Those seven words sum up the start of my year. After a truly lovely Christmas in Paris, I’ve been so hard at work that if it all added up into miles, I would be ready to book a free holiday now.
It’s been tough but interesting; so much so that it would almost be a shame not to share it!
Tagged as ‘miss logic’ in school, I’m known to dissect and analyse situations; trying to figure a method in the madness. On a more philosophical level, I believe that things happen for a reason, and no matter what happens, there is always a lesson to be learnt.
As a day job, I fly the flag for good client outcomes and if you’ve ever met me, you would know that simplification and end-to-end thinking are woven into my existence. Let’s just say, I’m keen on ‘lean’, and a process must make sense, through the customer lens.
So somewhere in this period, I bought a flat. Seemed simple at the start, download Zoopla, pick a place, and get the ball rolling. It was my first house purchase in England and I thought I did my homework. But no amount of coffee chats with friends could have prepared me for what was to come.
Though I have now moved in, I don’t think I still quite get who does what between the various people that I have had to deal with. While I worked my way through dealings with a myriad of agents, mortgage advisors, solicitors, etc (with a few sleepless nights), I’m still wondering if this should have been simpler? I mean with c. 100,000 or more properties sold in the UK every month, perhaps it’s a process well worth simplifying. Could there be a single point of contact to help buyers with the navigation? Is it equally cumbersome for the seller? And let’s not talk about my endeavour to pin down accountability – for that, I may need to write a book.
And then there’s the complexity in the sub parts. I remember waking up to an email with 18 or so attachments and my solicitor asking if he could proceed. I mean seriously, have you ever heard of a thing such as a chancel check and a ‘potential chancel repair liability’? I’m intrigued as to what that really means and if this potential liability could ever materialise? As a nation, how long have we done these checks and how long will we continue to do them? How much of this could fit into pure admin that adds no value to anyone? Even at a cost of £2 per chancel check, it adds up to about £2.4 million each year!
And then on another note, there was an agency (a pretty responsible one) that misplaced an application (a very serious one) – and my originals too. Guess that by this time I was so well conditioned that I didn’t react too much – so almost as if to spice things up a bit they decided to ask me for an admin fee! Exactly, a fee so that they could resume my case, which technically, should have been closed by now if it was done right the first time.
Anyway, it gets even better with January being interspersed with travel strikes in London. As the most intelligent living things on the planet, do we not have enough on our plate from unforeseen events (Malaysian Airlines) and events somewhat outside our control (Paris attacks) that we call upon ourselves more chaos? Collectively, should we not channel our energies into living a peaceful life while we have the opportunity to do so?
So what’s my key take away?
- Working at a bank, I feel it’s trendy to dislike bankers and impose new regulations each time we mess up, or even when we don’t. But I wonder if we are missing a trick here? About one in 14 of the UK workforce works in the financial services – where are the other 13? Banks, after all, are only a microcosm of the society and if we really want to push the pedal towards a better future, are there not broader, systemic questions waiting to be answered? Questions on what we call broken and what we choose to fix? Questions on how much to accept and how much to change?
- It’s not personal, it’s the system. Broadly speaking, people want to do the right thing and believe that they are. Even in the above experiences, my property agents may believe they are in the business of helping people get their dream home (which they are) and much as I dislike strikes, they too reflect a passion for change.
And finally, as I write this post from the comfort of my new home, sipping my green tea (Twining, with salted caramel – highly recommended!), my journey to this place makes me appreciate each sip that little bit more. And while there will always be questions to be answered, there is today to be grateful for.
As Max Ehrmann goes on to say, “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’