Marc Elliott is the British expat and brains behind Fluent Finance Abroad, the mortgage specialists based in San Pedro de Alcántara, Marbella.Providing clients with the most appropriate form of finance to purchase their dream home abroad, Marc – being half Spanish – has taken to life on the Costa del Sol like the proverbial duck to water. When he’s not hard at work sorting out people’s mortgages, Marc can be found relaxing on the beaches of Conil in Cádiz or occasionally belting out some top tunes in a karaoke bar…
What brought you to the Costa del Sol?
I am half Spanish, on my mother’s side, and therefore have been coming to Spain since I was a child so I have always wanted to live and work in Spain at some point in my life. Luckily I was offered to come to Spain and work as a mortgage consultant specialising in the Spanish mortgage market. The chance came about due to the qualifications I’d obtained in the UK and the fact that I was fluent in Spanish. I was 29 when I left London to move to Marbella.
Your life before relocating to the Costa del Sol?
At the time of leaving the UK I was working in the UK mortgage industry in London for a company called Mortgage Next. I owned my property which I rented out and I was establishing myself in the mortgage business in the UK.
Why and how did you come to set up Fluent Finance Abroad?
Having worked under strict regulations in the UK I was completely taken aback when I started working in Spain. Advisers in the UK are under constant pressure to pass exams and comply with mortgage rules protecting lenders and consumers. Unfortunately, in Spain there were/are NO rules regulating mortgage advice or practice so the mortgage market here was a free-for-all and that basically scared the hell out of me. The banks were out of control and had massive gaps/loopholes in their lending policies which people that advised on mortgages here (meaning absolutely anyone with or without any financial background) could sell Spanish mortgage products. Some were responsible but many others took full advantage of the holes and encouraged irresponsible lending. I tried working for a couple of companies but in the end I decided that I had the skills to create a responsible, knowledgeable and truly independent mortgage consultancy which made sure that both lenders and consumers were properly looked after. I believe that I have achieved that and I am looking forward to developing the business so that we can ensure we help more people have successful long term relationships with Spanish lenders.
Tell us about what you do and what it involves
As above, but to add, we ensure that we are 100% up to date with lending policies with all Spanish mortgage providers. We then try and explain that criteria to potential Spanish mortgage borrowers and see which provider would best suit their needs to ensure that the transaction with be a successful one at the point of sale and through to the termination of the mortgage. We make sure that we explain each case to the lenders in great detail, in their language, so that they have the correct understanding of each client’s application to ensure confidence that they are lending the correct amount to the correct people. It isn’t as easy as you may think, as you need to explain a client’s fiscal situation which exists in a different country with different rules and ways of doing things. This is why I feel that being able to communicate well with lenders and clients is essential to this business.
How do you start your day?
I normally wake early, get ready, say goodbye to my partner and make sure that our dog, Cindy, gets off to Doggy Day Care safely. Then it’s off to the office, set up, go for a coffee and a small breakfast with the team. It’s a nice way to start the day if I am honest.
What part of your work do you enjoy most?
Completing on each deal and helping people realise their dreams.
What motivates you?
Doing good work and being able to make people better off financially with the advice we give. I also enjoy being able to create employment for good people in their area of expertise.
And when you’re not working?
I do enjoy time away from work and I love to spend time with friends and family, good food, wine, sports, music and generally enjoying myself and others.
What do you love best about your Costa del Sol lifestyle?
Lots of things but the Spanish culture and the beautiful weather are real positives for me.
Your favourite beach?
I do love the beaches on the coast in Cádiz. Conil is a particular favourite of mine but I also enjoy going to lakes up in the mountains.
Your favourite Sunday lunch venue?
The Hogan Stand in San Pedro de Alcántara… very good value for money and excellent food.
Your favourite Spanish dish?
I do really enjoy shellfish in a Chiringuito on the beach, especially with the good bottle of white wine nicely chilled.
Preferred night out with friends/family?
Anywhere with good food and maybe a little dance later on. My girlfriend Kelly loves a bit of karaoke so she might drag me into a bar for a sing song!
Jump in the car at the weekend, where do you head?
North to the mountains, Sierra de Grazalema is always a good choice, El Chorro lakes near Málaga or the airport for a break slightly further afield.
Have you had the opportunity to travel much in Spain?
I have travelled extensively throughout Spain over the years although I have missed visiting the northeast of the country. I have been to Barcelona city on a few occasions and I would very much like to visit the surrounding areas.
What’s the best thing about the Costa del Sol?
The Costa del Sol is as great a place to be as any other… you can spend as much time as you wish outside enjoying all that the area can offer. There aren’t many days that you’d prefer to stay in to keep warm rather than going out. There aren’t too many reasons to not be content in my opinion.
What things have you learned? How has your life changed since living in Spain?
I feel that I have learned to better understand how to find a better life/work balance.
One thing you miss about the UK?
My friends, but not too much really as London is only a couple of hours away and easy to get to.
The Costa del Sol now and when you first moved here – what differences stand out for you?
I have been here for 11 years now and I can’t really pinpoint any major changes to the place since I have been here apart from the infrastructure is still getting better.
Do you speak Spanish?
I am and have been pretty fluent since I was a child, so yes.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more good times please!
What advice would you give to someone relocating and wanting to start a business here?
If you have an open mind but stick to your principles and goals, be patient but take calculated risks, learn the language and smile in the face of adversity, you’ll be fine!
Marc Elliott is the founder of Fluent Finance Abroad, a VIVA Recommended Partner. You can contact Fluent Finance Abroad on +34 952 853 647, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.fluentfinanceabroad.com