Charlotte Local, head of conveyancing at enact
Charlotte, can you tell us a bit about your career to date?
I started my conveyancing career working for a small firm of solicitors in Leeds. In 1999, I joined what was then Addleshaw Booth & Co., at the point that they rebranded their housing division as ‘enact’. I recall it being a really exciting time to join; the energy and enthusiasm of everybody within the firm was obvious from day one and I knew it would give me the challenge I was looking for. Enact is well known for having a very good training & development program and as a result I was sponsored through my ILEX qualification, whilst gaining invaluable on the job conveyancing experience. As my career has progressed, I’ve held a number of roles across the business, culminating in my current role as head of Transactional Conveyancing.
What does your role at enact involve on a day-to-day basis?
I'm responsible for the overall service delivery to our conveyancing clients and referrers. There are countless elements which need to synchronise to ensure strong service delivery which means my role is extremely varied but at the same time very fulfilling. No two days are the same but the key components of my role include; managing client relationships, operations management, HR, training and development, resource planning and change management.
Can you tell us a bit about enact as a business?
We are the largest direct conveyancer, with approximately one in four remortgages being transacted through our business. Alongside this, we are also the 10th largest transactional conveyancer in England & Wales. We employ 400 people at our operation in the centre of Leeds, and expect this to grow to in excess of 500 over the next 18-24 months. We are a very progressive business and this is perhaps best evidenced by our industry-leading IT and a strong ethos of continuous improvement generally.
What type of business are you attracting and from whom?
On the remortgage side of the business, we are chosen by lenders as trusted providers and our strong reputation means that we are proud to have some of the best lending brands as clients. We work for eight of the top 10 lending brands in the UK. For transactional conveyancing, our main sources of business are estate agents (either direct or through our sister company The Live Organisation, a leading panel manager), lenders and developers.
The conveyancing market has gone through huge changes so how do you stay one step ahead?
It sounds a cliché but the key to our success will always be our people. I’m a firm believer that with the right people in an organisation you can succeed in most areas. We place a lot of emphasis on attracting and retaining high quality staff and this has meant that we have been able to grow our business where others have struggled. We have the largest training team within the industry to equip our people with the skills they need to be exceptional in what they do. Having made this investment in our people, we strive to retain them by operating a true meritocracy where career progression is based on merit. The great thing about working for a large organisation is that there are always opportunities for good people to progress.
What’s next for enact?
Our strategy is very much one of managed growth. As both the remortgage and transactional markets continue to grow, our focus is on ensuring that we manage our capacity closely so that our service levels remain high and we continue to meet client expectations.
Residential conveyancing is going through a resurgence right now but do you have any predictions for the next 12 months?
We know that even with the resurgence, conveyancing transaction levels are still circa 35% lower than they were in 2006 and 2007. I'm not expecting the market to continue to grow at the rate it has over the last 12 months, but I do think the only way is up where volumes are concerned – it’s just at what rate.
You recruit on a regular basis so what type of positions are you looking to fill at the moment?
It is no surprise that we are always looking for talented conveyancers. We know that, in order to be the best at what we do, we have to have the best people. This means that we always want to talk to conveyancers, whether we have a pressing need for additional resource or not. If we meet a conveyancer who we think has what it takes, we will create an opportunity - we're always confident that we can win additional business to keep good people busy.
In addition to this, we are currently recruiting the second intake for our training academy, which is due to commence in September. The academy is our in-house apprenticeship scheme for trainee licensed conveyancers; a four-year intensive vocational training program aimed at school/college leavers who have completed ‘A’ levels (or equivalent) but chosen to start their career rather than go to university. Academy trainees are sponsored by us to complete their CLC qualification whilst at the same time receiving vocational training and gaining the valuable experience required to shape them into excellent residential conveyancers. And, of course, earning a good salary whilst doing so!
Can you sum up why enact is a great place to work?
We offer careers, not jobs. I'm living proof!