I’ve deliberated for a while whether to write this blog of my experience working for Holborn Assets. I’ve really wanted to share my experience and how recent events spanning a period of 5 months have had a negative affect on both my physical and mental health.
I have segregated pt1 into chapters outlining details of specific events and incidents I experienced during my tenure. In pt2, we will be looking at my treatment and experience post termination.
In terms of the formatting, I have had to tread extremely carefully in how I’ve published my content, therefore I have published only what is 100% true in substance and fact. I have been threatened a number of times with legal action if I breach any data protection regulation, GDPR laws or post anything defamatory about Holborn Assets.
Additionally, I have received a plethora of threats from Holborn Assets lawyers in the event I publish the truth online. They have threatened me with “significant legal action” and accused me of “potentially criminal offences”
Their lawyers have not only confirmed that Holborn Assets are withholding my commission, but have also attempted to justify their refusal to pay me. This will be explained in greater deal in pt2.
As a result, EVERYTHING posted in this review can be proven. There is no hearsay or third-hand information. I have a copy of every single email, WhatsApp chat and other hard evidence to back up my claims. Everything below can be fully evidenced.
At this stage, I would like to make abundantly clear that my review does not constitute advice, it is simply a factual first hand account of my personal experience and treatment in working for the company. I will also be adding redacted copies of everything covered below to the gallery section of the website to support everything I’ve written about.
My Personal Background
I was approached by Holborn to leave my previous employer and as part of a 2 man team, tasked to build the all new property division, known internally as Holborn Assets Property. My role was Property Operations Manager and required me to report directly to the Head of Property (of whom I built the division alongside) and Holborn Assets Chief Commercial Officer.
Whilst these details may seem trivial, I feel it is important to demonstrate I wasn’t a tea boy that’s been canned for a poorly made coffee… (although I was sacked like one as you will discover below).
My tenure at Holborn lasted from 1st January 2019 until 27th September 2022. My employment record, as with my 2 previous employers throughout my career was exemplary. I have worked for a total of 3 companies since August 2005, a UK high street bank and 2 Offshore Financial Advisory firms. Throughout my entire career I have never been subject to any disciplinary procedures, performance improvement plans, warnings or dismissals. I am a loyal and hard working employee and have always conducted myself in a professional manner.
So, why the blog?
When I was terminated from my role, it was demanded by Holborn Assets CEO that I “leave amicably”, which I have tried to do and something I, rightly or wrongly, assumed worked both ways. I won’t cover every subject of my blog in this chapter, but my own legal representative outlined 7 main areas of concern over my treatment in his communication to Holborn Assets.
Statutory unfair dismissal
Breach of contract
Unlawful deductions/ non-payment of remuneration/ commission
Automatic unfair dismissal (whistleblowing)
This communication was ignored, a common theme you will discover in Pt2.
1st January 2019 to 31st July 2022
I had relatively few problems between the above dates. I know no employer is perfect and as with all employees, I had my gripes with the business but reflecting on my time with the company, there really is one or two that stand out during this time period.
My actual contract
As I mentioned above, my role within the business was Property Operations Manager, based full time in the UK, where I have continued to work and reside since January 2019.
However, when I received my contract of employment from Holborn Assets, this stated my job role was a Financial Advisor based in Dubai. This contradicted my offer letter entirely and my actual role within the business. When this was queried with a member of the Holborn Assets board of directors, we were informed that this was simply a “HR exercise to add you to the system”
Targets and renumeration
When recruited by Holborn at the tail end of 2018, I was offered a contract that meant my renumeration was 100% commission based (except for the first 6 months), even though I wasn’t sales staff. Holborn Assets outlined an achievable and realistic target that they were looking to hit from year 1 with the number of property sales.
A target which was never met during my tenure. As a result, this meant my earnings were a fraction of what I was offered prior to convincing me to join the business. I felt that Holborn Assets were not upholding their side of the agreement and this issue was raised in a meeting with a Holborn Assets director/Board member. I sent said director a copy of my offer letter (as they were not involved in our recruitment), and annual sales stats via email as a comparison to show my actual earnings vs what offered for me to leave my current employer.
