The Five Minute Interview with Derek McPhail, Co-founder, Your Expert Group
Following the sale of his personal debt solutions business in late 2017, Peter Dean and fellow Chartered Accountant, Derek McPhail established Your Expert Group as a disruptive entrant to the financial services market providing a corporate approach to a range of financial products to consumers.
Your Expert Group currently offer advice to over-indebted consumers on a wide range of financial products including mortgages and secured loans where this is a more appropriate and sustainable solution to an individual entering an insolvency process. In the first 3 months,Your Expert Group have arranged almost £500,000 of secured loans.
We speak to co-founder Derek McPhail:
What is the best thing about being in the specialist finance business?
For me, it’s probably how it’s the polar opposite of traditional box-ticking high street finance. Applications are often unique and present their own set of challenges, which involves you having to engage your brain and often be lateral in order to find a solution. It’s also a sector with significant growth potential and commercial opportunities, which is exciting in itself. The days when you only ever went to a high street bank for your finance are well and truly over. And while so much has changed since the Global Financial Crisis, the fact remains that the alternative finance revolution is still in its infancy.
What keeps you focused?
Like many other people reading this, having a wife and kids keeps you focused by default. You have to work and stay focused just to keep the whole show on the road. Having your own business also keeps your mind on the job, as it brings with it responsibility and pressure. Lastly, I also enjoy what I do, and that makes it a lot easier to commit time and energy to my work.
What qualities do you look for in your employees or colleagues?
First and foremost I want to see a bit of dynamism and spark. You also want to work with people who are a laugh – work doesn’t have to be boring and companies don’t need to be intrinsically corporate. What I’m not fussed about is people with endless letters after their names. MBAs, in my book, tend to be Masters of Bugger All. Intelligence and a bit of pizzazz are what you want in an employee or colleague.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Neither, I’m a realist.
What did you want to be as a child?
I can’t remember that far back, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to be a chartered accountant. But in fairness, I’ve enjoyed my career a lot to date and it’s been very rewarding so I can’t complain.
What will be the greatest challenge facing the specialist finance industry in the coming months?
Competition is certainly up there as one of the key challenges. Specialist finance is a major growth sector and we’re seeing more and more lenders and specialist brokers emerge. The key is to be able to differentiate yourself or find a niche or geography that you can own, or at least wield considerable influence in. But as a company we like a challenge and for us competition is a positive – it keeps you on your toes, which ultimately benefits both you and the end user.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Anyone with a dry and dark sense of humour.
Do you dread Monday mornings?
Not at all. If you’re working for yourself, every morning is Monday morning but you thrive on it. You have to because the buck stops with you.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
How long have you got?
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
We live in a politically correct world where saying what you think is increasingly frowned upon, so I won’t name my first choice; but Stephen Fry is probably my second.