Chartwell History in Housing- Where it all began… Zambia
Chartwell’s history in housing began when the founding shareholders of Chartwell Group in 2006 decided to focus their time and resources on enabling home ownership. Prior to Chartwell, Michael Bolton, Greg Connellan and Cheryl Herbert had all been involved in the investment banking industry.
However, after being involved in structuring an employer assisted housing project for a client on the Zambian Copperbelt, they realised that there was a significant opportunity in the emerging residential housing market. As well as a growing demand for home ownership across most African countries which could not be fulfilled through traditional capital markets.
It was their desire to enable first time home-owners in the emerging middle market segment that drove them to start building a niche’ home loan business.
Chartwell History in Working to create Employee Home Ownership
Chartwell was, in the early days, supported by the Dutch Development Bank, FMO, which enabled the business to expand its employer assisted housing offering. Essentially, this initiative was aimed at assisting employees through innovative structures to purchase their first home. Even lower income earners were able to buy a home which would not have been achievable through traditional mortgage banks.
Employer groups enabling home ownership for their employees realised long term benefits by assisting their workers, including the retention of skilled people. From this early success in employer assisted housing Chartwell diversified its offering in South Africa into the home loan market. The focus being a niche player specialising on pre-approved residential developments targeting first time homeowners. This move to a South African home loan business was enabled with the financial backing of a large international pension fund.
Disruption and Innovation in the Housing Market
Chartwell’s CEO, Michael Bolton says that one of the hallmarks of the Chartwell business is its ability to disruptively innovate in markets. For example, Chartwell does not use traditional mortgage bonds to finance its customers’ home purchases, but rather instalment sales loans (ISA). Bolton says that Chartwell’s ISA products have a number of cost and other advantages over mortgages, but no disadvantages.
Chartwell also prides itself in its personalised and helpful customer origination processes. This includes one on one budget interviews to determine affordability.
An important part of our business process, says Bolton, is to educate customers from the very outset of our involvement with them. Education programs run by Chartwell include topics such as personal budgeting, home maintenance and living in sectional title environments. Even those customers declined for home loans are given pointers or advice on how they can improve their budgets and in due course afford to buy a home. Everything Chartwell does is aimed at bringing as many people as possible onto the home ownership ladder in a responsible manner.
Today – Making Home Ownership a Reality
Today, Chartwell provides home loans across more than a dozen developments in South Africa. It is evident that significant sacrifices have been made by the entrepreneurs who founded this business – they feel that there is still much to be done. Bolton admits that they embarked on an audacious business vision. It has only been through dogged determination, sacrifice and much needed financial support at critical moments that have enabled their business to get to its current position. His advice to aspirant entrepreneurs is to ensure a focused business model that differentiates from competitors in its value-added offering to its customers.
He also stresses the importance of a strong motivated people aligned in a common vision for the business. Bolton ascribes the success of the business to the complimentary skills and experiences of highly committed partners and colleagues. He describes the culture at Chartwell like that of a family. Where we look out for each other and try and promote the best in each other in a constructively accountable environment – an environment that encourages diversity of views. In this way, he says, we believe we can build a sustainable and remarkable business to enable home ownership for as many customers as possible.