1:17 AM, 20th March 2012, About 12 years ago
Last week I had the privilege of meeting Norwich Mediator, Martin Plowman of Mediation-1st for a coffee in the City Centre before work. I kept him talking for almost 90 minutes – what a fascinating man!
I had previously spoken to Martin over the telephone about risk assessment and probability outcome trees at the suggestion of another friend. What’s this got to do with property you are probably wondering. Well read on.
Martin’s explanations of risk assessment probability outcome trees and how he uses them in mediation intrigued me. Martin has developed a complex algorithm which I could see many uses for in business, particularly the insurance and insolvency market as well as for dispute resolution which was his reasoning for producing the algorithm in the first place. In my early years in financial services, insolvency and insurance gave me the grounding to develop my property investment strategy. The study of risk combined with an understanding of the different scenario’s that lead to insolvency proved massively beneficial to me. I studied the fundamental differences between property businesses that thrived in the late 80’s and early 90’s recession and then applied my own crude risk assessment model to create what, for the last two decades or more, has proven to be a highly effective property investment model.
Having done a bit of research on Martin before meeting him I also found out that he is ranked number one in the UK Mediator League Database Table. Not only that, but the differential in points between the top 50 was enormous with Martin on over 15,000 points and number 50 in the table on less than 500. The person second to Martin had only managed to score just over 8,000 points!
Was his success down to this algorithm he had created? I just had to know.
Having used mediation myself to settle a legal dispute of over £500,000 I already had a very strong admiration for what Martin does. In my case the cost of full litigation through the courts would have been into six figures but a day in mediation brought the issue to a close in complete privacy for a fraction of the cost and both parties walked away happy.
I suppose my natural curiosity lead me to wanting to meet with Martin. I always enjoy meeting with successful people and it’s not often you get to spend over an hour with somebody like Martin for the price of a latte and a flat coffee from Costa’s at London Street Norwich.
The outcome of the meeting for me was further intrigue. I now want to understand the commercial uses for this algorithm more and see how it can be applied to the property sector. For example, if insurers were to use it to assess claims would it result in reduced premiums? Would it allow for risks to be insured that were previously too complex to insure? Could it be used to free up time in the Small Claims Courts and thus speed up other cases, for landlords that might enable us to get possession order a bit quicker when we have to evict rogue tenants.
I now have more far more questions than I started with and I certainly plan to go back to Martin to see whether he would be willing to share his ‘secret recipe’ for his success, commercially of course.
Then today I was having lunch with a very good property developer friend of mine and he brought a friend along. As it turned out, his friend had built and sold several extremely successful online gambling sites. He told a story of how he had had to take two of his games offline as somebody had developed a system to beat his and had taken him for £73,000 in just a few hours this morning. Turns out he is going to call in a probability expert to take a look at his own algoriths. Guess who I will be recommending him to?
NOTE FOR MARTIN – if you are reading this, the next round of coffee is on you my friend 😉
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