The resolution……”we probably shouldn’t have said that”
This is all Holborn Assets had to say on the issue and just like that, Holborn Assets considered the matter resolved.
1st August 2022 to 27th September 2022
Throughout this chapter of my review, I will be focusing on specific incidents which occurred whilst I was employed by Holborn Assets. These are not in any particular order but understandably gave me great cause for concern. The majority of these incidents were raised on a call lasting 36 minutes with Holborn Assets Chief Commercial Officer. Despite being advised “this would be dealt with internally”, my immediate termination arrived 11 days later, as the subject of the majority of these complaints and issues, was the recently appointed CEO’s friend of over 20 years.
On 31st July the Head of Property was dismissed from his role and his replacement was the CEO’s personal friend.
Following the appointment of the CEO’s friend, as the new Managing Director of Holborn Property, he was asked to attend a webinar on 1st September, as a way of introducing himself to the wider company and its advisors. The purpose was an introduction to workforce and to discuss future plans for the division.
Whilst it wasn’t standard practice for me to attend webinars of this nature, I received a call from a Holborn Manager to update me after the webinar advising he had received complaints of racist behaviour by the Managing Director on the webinar.
I was bemused and found this difficult to believe that anybody, let alone the Managing Director would publicly behave in such a way in 2022. The manager who was dealing with the complaint sent me a full screenshot of the WhatsApp conversation he had with the consultant who raised the concerns and advised it was being dealt with.
The complaint read;
Consultant: “WTAF. Quoting Farage as any kind of source. That’s dreadful and frankly, really unpleasant. Can that be cut out of presentation?”
Manager: I’m on it.
Consultant: “I am livid. Only commented anonymously so as not to start a fight. Thank you. I know I am probably the most left wing consultant, although actually a centrist, but am still shocked by what a racist comment.”
Manager: Voicenote reply.
Consultant: Appreciate it. Although if you can’t say anything, I can if needed. Not for
the first time either.
Manager: “I’ll just get it edited out“
This was an issue that I raised with Chief Commercial Officer. I had some major concerns over this behaviour and that Holborn Assets has a global presence employing a multicultural workforce.
This is as far as the complaint went. The webinar was edited and distributed. This was the end of the matter.
Questionable attitude toward economic investment risk
As of the 5th September 2022, Holborn Assets Property team consisted of 6 members of staff, and between us we had a group WhatsApp chat. It’s no secret that the UK property market over the past 12 months has been turbulent. I won’t discuss economic challenges as part of this review as contributing factors can easily be researched independently online.
However, the following message was sent to the group by one of the 6 colleagues;
“We all need to pull together as I do believe next year will be difficult albeit there will be an abundance of opportunities for investors we just need to ensure we have a strategy in place sooner rather than later“
This was something I felt was a fair and sensible point and required further discussion.
The following reply was made by the Managing Director of Holborn Property,
“So (name), You can allow yourself to imagine all kinds of ‘Bad Things’ are going to happen.
The world is ‘awash’ with cash, property with a yield will always have a value. (Name) and I combined have been around over 120 years…we have more ‘T-Shirts’ in our drawer than you can care to mention.
My belief is that positivity can either be given to somebody – or taken away! You have to install confidence.
We have to genuinely believe that owning property is a secure investment. The long term has born that out. Each of us has a ‘Little Chap’ between our ears, chattering away, if you allow this character to get inside you…you become toast.
For every reason you give me, that a property cannot, or should not be sold, I will give you three reasons why it should…!!!
Have a good evening (Name) and when you wake up n the morning, tell yourself…It’s a great day to sell a priory… and go and do it!
My colleague then responded with the following
“I don’t think what I said has been understood correctly. I will explain in the next meeting”
To the best of my knowledge, this conversation never took place.
This was another area that caused a great deal of concern for me, and something I raised in my call with the Chief Commercial Officer. By comparison, some of Holborn Assets biggest rivals have publicly suspended property sales from their offering. There have been interviews broadcast on BBC radio with competitor CEO’s, citing market volatility and the security of clients investment as the reasons for its withdrawal from the market.
