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Posted March 13th, 2012 by Charles Purdy

SMART people

This month’s happy customers are Alan and Fiona Bowtell, both 50 and from Bedfordshire, who own a second home in France

How did Smart help you?
We used Smart to convert sterling to euros for our deposit when we bought a property in the Dordogne. The French buying process is different to England in that we needed to pay a deposit in June 2011 before completing the purchase in September 2011. Between those two points in time, the fluctuation of the £/€ rate meant deciding when to convert a tranche of sterling to euros was very difficult – so getting advice through our Smart trader was very helpful.

How much did you transfer?
In the end we converted three tranches worth €83,000 in total using spot rates. Thanks to using Smart rather than a high street bank we were able to get a rate very close to the bank market rate and save several hundreds of pounds. We’ve continued to use Smart since completion to make further transfers to cover the mortgage payments.

Who has been your Smart trader?
Richard Brown. However, each time we rang up Smart we didn’t necessarily have to speak to Richard, as the other traders have access to information about our situation and history so they could help us too.

Did anything about Smart’s service really stand out?
The whole process of ringing up, agreeing the exchange spot rate, making our payment to Smart and then the onward transfer of euros to our French bank account went very smoothly each time. Smart’s back office service was excellent too, providing the necessary confirmation emails, documents and fund transfers seamlessly. The hardest part of the process was getting our own bank to transfer the funds to Smart, and they charged a fee!

Tell us about your French home?
Dove Cottage, and its studio apartment, is a typical stone-built property converted from farm buildings. It is in the hamlet of Guinet, which is near Villefranche-de-Lonchat. It’s not only our retreat but we also rent it out as a holiday home – you can find out more here

We bought it through the agency Beaux Villages. Having their guidance and expert knowledge was fantastic, right from finding the property, acting as go-between and negotiating the purchase price, answering many questions, through to the final completion at the notaire’s office.

If you won the lottery, how would you spend it?
We love the way of life in France, the wine and the great weather so if we won the lottery we would move to Dove cottage permanently, mortgage free!

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