That’s life in the insurance industry – one minute you’re a teenager starting work with no qualifications and the next you’re balancing your work as a TV star known as the “the landlord’s friend” with a promotion to the role of chief commercial officer on the board of Hamilton Fraser. Speaking with Insurance Business, Paul Shamplina (pictured) highlighted the journey his career to date has taken, and the balancing act that is juggling his broking role with his media work.
“I do radio work, but most people know me for my show ‘Nightmare Tenants’ where I just show it like it is,” he said. “And that’s quite time consuming. I ended filming just before the first lockdown hit and they’ve just released the series now. It’s a popular series and it’s shown around the world, because it is balanced. It shows the landlord’s plight of tenants not paying their rent and the costs and stresses caused by that. But it also exposes rogue landlords and criminal landlords that take advantage of tenants to make money.”
Being named chief commercial officer means Shamplina will be responsible for overseeing sales for the whole group and, with a staff of some 220 people, of which the vast majority are still working from home, the role comes with its challenges. However, the brokerage is lucky to have a great team, he said, who are prepared to work through these challenges for the benefit of their clients. He paid tribute to Hamilton Fraser’s CEO Eddie Hooker, who as one of the founding shareholders of the business, has instilled its strong culture and maintained this along its growth journey.
“We’ve got great people here, and I have used my name, and my awareness from helping landlords for almost 30 years now, for educating,” he said. “We’re all about trying to raise standards at Hamilton Fraser and protecting landlords. There’s more and more regulation coming in down the horizon… It’s harder now to manage a property as a landlord than ever before. And landlords have got to understand where they’re at with their property journey, or if they need to get a letting agent to fully manage that.”
The market in which he and Hamilton Fraser operate is a strange market, Shamplina said. The housing market has been pretty buoyant due to stamp duty concessions, which may extend further, and the furlough scheme has helped a lot of people. Maintaining thought leadership initiatives has been key to keeping clients up to date, and he noted that his recent webinar on rental arrears and evictions had over 1,900 registrations.
It is in this area of advising clients that the real value of a broker or agent lies and he noted that the specialisms that Hamilton Fraser deals with are two of the sectors most challenged by the COVID crisis – the private rentals market and the aesthetics insurance market.
The aesthetics business sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic as it was the last industry to open up when lockdown initially subsided. Shamplina and his team have been supporting practitioners’ education on where they stand and what the future might hold. Meanwhile, while the rental market has seen a strong demand for its services, it faces further regulation and requires expert advice around evictions due to the ban implemented by the courts.
“It can be challenging but engagement and communication have been key,” he said. “Before we left the office for the first lockdown when no-one knew what was going to change, I said to our management team that we have to engage our clients. It’s just so important. For me, during the first lockdown, I was doing events every day. I was doing webinars, Facebook Live, engagements and Press calls. And I was also reaching out to landlords and tenants because they needed advice.”
For Shamplina, his real passion lies in providing support and advice to the market and he noted that this is something that has never waned throughout his career. Drawing on the experience he has gathered through undertaking a broad variety of roles in this space, he said that if he could give a key piece of advice to landlords it would be that they must start to consider renting as a business and themselves as professionals.
“Even if you’ve got just one or two properties,” he said. “working on your customer and treating your tenants as customers is essential. A lot of what is happening in the Press is showing the ‘tenant divide’ and that doesn’t help because there are so many landlords that give amazing service. Landlords are having a really tough time and they’ve been demonised as greedy.
“But I can tell you 80% to 90% of landlords have one or two properties, and we literally have had landlords crying down the phone to us. [As the founder of Landlord Action] if I could give advice directly to landlords, it would be to treat this as a business and put a price on your time. For a tenant, I would say you need to understand your tenancy agreement and, more importantly, try and qualify your landlord a bit better.”