March, 2023
Staff News

Meet The Team – 60 Seconds with Towngate Finance Director, Steve Forrest. Here’s What He Had To Say…

by Julia Ford

Steve, your 60 seconds start now…

1. What’s your favourite element of your role at Towngate?

Working with a great team of people. In many respects, dealing with the financial side of the business doesn’t change that much from job to job, but it’s the colleagues you work with that make all the difference.

2. What’s your biggest work achievement to date?

The one that immediately springs to mind is back in 2007/08, when the financial system was on the brink of collapse because of the reckless bank lending — particularly on properties.

I had to secure new lending after notice that our banking club, led by Rothshild’s — that we’d been with for over 25 years — would not renew the facility. Securing a new £40m provision against a portfolio of industrial assets was no mean feat back then! My many years of developing and maintaining strong banking connections — plus help from James Meigh at Santander — paid dividends in the end.

3. Name one thing people might not know about you.

Keen to leave school and get some money in my pocket at the age of 16, I was interviewed for the role of apprentice joiner at Marshalls Builders. After my interviewer offered me the position, he proceeded to advise me why I should turn it down and go to college instead. I still wish I’d had the opportunity to thank him for his advice all these years later.

4. What one word would you use to describe the property sector?

‘Colourful’, when compared with the accountancy profession!

5. Describe what you get up to on a typical weekend.

I like to keep busy, and if I’m not meeting up with family and friends, I always have ongoing building projects at home to get stuck into.

6. If one of your colleagues could win an award (work or ‘fun’) who would it be and why?

For the ‘Feet on the Ground Award’, I nominate our chairman, David Smith. From a humble and challenging beginning, he has achieved so much success in business, and through it all kept his sleeves rolled firmly up!

7. If you were in charge of Towngate for the day, what would be your number one rule/objective/goal?

Make sure we never go back to exclusively ‘home working’. With a few exceptions, I don’t think it’s beneficial for all colleagues to work separately every single day, particularly those who are just starting out in their career — we learn so much by simply being around our teammates.

8. Describe your job to an alien.

We are the ‘grease’ that enables all the other parts of the organisation to function smoothly. By providing firms with good quality financial advice and statistics, we ensure decision makers are armed with the right information and resources to grow the business.

9. If you could trade places with anyone in the world for a day, who would you choose?

I wouldn’t wish to trade places with this person now, because sadly he passed away far too young. But I would trade places with Seve Ballesteros, when he was in his prime. No one can hit a golf ball like he could, and more importantly, get themselves out of sticky situations on the course. One can only dream of playing with such panache!

10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Never be bullied into saying yes to a job or task, when you don’t have the time to do it well. People never remember someone who says they’re too busy to tackle a job, but never forget a person who takes it on and does it poorly…