diarrhoea. At that time, with facilities in that part of the world so primitive, food poisoning could be fatal. After a few days, the doctors told Yap that there was a strong chance my dad would not survive.

With limited resources and choices, Yap decided to carry on towards England as planned. They were in survival mode, so this felt like a logical course of action to him. However, Dad did pull through and made a full recovery thanks to the free hospital care he received; he remembers the kindness of the doctors and nurses at that Indian hospital to this day. Somehow, because they'd had a specific route planned, Dad was able to catch up with Yap.

Dad recalls that one of the most frightening moments of the trip was being dropped off (by lorries they were hitchhiking in) in the middle of the desert as he journeyed from Iran into Turkey. He remembers walking in the blistering heat with the violent winds whipping up the sand so that their vision was almost totally obscured. At one point a Turkish shepherd approached him, brandishing a knife and demanding that Dad give him a cigarette. Dad explained that he didn't smoke but said he'd look in his bag to see if he had any. With extraordinary courage, as he pretended to be getting his backpack off his back to look for cigarettes, Dad suddenly swung his bag at the shepherd, hitting the guy in the face, and then ran off. He heard the shepherd shouting after him, chasing him, but Dad ran for his life without looking back.

A lighter moment occurred while Dad was journeying through Italy and realized he was causing quite a stir amongst the girls. He assumed they found him rather exotic because they hadn't encountered many Oriental men before. They would shout out, “I love you!” to Dad and other Malaysian men who were passing through the area. He's had a lifelong fondness for Italy!

Finally, Dad made it into France and hitchhiked his way to Calais. However, with only £1 left in his pocket, he discovered he didn't have enough for the £2 fare to cross the channel. He was devastated to be unable to get to his final destination having come so far, and in such hardship.

After sitting by the ferry station for several days, a captain – who had been back and forth between France and England a few times over those days and had noticed Dad sitting there – stopped to speak to him and asked him what he was doing there. Dad explained that he wanted to get to London to find work. The captain gave Dad the money for the fare along with his address, saying that Dad could pay back the money for the fare once he found a job.

Dad hitchhiked to London and made contact with a doctor, a contact he'd been given by a friend. The man put him up for a night and allowed him to have a hot bath. Dad says he remembers that bath to this day.

One of Dad's first priorities was to repay the captain who'd given him the ferry fare. He managed to get a job in the kitchens of the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, helping out in the bakery section, and as soon as he'd saved enough, travelled to the captain's house in Dover to repay him. The guy was apparently totally taken aback by my Dad's honesty – and very pleasantly surprised!

Finding work when you were an immigrant was far easier in those days. There wasn't nearly as much paperwork involved. You just showed up, showed skills and enthusiasm, and got hired. Malaysia had joined the Commonwealth in August 1957 (which is presumably why so many people were travelling to the UK), so my Dad didn't need a work permit. And British people were generally much more welcoming towards migrant workers at that time. This is sadly not so much the case these days; it is very upsetting to see immigrants get blamed for the problems in the UK when most come here with good intentions and a strong work ethic, just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

I never tire of hearing my father's stories about this incredible journey and the resilience and resourcefulness he had to find. He was so close to death several times, but his attitude was “I'll do it, or I'll die trying.” I don't know many people who are that determined. He never entertained the idea of turning back once he set out. He would keep going until something stopped him. Sometimes they had nothing to eat and would steal food from farms. They had nights sleeping in stables with animals, wondering if they might freeze to death. They had to do whatever they could to get food or shelter. Dad was very grateful to have his contacts within the scouts, but if he couldn't find a scout meeting, he might go into a church or temple and ask for help (pretending to subscribe to whatever religion they were promoting in order to connect with them!). They slept in schools, hostels, under railway arches… anywhere they could. Keeping warm was often a huge challenge and Dad remembers trading his beloved watch for a jacket at one point.