Lies, False accusations, underhand tactics, Age Discrimination and Isolation
After the original Head of Property was replaced by the new managing director, I raised concerns over my job security on 4 separate occasions. I wont discuss the nature of the change in this review, but it gave me serious cause for concern over my own job security. In hindsight, my insecurity was warranted.
Communication in the first 2 weeks between myself and the new Managing Director was regular but from mid-August onwards, communication was very seldom. I would attempt to contact the Managing Director, but was met with a variety of excuses, including but not exclusively,
“I cant talk, I’m in a bar” at approximately 4pm, and, “I cant talk to you whilst I am in the car, not even on hands free as I need to concentrate“
Calls were re-arranged to take place whilst the MD was travelling on a train. I would make the call at the agreed time, to be advised he had changed his plans and was now in a meeting.
Further to this, requests for information from the MD were being made through a colleague who would start communicating on his behalf. In addition, team meetings which had taken place every Tuesday morning had been cancelled.
Finally, the MD then advised he was taking control over my pay and earnings, because “it was in his remit to do so”, and he would have to sign off my commission being paid by the company. This new policy only applied only to me individually.
To which the email read;
“Can you please also send a copy of your Commission Statement, so that I can see how that’s made up. It is within my remit, to ‘Sign Off’ all such statements in any event from now on and for September.”
It was this sort of behaviour, along with a refusal to address concerns over my job security that caused me to suspect the MD was orchestrating my exit from the business.
As of the 16th September, I was feeling extremely insecure in my role and from the new MD there was a refusal to communicate, a refusal to address job security issues, and in seldom phone calls that did take place, there were requests for me to blueprint all of my processes and procedures. Not only was I asked to account for my time and what tasks I was currently working on, but I was asked to provide a full breakdown of the mechanics of each process. Something I was rightly or wrongly, extremely uncomfortable with given my concerns. This was then followed up by a very personal email, implying I do nothing with my day, I refuse communicate, I refuse to obey requests and I had to provide a full explanation of exactly how I fill my day.
At this stage, I was still working my role the same way I had done for the previous 3.5 years. The same work ethic, the same commitment, the same responsibilities and the same dedication that had built a highly profitable and successful division from the ground up.
This accusatory email, had been sent to me directly, but had Holborn Assets CEO amongst other parties blind copied. I requested a list of everyone who was BCC in this inaccurate, accusatory and factually incorrect email, as I felt it was only fair given the tone and nature of the email that I was given an opportunity to reply to all parties.
I did not agree with what I felt were underhand tactics in the way this email was sent. It displayed me in a negative light with lies, and was detrimental to my role within the business.
This behaviour was justified with the following explanation;
“On the Bcc, you have to appreciate that sometimes within management, there are protocols that prevent ‘Trail Mail’ because otherwise, too many people are ‘On Air’,so no, I’m not sharing that information it’s done for a reason.”
I then challenged this with the following;
“BCC recipients in an email prevents me from providing a response publicly to all parties. You have sent an insinuating email, then followed up with a second email containing factually incorrect information which is detrimental to me, my reputation and puts me in a negative light.
As a result, you are not only controlling the information received by the Holborn executive team and whoever else is bcc, but feeding them information that is inaccurate. How is this protocol?”
This was never explained.
The back and forth continued across 4 emails, containing multiple lies and false accusations. I wont copy and paste all 4 emails into this thread, but the below extract should give an indication of what I was subjected to;
“We then move on to the incorrect information in question, and your “aggression” surrounding the request for me to conduct a site visit at Fabric.
On the 30th August, you asked me to conduct a site visit at (development name) on the team meeting that took place that morning. This was documented by (colleague name) in the meeting minutes and cascaded to all parties.
On Friday 16th September, you claimed in your email that it had been 4 weeks since the request. This information was incorrect, but I opted not to highlight it for want of being “petty”.
20th September. You now claim this to be 6 weeks since your request.
