‘None of us came into this to be brokers,’ says Richard,
‘I want to be trusted by the client.’ Such selfless sentiment is unsurprising given the husband and wife team were both formerly partners at law firm Macfarlanes, something credited by their adviser, Lord North Street founder, William Drake: ‘Lawyers have a natural instinct to protect clients.’
With their private office model the instinct isn’t just protection but full facilitation from location research to light fittings. They speak to Spear’s in the midst of a transaction process overseen by Richard, who has managed to solve a listed breach with the property in just under 36 hours.
‘That’s a level I’m very comfortable with,’ he maintains, ‘understanding an issue, understanding all the bits that relate to it and advising the client.’
But it’s Sophie who finds the properties: ‘Few people, if any, combine [her] levels of energy, intelligence, commercial insight and client-handling abilities,’ said one peer.
Although she believes that’s not the only reason to take her on: ‘I do think women make better buying agents because
of that intrinsic empathy and some of the softer skill sets do come into play when you’re acting for end users trying to find a home.’
There is an understated, untrite emphasis on the ‘family’ side of family office type service.
One client reported, ‘seeing RFR in action on this hideously difficult matter has totally reinforced my opinion of your business, namely that you are as good as it gets in terms of advising private clients — I couldn’t hope for better allies’.
The sausage dog owning couple point to their work with one client family in whose life they became ‘heavily vested in to make it work’. Having identified the dream home RFR structured a deal to incentivise the corporate client to leave and then took over the running of the refurbishment project. ‘[They’ve] now become a really good friend having directly been a client, we have quite a few stories like that where we’ve looked after them from beginning to end. In a few year’s time we’ll be looking for investment property for their children.’ says Sophie.
From their offices just off the Kings Road they coordinate a holistic family office style service that gives the client ownership of their property project without stress and angst that typify such undertakings. Their legal skills guarantee traction on contracts and legalese earning them a reputation for diligence, support and a service complimented by a formidable team of consultants and designers.
Sitting in the homely attic meeting room above the office floor Richard describes the longterm goal: ‘the property private office is something we have clarity on, to us it’s a professional services firm we’re building that will sit within the wealth space along side the top teir firms. That is going to take time but I want those firms to trust us in the same way that if you’re a Macfarlanes partner and you refer to an accountant you don’t worry about referring to Dixon Wilson, to PwC, to Deloitte because you know the technical excellence will be there, the professional client care and service will be there.’
‘Look at the accounting, legal and wealth sectors in the UK, it is market leading globally. The competition of that sector, in London particularly, is phenomenal. The talent, the service driven ethos and technical excellence is amazing. I want to put RFR in that grouping.’ Heady words to address a high canon. However, having recently won a mandate to serve the clients of the Queen’s bank their voice deserves to be heard.