Choosing to leave his family was not a decision my father took lightly as a young man in Malaysia, and it required a huge amount of courage to embark into the unknown. It's still an emotive subject for him and he gets choked up talking about it even 60 years later! My father's survival spirit has always amazed and inspired me. He could have died so many times on that journey to England, but his dreams and goals kept him going whenever he encountered obstacles. And that has remained true throughout his life. He has had so many health problems. He had angina at 40, and had a heart bypass, but his love of life kept him going. He has never stopped. I've never known my dad to have a lie-in in his life. As soon as he's awake, he's raring to go. He has a huge circle of friends and loves spending time with them; he's very sociable. While I was growing up, those friends of my Dad's were like our relatives because they were like his family. I called most of them “auntie” and “uncle” this and that. When you go through life-changing experiences with people, and you end up in a foreign country with people who've had similar experiences to you, you obviously get very close to them; they do feel like family.

He recently went to Rome to catch up with some of the people he met on his travels as a young man.

I'm not quite as energetic as my father. I get tired sometimes and need a lie-in, or a complete weekend off. Not my dad… he literally never stops; I suppose that, when you have nearly lost your life a few times, it changes your perspective and you want to take advantage of every single moment that you have.

My real uncles and aunts, of course, were all still in Malaysia, as were my grandparents. When they were over in the UK with us in 1976 (when I was a baby), my parents took us all on a road trip. We drove around Europe on a shoestring budget, moving from campsite to campsite. This was a bold thing to do in the 1970s, but they both had hugely adventurous spirits. When you've risked life and limb to cross the world, when you've cheated death, everything else feels like a breeze!

Whenever I want to give up on something, I think of my dad's incredible journey and I get inspired. If Dad had given up at any point, if he'd not continued on his journey or had turned back, I wouldn't even be here. And my children wouldn't be here. And I wouldn't have built my company and (I impress upon my team) wouldn't have had any jobs to offer anyone.

Whatever you do in life has massive wider implications in the world. Your aspirations, no matter what they are, will always affect other people – even people who haven't yet been born. Everything you do changes lives. We are almost being selfish when we give up on what we desire to achieve. The world is an ever-evolving place and what you do today will automatically affect people tomorrow, so make as many positive achievements as you can while you are still alive.

If you give up on your goals, you don’t just give up on you, you give up on everyone.

The “12th Man”

The second story that I remind myself of whenever I need a little extra encouragement to keep going with something I'm finding challenging, takes us back to my football roots because it's a story involving Liverpool Football Club, and the Champions League final of 2005.

On 25 May 2005, Liverpool was set to meet A.C. Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final in Istanbul. It was a momentous occasion because, although we'd won the European championships on four previous occasions, we hadn't been in the final for 20 years – since 1985 when we lost to Juventus at the Heysel Stadium, after the riots that cost so many lives and resulted in English teams being banned from competing in Europe for several years.

The game did not start out well for Liverpool. We were completely outplayed by Milan in the first half and we went into the second half 3-0 down to them. Our then manager, Rafael Benítez, had no choice but to make some major changes in the second half. He brought on a substitution (Dietmar Hamann replaced Steve Finnan) and changed the formation from 4–4–1–1 to 3–5–2. I don't think any Liverpool fan will forget the moment when Steven Gerrard scored in the 54th minute. Suddenly, it was a different game. It wasn't just the goal, it was Gerrard's reaction – he ran in front of the crowd, raising his arms again and again, shouting “Come on!” and the crowd went crazy. It was electrifying.

People talk about the Anfield crowd (whether at home or away) being “the 12th man” and at no time have I ever seen this proved more true than in that game. The fans were fantastic, rallying behind the players and reminding them not to give up. Two more goals came in quick succession: Šmicer and Alonso both scored (Alonso's a rebound off his penalty that the Milan keeper had saved). Suddenly the score was even and as much as Milan fought on, we held them to a draw. So, we went into extra time, which did not produce any more goals – although there was a heart-in-the-mouth moment when Milan made a great strike, but thankfully our goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, saved it.

Suddenly the final was being decided on penalties.

Milan took the first penalty but Dudek successfully distracted their player by jumping up and down in moves reminiscent of our former goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar, who used his “spaghetti” legs tactic to help us win the 1984 European cup against Roma when that went to a penalty shootout. Dudek went on to save a further two out of the next four penalties from Milan, while we scored a total of three out of four, which resulted in us winning the cup 2-3 on penalties.

