Q. Has the industry changed drastically since you started working in it?
A. 2020 has been a year like no other, but despite the peaks and troughs, I am very grateful that our industry is alive and well, which is certainly not the case in many other industries. I am extremely confident that we will come through this period and be in a strong position to thrive next year and beyond. One thing this year has done is accelerate many of the forces of change which have been acting in the market for some time. I remember back when I started working closely with the legal sector, almost 15-years ago, I was surprised even then by the sheer quantity of manual or paper-based tasks and it’s even more surprising to consider how many of those tasks still exist today. Whilst there has of course been change over the intervening years, it’s seismic events like those seen this year which act as the greatest impetus to change, and we are starting to see greater adoption of digital-first tasks, data-sharing and client communication.
Q. What has been the key positive or negative impact of change in your area of the market?
A. 15 years ago all the talk was about outsourcing and methods of production. I have never been convinced that changing the people in a people-centric business model is the right thing to do, and instead believe that if we can develop the right technologies, we can empower individuals to make the process easier for all parties. This is especially true when you are dealing with a market like conveyancing that operates with so many external parties. At the moment there is a somewhat opaque process driven by SLAs between the various parties, lenders, estate agents, surveyors, etc. This can create a poor customer experience and often creates delays, but from my perspective creates an exciting opportunity for a technology-enabled business like tmgroup.
I have never been convinced that changing the people in a people-centric business model is the right thing to do
Q. Who inspires/inspired you and why?
A. I’ve always been driven to succeed, and that’s always been about working hard and collaboratively with others. I think my background has helped in building strong relationships and in being able to empathise and communicate at many levels, as well as setting people around me a clear path to success. I’ve worked closely with some very senior and intelligent leaders over the years, and I’ve always seen every role I’ve fulfilled as an opportunity to learn. If I had to pick one person who helped give me the confidence and set me on my path, it would be a senior manager at my first real job back in the mid-1990s called Elizabeth Kramer. Elizabeth was absolutely driven to succeed, and has subsequently gone on to be a very successful businesswoman back in the US. She showed me how you can combine a strong moral sense of doing the ‘right thing’, with a determination to work hard with colleagues to achieve a common goal.
Q. What has been the most valuable piece of advice given to you?
A. Don’t do anything unless you are prepared to stand on a table in front of all your customers and employees and explain what you did and why.
Q. If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
A. If I weren’t doing what I am today I think I’d still be looking at making a difference through the development and adoption of new technology. Technology is just another tool, and as a species we have been honing and developing tools throughout our existence, and that pace is consistently increasing. If I ever ceased doing that in the UK and if I ever had the freedom to do so, then I’d love to be able to work overseas to support developing economies, although more realistically it would be increasing the work I am able to do in my local community.
Joe Pepper | Chief Executive Officer | tmgroup
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