What are the main challenges and/or opportunities in your sector at the moment? How would you characterise them?
Stock is never the real challenge in London, if a client’s brief can be honed down sufficiently opportunities can always be uncovered. The challenge is in finding vendors who, in a highly discretionary marketplace, are prepared to be pragmatic in their expectations. This last market cycle proves that London is not infallible, and in what is emphatically a buyer’s market there is a far greater sense of willingness on both sides to find a path forward.
Is there anything about your role/industry that you think isn’t well understood, or needs urgent attention?
So shocked was a European client recently by how unregulated residential agency was in the UK, he claimed the country was ‘corrupt’. We are well behind other countries in this regard and recent publicity calling for radical change is long overdue.
How has your industry changed in the last decade and how do you expect it to change going forward? What is your firm doing to adapt?
There are undoubtedly many more property sourcing practitioners than 10 years ago, and many of whom both buy and sell. The market is having to adapt to this and we must get used to seeing more and more properties for sale through firms who are effectively competition on the buying side. It is, unsurprisingly, confusing for those unfamiliar with our systems, and in that sense, remaining a ‘pure breed’ buying agency, as we always have been, is becoming something of a USP.
How are things different in your field when working with HNWs?
If you have earned it, there is definitely an element of trust implicit in the relationship between client and buying agent – finding someone’s home for them is an emotionally-charged business and we are put in a position of great responsibility. It’s hard to imagine so intimate a level of relationship existing with a client in many other industries.
Why are you industry leaders? What are the advantages for HNWs working with you, as opposed to working with another firm/acting alone?
We have more experience and coverage than just about any firm, and with Savills at the end of the phone, we have a vast resource of knowledge across just about any real estate field you can imagine, globally, to the great benefit of our clients.
What attracted you to your role?
What stood out for me was not just the appeal of the raw ingredients with which we were engaged, people and property, but the responsibility afforded the team as individuals – I’ve always been fairly independently-minded, so to be offered the chance to run my own client book with almost complete autonomy, yet with the protection and camaraderie of working for a small firm within a globally respected PLC, was a heady mixture. I enjoy it as much as I did when I was a lithe’ish 25 year old, I just don’t spring out of bed with excitement in the mornings in quite the same way!
Who (or what) has inspired you recently?
My daughter, coming up to two, every day – we imagine what life would have been like without her. I’d have a lot more energy, but my life would be incredibly dull and aimless. It has given me renewed purpose and some much needed perspective.