One of the first business books I read was Snowball by the Sage of Omaha, Mr Warren The Buffet. He is one of the richest guys in the world and is well known for the following quote. “Be greedy when people are fearful, be fearful when people are greedy”.
This is something that I have thought a lot about given I have been working in the property industry nearly fifteen odd years now.
If we look back on the property crash and subsequent global financial crisis in 2007, the quotation is never too far away from the route of many of the world’s problems if analysed correctly.
There is no doubt about it, the world we live in today is a very dangerous place and this word "fear" keeps raising its head. The Wikipedia definition of fear is;
“An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm."
In or Out
Most of us are at this stage aware of the “in or out” vote on the EU referendum that is coming up in just over two months time, and again this word Fear has come up, as many of our politicians are using the term “Project Fear” to describe a side of the argument they are pushing. For me a very interesting way to talk about something so serious. You would nearly think our politicians are trying to force us into a scenario based on a very sub conscious threatening style of behavior – very interesting.
In the last twelve months unfortunately this word fear continues to raise its head with many families, individuals and businesses who were unfortunate enough to have their property loans sold to private equity vulture funds. This has been an incredible development really given the fact that the parties who are buying these loans are not regulated by any body and for the most part have the run of the country. To illuminate the situation anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in Ulster Banks property department since 2010, are at this stage pretty much “punch drunk” given the banks well documented stance in dealing with legacy debt challenges.
As a borrower and to now be asked to deal with a ferocious American hedge fund, well the word fear probably doesn’t do that scenario any real justice.
The seventy thousand or so families who are living under the threat of negative equity are also living under the threat of fear. They feel this as many of them cannot see how they, their business or their families are going to get out of that hugely distressing situation, Its something that doesn’t sit well with me personally and its one if the reasons why both myself and my team get up in the morning to try and find a solution to these type of challenges.
It seems so long ago now that there was an air of hope and anticipation bringing in the new millennium. The emotions I had at that time, as a young man was one of excitement and adventure. Fast forward sixteen years and as we are in the thrust of another five years of austerity, and given what has happened across the country in the last eight years, I think it would be fair to say that this word fear has been a constant in many of our own lives.
I decided in 2010 along with my business partner James Gibbons that as opposed to concentrating on fear we would focus all of our energy on hope, and do this by bringing a new business to the market place. Five years on and we are the leading firm of property debt advisors in the country and the only firm regulated by the financial conduct authority.
Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large.
We have been passionate about trying to bring some hope into play in Belfast and across the country over the years and have been successful in bringing this into many peoples lives by being able to get them out of difficult financial situations and get on with their lives. It’s this hope that has been the catalyst for our success in business and it is hope that has allowed us, and our team to make such an impact on a small country.
Maybe if others used hope, as a mechanism to persuade people and get to the outcome they so desire, they maybe more successful in getting what they want.
It sounds so simple but maybe some people in society actually get their kicks out of fear, and it would appear that unfortunately that is the reality of the world we live in today.
Conor Devine MRICS – Twitter conor_devine