What an emotional rollercoaster! We went through everything – the devastation as we went down by three goals before half time, the chink of hope as we scored once, and then twice…the pure joy as we got that equalizing goal, then the nail biting finish – the mounting anxiety as we went through the penalty shootout. I don't think I dared to believe we could actually do it until that moment when Dudek caused the Milan player to miss that first penalty.

If anyone had told me at half time that we had the remotest chance of winning that game, I wouldn't have believed it. We were all just longing for it to finish so we could go off and drown our sorrows. Even when Gerrard scored to take us to 3-1, we didn't want to get our hopes up. But the game is never over until the final whistle blows! And whenever I feel like the odds are stacked against me in some scenario, I always think of this game and hear, in my head, Stevie Gerrard's voice shouting “COME ON!” and the huge roar of the crowd. It really helps.

At that time in my life, I really needed encouragement, too. Brandon had just been born (he was around 6 months old). In fact, I remember watching the game at my in-laws' house in Ealing; Samantha was upstairs feeding Brandon as that third and equalizing goal went in. I had also just started my business. We had experienced the flood in the new house, and things were all a bit stressful. I was really starting to wonder if I could achieve everything I'd set out to do. After that game, I never again let myself give up. I thought of the whole of my life being a football game – sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind, but it's never over until the final whistle blows (i.e. you're dead!).

Whenever I need an extra boost to help get my life goals over the line, I think of all the desire and sheer resilience that the whole of Liverpool FC (squad, management, coaches and fans) displayed in that game.

Even when the odds are against you, it's never over until it's over. That's a mindset we could all do with applying more often. You really can achieve whatever you want in life if you put your mind to it. But you have to believe it and stay in the game. Many top footballers talk of using visualization. They know they need practical, physical skills, but the extra ingredient is the power to see what you want to achieve. They vividly picture what it will look like as they score that goal, or as they win that match, or lift that championship medal, before it happens. Many athletes do this. Sports psychology is a huge subject these days.

If you quit, you will never win. You have to stay in the game to have any chance of succeeding, and that applies to everything we want to achieve in life. You have to create the mindset of a winner. If you don't believe in your ability win, or if you give up, you have no chance at all.

It takes a split second to score a goal and change the outcome of a game; it takes one second to change your destiny in life. While you stay in the game with the full belief that the moment will eventually come, you have a chance of winning. If you quit, you can never win; there is a 100% guarantee that whatever you want is not going to happen.

I have seen people's lives change fundamentally, in one moment. One of the most life-changing events anyone can go through is the birth of your child. Nothing is the same after that. From the instant your child is born, that is it, you are a parent, and you have to take care of that new life; it's up to you to make sure that baby is fed and sheltered and protected. It's a huge responsibility and not one that anyone should take lightly, but it is also the most wonderful feeling in the world. Nothing… I mean, nothing… has ever come close to the exact feeling I had when my first child was born.

I occasionally see this in other people. Recently, one of my top mortgage consultants told me he'd had a baby girl. I was really happy for him, but I took a minute to marvel at how dramatically his life has changed since I've known him. When he first started with us, he was a single “Jack the Lad” – always out at parties and going on holidays with the boys to Ibiza. I have watched him find the right woman, settle down and now start a family.

Kids change everything. My kids steer me. I know what I have to achieve in life because I know what I want to provide my kids with. But kids bring a whole new level of anxiety into your life, as Samantha and I experienced when Ryan was born.

If Ryan Can Do It…

As everything had gone to plan with Brandon's birth, we assumed we knew what we were in for when we were expecting Ryan. But life has a way of tripping you up when you least expect it.

Ryan was born prematurely. He was born at 31 weeks, which is two months premature, weighing only 4 lb. It was quite a touch-and-go situation. He was in hospital for the first four weeks of his life and I don't think I have ever been so scared. But we had to continue to believe that he would be okay. We couldn't give up on him. He fought against the odds and lived. In many ways, Ryan's fight, to stay alive, is the most inspirational story I know!

