Select Property is an overseas investment property firm with a portfolio worth some £1.5bn.
Stott founded the firm back in 2004 and grew the company organically from the outset. But costs were spiralling out of control by 2008 and Stott brought in a chief financial director to keep an eye on spending. "There are things that went on in our business that I paid no attention to," admits Stott. "We were spending £300,000 on marketing every month. We were the best at what we did but we weren’t making enough money."
However, once Blank started making changes, Stott had second thoughts. "We didn’t really see eye to eye," says Stott. "I wanted to hire someone more like me. But it would have been worst thing could have possibly done. I wanted someone I could have railroaded a bit. Someone to control."
Blank was certainly no yes man: "He stands his ground, he’s dead stubborn and he’s dead tight," laughs Stott. "I’ll make a decision and he’ll say ‘you’re wrong’."
Blank’s arrival could not have been more timely. The UK had been plunged into recession and Stott had just transformed the firm’s business model to appeal to a wider market. From one-off million-pound purchases, Select Property now offers a monthly payment plan whereby investors can pay as little as £17 per month for a slice of a duplex in Turkey, Dubai or Spain.
Overseeing cash flow, and ensuring that the business remained in the black while these new models were introduced, was Blank.
"It’s really diffcult to be the driver of a business, a driver of sales and marketing and also hold purse strings," says Stott. "It doesn’t work.
"Stephen’s 59, so he’s been through a few recessions. Now I know the right man is holding the purse strings."