Spring, sunshine and new shoots of optimism...
At the time of writing there has been no salacious news coverage of MIPIM despite, we hear, that a tabloid set up a sting at one of the Wednesday afternoon lunch venues featuring two attractive girls flirting at a table of guests with a photographer hidden nearby. Once the photographer had been spotted, guests at all the other tables rose to their feet and the sting was exposed.
Almost every conversation turned at some point to diversity in the industry - let's hope that it is not forgotten when the tabloids get bored and slope off.
The EG (is the British Estate Gazette) thought that data was the other big topic of the event - perhaps because of their management of the Radius database which is the aggregation of data from many of the leading commercial property agents. Gathering this data is quite a coup and shows just how worried the incumbents are about new business models. At present, it seems, Radius will have to make do with the facts as each member likes to portray them; an admission that rent-free periods and break clauses may stay locked behind closed walls means that we'll have to wait for truly accessible data - but this is indeed a step in the right direction.
Elsewhere, Proptech is still the most popular term to use when discussing where the industry is going. What is Proptech, really? Well, tune in to our summary of answers that we took from all the people we interviewed there. (contact us to be sent an early release draft) It is no spoiling of the surprise that nobody really seemed to know!
This year’s winner of the Proptech World Start-Up Competition, is a Dutch company called PHYSEE.
After last year's focus on the US, many US based property people flew in for the show. Finance and Proptech were their main focus but the links seem to be here to stay.
Logistics is back as the industry darling - "Logistics property is the new retail". Makes sense and explains the falling values of shopping malls - but Internet shopping is not yet perfect and whilst returned goods often amount to 80% of bought goods, this trend will also settle out.
There is also a huge emphasis on housing of all types - we think that the next generation of property people may be tempted straight into the residential sector and to placemaking. These are the exciting areas at the moment and fit directly with the digital agenda.
And what of the market - still too much money chasing too little stock. A plethora of alternative deals announced to coincide with MIPIM ranged from hotels to housebuilders and plenty of exotic alternatives outside Europe had large pavilions to empty people.
Above all, with 25000 registered visitors and, maybe, 50% of that number in addition unregistered, this was a great place to meet all the people that don't have any time in London. It was pretty full on, but worth the effort.
George Clarke, the TV architect famous for Amazing Spaces summed it up in an Instagram post - “Being able to have industry changing meetings at the drop of a hat, that would otherwise have taken months to co-ordinate in the UK, was nothing short of amazing.”
Here are the highlights of our experience this year...
Hans Gerritsen and Andrew Waller of Remit Consulting attended MIPIM in March 2018.
featured in Forbes
Remit makes the EG Editorial Leader's top story!
Bob and Andrew's RICS Paper on AI has made the top story in the EG Editorial Leader...
ISO 9001 certification can be an extremely useful designator of quality, particularly when you are marketing to government or large corporate clients. The current 2008 version of the certification is being superseded by the 2015 version. If you are not compliant with the new standards by the end of September 2018, you will lose your certification.
To achieve certification, you need to demonstrate that your business has appropriate Quality Management standards that are established, documented, implemented and maintained.
Remit Consulting is expert in designing and implementing leading practice processes for all types of Real Estate business, that you can confidently roll out across your business, with a view to certification for ISO 9001: 2015. We can also help with the transition from 2008, by improving those processes which need updating, so that you are prepared for your external audit.
For more information, call Melita Thomas on 07919448018.
British School of Amsterdam Award
Congratulations to our team in the Netherlands who were awarded with the below tombstone in February. They acted as financial advisors to the British School of Amsterdam, which managed to raise a revolving credit facility and a 10-year mortgage backed loan, totalling 22 Million Euros.
MIPIM this year was a buzz of chatter, the chink of coffee cups in the morning and a general positive vibe, indicating people were reconnecting with their inner thirst for deals and all things Real Estate. What’s new, you ask?
Sunshine, for one thing, making a change from the rain and cold of recent years. Security is next – it seemed to take forever to get in and out of the bunker until the guards had settled into a routine. And, this year, uncertainty has led to people taking bets – no longer is it just like “schoolboy football” as everyone chases after the same type of deal – variety was a staple of the discussions.
European views on Brexit ranged from scorn to disbelief and recent news on how hard continental cities are competing for UK financial companies shows that the “Europeans” are not worried for their own sakes. You could argue that the massive increase in separate tents put up by the UK regions is to counterbalance any negative sentiment – but it is more likely coincidence that each now competes for its own funding.
Talking of funding, it is still available at low interest rates and is flowing into Europe from other continents. Many property companies feel confident that their projects under construction (with emphasis on residential, logistics and hotels) will find end-investors relatively easily in the form of (institutional) funds from a wide variety of countries.
It was noticeable that investors were more interested in the technology aspects of Real Estate than previous years. Maybe this is because of the recent PR drive from the PropTech industry and the first MIPIM PropTech party. Nevertheless, we had many positive discussions with people open-minded to new ideas and solutions to their problems. The same question from all the funds – “But who is actually doing this?” Thankfully, there were enough solutions around the show to indicate take up and the start-up competition created new interest in innovative ideas.
MIPIM scored a PR hit by bringing in Ragnar Lifthrasir, the US Founder of the International Blockchain Real Estate Association (His name is Norweigen, although he is Californian). Blockchain is the next big sexy thing in technology at present and could be used in real estate to shorten a deal timescale from 30 days to a matter of hours. Despite a glossy overview, this was the first time that many had heard about the difficulties of implementing blockchain – there is a lot of work to be done.