Would I have fought as hard as I did during the credit crunch to keep my business alive if I hadn't just witnessed Ryan doing the same thing? I don't know. But when the crash happened, hitting me like a truck just after Ryan's birth – testing me to my limits – I thought of his fight many times and it kept me going. If that tiny baby can survive against all odds, I thought, I certainly can.

Having started a business from scratch as a total rookie, I was already operating at full capacity, having taken on as much as I could handle. Things were going well in the middle of 2007. We had just had our first full induction day, when we gave extensive training to the whole team. Although this coincided with a stressful time in my home life, with Ryan's life hanging in the balance, I was happy with where my business was.

Just after Ryan's birth, in the summer of 2007, I felt the ripples of change in the industry. Banks were starting to let us know that they were going out of business. We were dealing with around 60–70 banks at that time and we were getting messages from many of them saying that they weren't lending any more. (Most people are only familiar with the popular high-street banks and a few of the big investment banks, but there are countless banks that specialize in different types of lending and financial products.)

The general public weren't really aware of what was happening until September, when there was a very visible “bank run” (news reports showed people queuing up outside the bank to pull out all their savings). Consumer confidence was hit hard, and many banks went bust. By March 2008, when the global investment bank, Bear Stearns, was taken over by JP Morgan, everyone was in a panic. When Lehman Brothers – one of the oldest investment banks in the world – collapsed in September of that year, we all knew that everything had changed.

Looking back, maybe we should have known it would end at some point.

Until the 1980s, banking was tightly regulated. Our currency was linked to the Gold Standard, like most of the world's major currencies, and we were pre-digitization. Stocks were still trading on paper, on the trading floor. As of 27 October 1986, known as “the big bang” in the financial world, everything was up for grabs. Fixed commission charges were abolished, meaning that traders could charge what they liked for making money for people – and almost anyone could broker deals. On that day, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) went electronic so that trades could be made on computer screens rather than only being called out verbally and confirmed on paper contracts. Until the Financial Services Authority (FSA) was created and given proper powers, the then largely self-regulated banking world was reminiscent of the Wild West with a kind of lawlessness prevailing!

The repercussions of all of this, which led to the collapse of Barings, the London merchant bank, in the mid-90s, really laid the foundations of what eventually resulted in the subprime mortgage scandal and global economic crisis ten years later.

When everything is built on debt, there is no real foundation; it's just a house of cards. It all went a little crazy back then, with lenders handing out 100% mortgages to people who “self-certified” by lying about their income. People took up huge mortgages but couldn't really afford the repayments, especially if they were linked to interest rates that were constantly fluctuating and set by the banks themselves. Banks got silly and made it too easy, lending to people who had no security, allowing people to borrow more than the loan-to-value on a property in order to have some extra cash to spend on renovations (which they had no obligation to do); people assumed house prices would continue to skyrocket indefinitely, so there was a feeding frenzy of people trying to get on the property ladder around the late 1990s. When people defaulted, banks just packaged up the bad debts and sold them on (what became known as the “subprime mortgage market”) but it couldn't go on forever and in 2007 it reached breaking point.

From my point of view, in real terms (to give you some idea of the scale of the crisis), I saw the size of the buy-to-let mortgage market drop from £40 billion to £8 billion in about a year (from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2009) – that is what you would describe as “falling off a cliff edge”! We were dying a slow and painful death as banks dropped like flies. For example, 40% of our business came from “Mortgage Express” which was part of the Bradford & Bingley Group, another victim of the credit crunch. They stopped lending in early 2008. That was when I really knew the gig was up and I had to call a meeting.

I remember being very emotional as I explained to my hard-working team that we were going to have to make redundancies. My voice cracked as I stood up in front of 30 people and told them that they were all “under consideration” for redundancy in accordance with HR policy. At that time, I managed to persuade both my director partners to keep going; but by the summer one had left, and the other left the following year. We eventually relocated from Guildford to Camberley and I had a skeleton team of five people in total including myself, three of whom are still working with me to this day.

