Let's get real: Daniel Laycock

Let's get real: Daniel Laycock

Wednesday 03 February 2021Wed 16 Feb
Let's get real: Daniel Laycock

Why did you move to Dubai?

My partner got a secondment to Dubai with his job - Dubai was never on my radar but this potential secondment opened our eyes to the possibility of living here. 

The secondment only lasted two weeks before a full time position was offered, so we decided to go for it! I started to look around on facebook groups and job search sites to find something for myself. I have experience in the travel, bank and mortgage industry but most recently was working in mortgages, so this was what I focussed my search on mostly. 

Doubts about Dubai were niggling in the back of my head because I had never been there before and had a preconceived idea that it was very pretentious and not somewhere I could relax and be myself. I had sold holidays to Dubai in my previous role as a travel agent but it wasn’t somewhere that had appealed to me before the opportunity arose. Strangely, I just wanted to jump in feet first, I didn’t even consider a trial holiday, I just wanted to go for it! My partner put me at ease with the experiences they had had so far.

Now, twelve months have passed in the blink of an eye and I absolutely love living in Dubai and couldn’t see myself living anywhere else right now.  

What were your first impressions of Dubai?

My very first impression was ‘I am going to get lost!’ I still think that half the time! Even just walking around and catching the metro before I was driving, I just couldn’t see myself remembering my way around. I felt like everything was similar and I got overwhelmed trying to remember where I had to get off the metro etc. Once I started driving, I’d panic! I would miss a turning and have to try and find my way back and it was stressful. Now if I’ve gone on the wrong road, I take a deep breath and concentrate on getting back. The more you stress - the more you get lost! 

I also kept thinking about how lazy I would become living here! Everything is so easy and everything gets done for you. I don’t think I’ve picked up an iron since I’ve moved! Dubai is great in that respect, I just have to call the laundry company and they do all my ironing so well and quickly! It gives me more time to enjoy what Dubai has to offer and I’m so grateful for that! Who wants to be stood ironing when you can be exploring the city or sunbathing by the pool - it removes the ‘I’ve got so much ironing to do’ guilt! However, I would say that you need to stay grounded - it’s easy to get carried away and accustomed to a life where you have everyone else do things for you. I am in no way expectant of it but instead I’m so thankful to all of these companies for helping me out and just making life that much easier. 

I have a Tim Hortons right next door - you won’t believe this but I have seen myself get a coffee delivered. I’m perhaps taking it too far there but they just make it so easy - It’s like a trap! 

I found everyone in Dubai so friendly! But when you think about it, we’re all in the same boat. Most of the people I have met are expats and have also left family and friends behind to start a new life. People in the shops are so friendly. 

What did you do before coming to Dubai?

Before I moved I was working for a charity and helping people get mortgages. I fell into banking and worked my way through. I entered the mortgage department, did my qualifications and I loved my job. I’m a people person so being able to build relationships with clients after I did my qualification, suited me so much more than managing a team like I did in my previous role in the bank. 

How did you adapt to your Mortgage Consultant role in Dubai after doing it in the UK?

I knew what a mortgage looked like in the UK, but when I got into my new role in Dubai, I had to learn a whole lot of new banks and procedures. My first couple of weeks I spent shadowing the mortgage team, listening to their phone conversations and meetings to get a good grasp. As a mortgage consultant, you must know your product and I was passionate about learning everything as thoroughly as I could and as quick as I could. I arrived here only one month before the UAE went into lockdown and that through a spanner in the works - I could no longer shadow the team but they were great! We would have to catch-up on zoom constantly and that really helped me get through the lockdown. I think it was great for me to get started in that time and learn as I go. I have confidence in speaking to my clients, I had worked in muslim countries before so I knew about islamic lending so I guess that was helpful as we went into lockdown - one less thing I had to learn. Getting on and doing it was the best thing I did. In a commission only role, the longer I wasn’t doing the job, the longer it would take me to start making money. It’s also really important to learn from mistakes. You can’t learn the trade inside out without practicing. Learning from mistakes is key to success. You learn to correct them and gain trust from clients by expressing honesty and admitting to mistakes. 

What have you found the most difficult about living in Dubai?

Leaving friends and family is by far the most difficult part about living in Dubai. I had lived away before when I worked in the travel industry but missing family was one of the reasons I left the role. I was worried about losing my family or any of them getting sick. After a long chat with Allsopp & Allsopp HR Director, Jo Parker, I decided that I had to stop holding myself back worrying about other people. I had to think that logically and by moving away won’t, this won’t make people age or make people ill, just like staying at home doesn’t stop the clock - I’m only a flight away. 

Things have changed so much now to the last time I travelled. I have constant contact with my family. When I was travelling previously, I would receive a handwritten letter from home - that’s what I would look forward to every month. The world is now a completely different place and I zoom my friends and family and am able to speak to them everyday so I don’t feel so far away. 

First Impression of the company?

I honestly loved it from day one. Although, I must say, I did find it loud! Loud music and a lot of energy. To begin with, I was very introverted - it was a lot to take in and completely different from the office environment I had come from back home. I think because I had moved over with my partner, I didn’t put myself out there to meet new people as much as I maybe should have. I felt as though there was no pressure but everyone was so welcoming! I didn’t need to make an effort because everyone made an effort with me. 

It was so nice to have senior management say hello in the first week. And I don’t mean say hello because it's a company protocol to say hello to new people but they went out of their way to introduce themselves when they were passing and that set the tone for me. There is no hierarchy here. There is structure and a mutual respect between everyone but no one in the company is unapproachable. I haven’t experienced working for a company where you see everyone on the same level as much as I do at Allsopp & Allsopp. 

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was the commission only role. I worked for a charity offering mortgages to the less privileged and there, we had no targets which meant there was no pressure. Coming to Allsopp & Allsopp and starting a job with no salary was very daunting but the more you stress, the worse it gets. It took a long time for me to build up my pipeline and it wasn’t easy but as I found my groove, it has been so rewarding. 

I find building relationships with clients very easy and I really like to get to know people to find out how I can help them achieve their dream. This has paid off for me. I have spoken to clients nearly ten months ago who wanted initial advice and now they’ve come back to me to start the process. I understand that buying a house is a very big decision for people and even more so when they’re buying a house as an expat in a different country and not only this, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic!  

Your biggest achievement?

I have just hit my best month and on top of that I have had such lovely feedback from a client. This means the most to me above all else. For someone to reach out and get in touch with our CEO Lewis to tell him how much of a good job I had done is why I love my job. I like people to enjoy their experience and I like to be a part of their journey. Buying a house is a huge achievement and to be a part of the story is such a privilege, and it’s even better when clients leave feedback to say they felt supported and in good hands. This feedback means the most to me and is why I love doing the job. 

What would you have done differently?

I wish I had taken the advice from the team in the very beginning. The team said to me to always look forward and if a deal didn’t happen, to move on and not spend any more time thinking about what didn’t happen. I like to keep clients happy and when a deal didn’t happen I would focus far too much on why. I often think that if I had applied this from the beginning if I’d been in a better position now but, I guess that’s looking back and now I only look forward! 

3 Tips for someone looking to make the move?

  1. Don’t hesitate to make the move
  2. Pack lots of Cadburys chocolate - it’s not the same here
  3. Stay grounded - remember where you’ve come from
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