The brothers who founded Purplebricks - Michael and Kenny Bruce - have returned to the agency industry for the first time since leaving the hybrid company a year ago.
They have set up Agents Together, a foundation currently seeking charitable status, with some £1m funding provided directly by the brothers.
The foundation says its mission is to help the agency industry “steer its way through the unique challenges of today and to take full advantage of the opportunities for the future, that will create and preserve a healthier, well run and respected industry.”
The Bruces have been meeting, virtually, with some key industry players in recent weeks, including training and compliance expert Mike Day of Integra Property Services, trainer Stephen Brown of the SJB Consultancy, and Christopher Watkin, the former agent and now consultant who is well-known for video interviews with industry figures; these have provided their input free of charge.
The foundation’s chief executive is Sarah Edmundson, formerly an estate agent and now of the Agency AllStars training body.
A statement from the new foundation says: “Through its founding pillars of Healthy Business and Healthy Mind, Agents Together will provide expert advice, mentoring and coaching to estate agents who are keen to grow their business, develop their people and steer their way through the inevitable challenges they might face. It will promote the wellbeing of estate agents and encourage a culture of open communication and collective support.”
It is offering:
- a free to join mentor programme for agency owners;
- a speed mentoring series “offering 30 minutes of focused mentoring with business and industry leaders”;
- a series of videos called Winning Ways “led by thought leaders from the industry and beyond”;
- an information hub and videos aimed at promoting the mental and physical wellbeing of estate agents.
“Our ambition is to help estate agents, to support our industry and together change minds to bring about a brighter future for everyone. Our vision is for a healthier industry – and we know that healthy minds and healthy businesses will create a healthy industry” says Sarah Edmondson.
The board of trustees include the Bruce brothers; Samantha Jones, head of field sales at industry supplier Moneypenny; Peter Brodniki, chief executive of the Mortgage Advice Bureau; and figures from outside the industry including Will Whitehorn who is chairman of Virgin Galactic.
This new project is the Bruce brothers’ first foray back into agency since leaving Purplebricks.
In May of last year a stock market announcement revealed that Michael Bruce - then global chief executive of the agency - was stepping down with immediate effect. The same announcement said the agency’s Australian business was folding and the US business would be reviewed: a few months later it was shut down.
And in June of last year it was confirmed that Kenny Bruce, too, had left Purplebricks. His role at the end was sales director in the UK; prior to that he had spent several months overseeing the Australian side of the company as it attempted to weather a difficult market and fierce criticism from some in the agency industry.
Earlier this year there was trade speculation about a new “disruptive” project that the Bruce brothers were involved in, separate to the foundation, although no firm details have been released to date.
Speaking about the new foundation project, and particularly its focus on the well-being of agents, Michael Bruce told Estate Agent Today: “When you bring up issues like that in the industry, some people immediately say ‘Oh mental health, that isn’t about me’ and we want to get beyond that.”
He says it’s key, in the post-Covid period, that the industry recognises that it’s never had a better chance to unite around shared objectives.
“Throughout my own career there would have been many people who would have benefitted from access to the services we’re offering” he adds.
The foundation is launching as a privately funded foundation and is working with the Charities Commission to achieve charitable foundation status. You can see its website on www.agentstogether.co.uk.