It was excruciating, after the high of going from 0 to 30 staff, suddenly to be down to a small handful of people. We didn't grow much at all from 2009 to 2011. However, the fact that we did keep going, that we did whatever we could, is testament to my survival spirit, which, as well as being driven by baby Ryan's courage and my father’s determination during his epic journey, was always inspired by Liverpool's dramatic comeback in Istanbul in 2005.

I was 3-0 down for many years, but I refused to give up.

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

Obviously, I was luckier than many people; some really lost everything during those years in the wilderness. Fortunately, I had my property portfolio to fall back on. The children were young and we could put off sending them to private school (I know many people who had to pull their older children out of private school, at critical times in their educational lives!). And out of all obstacles come opportunities. The flipside was that the housing market crashed. I had some liquid cash available to buy some low-priced properties to add to my portfolio, so I did a few development projects that paid off and kept my family afloat.

Throughout it all, one thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I'd built up a respectable business once, so I knew I could do so again. We had gone down to the bare bones of our workforce, but I never lost sight of the dream that I could build it up again. I knew that, as long as we kept surviving, our profile, as a brand, grew stronger. People expected us to go out of business like everyone else, but we didn't; we held fast. Even when the media was reporting that the buy-to-let business was dead, I never let my belief falter. There are lenders we work with today that give us kudos simply for getting through that time. They respect us because we survived.

The whole financial services world changed as it recovered, regulation became harder and more complex, lenders were more cautious – they didn't let people abuse self-certified mortgages the way they used to, and many of my competitors found it too hard to stay the course; but nothing could shake us, we simply changed with the changing times. Ultimately, I think it was a good thing that the industry broke down; it has made the market a better, more ethical place. Sometimes, when a system is broken, it has to completely destroy itself in order to rise from the ashes. At the time of writing, I wonder if we are about to witness the collapse of the old political systems. They certainly seem to be broken. Brexit, and Trump's presidency, both seem to have exposed huge flaws in the systems we have trusted for years. It will be very interesting to see how our political systems change over the next ten years or so, how they respond to the insurgence of the far-right parties and increasing populism.

We do need government in some form though; it was governments that saved us from the banking crisis. We thought the big banks were indestructible, but it turns out they were as fallible as any self-regulated institution. Governments had to take ownership and save us from complete economic meltdown. They saved us. I don't think most people realize quite how dangerous it was; it was a very precarious time. Without the intervention of the world's major governments, the financial system upon which we all base our lives would have disappeared completely and we'd be living in a totally different reality!

The first time I learnt that loss gives you an opportunity to change was when I had my valuables stolen out of my car. I lost irreplaceable things; it took me a while to get used to the idea that I would never see them again. But that painful experience made me change. I made myself into a better, more careful and measured person as a result.

The financial services industry is in a much better place now as a result of the credit crunch; no more irresponsible lending (although who knows if, forced to compete again, we could see the return of easier lending and the whole crisis happen again as part of a vicious cycle!). I also pray that we heed the lessons of the past, and that we find the right balance in our democracies again… which in fact could be immaterial if we don't change the way we are affecting the natural world through our effect on climate.

We change out of crisis. It's a natural part of evolution. We learn by watching the revolutionaries adapt; they are the survivors and their survival informs the way we live.

The financial world is still adapting to this day; and being a survivor, I pre-empted how my industry would change. In 2018, I started to make plans for a major rebrand. We relaunched in 2019 as a response to increasing digitization. It was a bold move as we were well known in the market, so it was a risk, but one that I felt was necessary for our continued success and to stay competitive and relevant. We have evolved into a more diverse and digitized financial services company, dealing with a range of products, not just buy-to-let mortgages.

Until the Final Whistle Blows

I have learnt that if you don't evolve you will get left behind. Change is not easy; but adaptation is a necessary survival tactic. You have to change to survive, just as Benítez changed the playing formation in the second half of the 2005 Champions League final; just as my dad had to adjust his plans when he got to England and got married and had to work instead of going to college so that he could support his family. When you stand still, it is like giving up. You change to survive; you have to keep playing to stay in the game.

I will keep playing; I will stay in the game… until the final whistle blows!

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