1. This has increased by 2 weeks in the last 4 days.
2. This is double the actual timescales from your original request.
3. 6 weeks ago, you were physically in Liverpool. We met in person and your hotel was just 1.2 miles from the site. You arrived on morning of the 8th and left on the 9th. There was no request for me to conduct a site visit at this time. And you were in the area to conduct site visits as part of your visit.
My concern is that this is the kind of information you’re providing to the executive team, of which you are denying me the opportunity to respond to and also correct.
7 days later……..
Unfair dismissal and reason for being terminated after almost 4 years
As I previously mentioned I had an excellent reputation amongst my peers, and despite concerns outlined above, it still came as a huge shock when I received the email below out of the blue. I had raised concerns over my job security multiple times, but still didn’t expect to be dismissed via email, with the subject being, “Termination”
The entire email and my reason for termination read as follows;
“It is quite apparent that it is better we part company. I gave you the benefit to continue but it clearly isn’t working.
We wish you to leave amicably and therefore will offer one months’ notice – the details of this notice period will be sent to you from HR. However, the essence of leaving amicably is that you hand over in good faith everything that is Holborn’s including but not exclusively, emails pertinent to your current work, hand over of current work and anything that relates to your period with Holborn – for instance I ama ware that you registered a domain in Holborn’s name – this must be returned to Holborn.
Thank you for your efforts during your contract period.
Kind regards and all the best“
This email was sent to me directly from Holborn Assets CEO on 27th September 2022 at 12:20.
At this point of my tenure, I had never received a warning, neither verbal or written, never been subject to any performance improvement plans and had never been subject to any disciplinary actions. So despite me raising concerns that my exit was being orchestrated by the new Managing Director, this email still came as a shock!
Despite being told I had to leave amicably and had a notice period of one month, ALL of my system access was shut down within 24 hours. I had no access to emails or any of my systems from 28th September onwards. I raised this with several staff members via my personal email and WhatsApp but my system or email access was never reinstated. As a result, I was unable to complete the tasks demanded of me as part of my termination.
Being terminated on a Tuesday
For all commission based staff, our pay run is processed on a Tuesday every week. My internal system had commission loaded on their ready to be paid on Tuesday 27th September. This was commission that was received in week commencing 19th September and for deals dating as far back as April 2022. Holborn Assets cancelled my payment for this day and has since kept my money, as outlined in greater detail in Pt2. 28th September, I then received the following letter from Holborn Assets;
“We write to you for and on behalf of Holborn Assets. This letter is to confirm that we will be ceasing your contract with Holborn Assets with immediate effect. Further to this, the contractual relationship is being terminated.
We will accept a one-month hand over up to the end of October. We request that you hand over in an orderly fashion all current work, contacts, agreements, and anything relating to the Holborn Property Division and your work with that Division.
You must not contact, communicate, or meet with any of our clients, suppliers, employees, competitors, officers, or representatives, without the Company’s prior permission from today’s date. You should also ensure that any documents which relate to your work are returned, whether hard copy or on your computer. Should this be completely satisfacttory, all commissions due to you on commissions paid to Holborn till end of October will be paid to you.
The Directors of Holborn thank you for your service and wish you well for your future.
Should you have any queries please let me know.”
This was a PDF letter sent to my personal email address. As I previously mentioned, all of my system access was removed on 28th September.
This meant the demands I had to meet in order to be paid what I was owed were physically impossible.
HOLBORN ASSETS HAS NEVER RELEASED THE PAYMENT THAT WAS CANCELLED ON 27TH SEPTEMBER, NOR ANY PAYMENTS OWED AT END OF OCTOBER.
I have been attempting to resolve all outstanding issues for 18 weeks.
This chapter details a number of events which took place during my tenure. In Pt2, I will detail my treatment post termination.
I will be detailing the volume of communication I have attempted to make with Holborn Assets that has been ignored, The demands for me to address client complaints post-termination whilst I was on vacation, the unlawful retention of my commission and confirmation from Holborn’s Legal representatives that they have been sat on a significant amount of money that they have refused to release to me.
We will also reveal the answer to my most commonly asked question…..”how the hell do they get away with this?”
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