With sun shining and the momentum of the positive mental state of the event this was a MIPIM well worth attending and we look forward to sharing insights from the conference with our clients in the UK and the Netherlands over the next few weeks.
Here are the highlights of our experience this year...
Continuing the theme of workspace in this quarters newsletter, we thought it worth expanding on the Stoddart Review which was released in mid-December. As the review itself says: "Much has been said in the media about the productivity gap but little connection has been made about the vital contribution of the workplace as a performance inhibitor or facilitator. The Review unequivocally makes the case and shares best practice, leading opinion and data".
Amongst other things, the review argues that companies need to be thinking about revenue per square foot instead of cost per square foot, that a new role of Chief Workplace Officer (CWO) should come into existence, and that a potential 3.5% increase in productivity could add £70bn to the UK economy.
It features contributions from our very own expert directors Bridget Hardy and Bob Thompson; and our eminent PropTech advisor Antony Slumbers.
For more information, please read the report.
Andrew was recently asked to present at the first in a series of #DatschaPresents seminars on the topic of technology and innovation in the property industry. Among the attendees were a number of property fund managers, PropTech gurus and property service providers and discussions focused around issues such as what the effects of technological innovation will be on the property industry, and what if anything, could limit such advancement. To view Andrew's presentation slides from the event, please click here.
BREXIT - What 3 things should you do now?
If you have become a news-junkie in the last few weeks, and cycle through the FT, Twitter, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Evening Standard with the tetchy irritability of a coke-head looking for a new fix, then the three things you probably think you should do are: panic, start scouring your family tree for an Irish ancestor, or empty your piggy bank in the hope of scrabbling together the price of a Maltese passport.
However, on the assumption that life must go on and that the Dunkirk spirit some of the campaigners were so keen to emulate does, in fact, exist, then there are some rather more practical steps you might want to consider. We have picked one suggestion each from people, processes and technology:
1) People: Look at your recruitment and training policies. Whilst we have no long-term idea about whether the free movement of people will continue, we need to be prepared for the possibility of having a much smaller talent pool from which to recruit – with the obvious upward pressure on salaries that that will create. How can you develop the people you already have, both to benefit your business, and retain them? Is this an opportunity to work more closely with educational or professional bodies to make sure that graduates are gaining the skills the industry needs? Can you get together with similar businesses to share training or offer rotations to improve your team’s breadth of experience?
2) Processes: In a changing world, you will need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities as soon as they appear. If your organisation is not currently as efficient and effective as it ought to be, you may struggle when new demands are made. Look at your processes to identify areas where efficiency or effectiveness could be improved. Also, look at processes that currently reflect UK or EU regulation. The rules might not change, but be aware of where they might – a case in point might be data management. Currently, the Data Protection Act requires data to be maintained in the EEA – what if the future UK is not a member? It might be a while before Parliament gets around to picking up all of these ramifications, but technical breaches of the law might easily occur. We are not suggesting that you do anything precipitate – just be aware of which processes might need revision as times change.
3) Technology: Who are your suppliers? With a fall in the value of the pound, costs of US software will rise, and become a higher proportion of your cost base. There may be benefits to this – Antony Slumbers suggests this will fuel the rapid expansion of the British technology industry (for more, please have a read of his blog). However, it still raises the question, are you using what you are paying for effectively – you need to get the best value you can. Continuing on the theme of the war for talent mentioned above – are there ways you can use technology to support your team more effectively or to minimise the low value work, and free them up to do the creative thinking? Can you take advantage of developing building management technologies to improve space utilisation and become more energy efficient?
Whilst these three initiatives are in no way ground-breaking, if you can concentrate on making your business as effective, efficient and economic as possible, then you should be able to weather the storms ahead. Let us hope that the old Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ does not prove too prophetic!
BDO Property Forum
Melita and Miquela recently attended BDO’s Property Forum where Mike Davidson from Broadgate Estates spoke about service charges in commercial property. The biggest challenge with service charges is still cost, influenced by Government, Environment, Security, Technology and ever-changing Customers. This includes increasing living wage levels, fluctuating energy costs and climate change disasters like flooding. Security threats necessitate greater training and better physical measures in place.
Advanced technology allows for micro-personalisation for time-poor customers; eventually centres will tell us what they need and when they need it due to the evolution of the Internet of Things. Customers are always changing; shopping less but spending and demanding more. There is greater online presence and increased digital engagement. Ultimately, service charges should be used as investment into the overall customer experience through better and more facilities, and an enhanced environment. We just need to have the right investment in the right place, and be flexible to changes.
The big talking point at MIPIM this year was the rain on Wednesday which lasted all day and sent most people scurrying for cover in the bunker. It was the first time most people could remember persistent rain throughout the day and it changed the atmosphere – pre-booked meetings took precedence over the usual serendipitous catch-ups and, as usual over-running bookings were difficult to reschedule because of overloaded wifi systems.
The organisers have spent a lot of time boosting the possibilities to network with people who you might not otherwise see and several online tools were available on the official site to make introductions – our own experience was that invitations using the system were largely ignored but it is a useful step up in managing scarce time at the conference. As ever, the bars were full, but so were the conference sessions – an eclectic mix of technology and business, mostly under the banner of innovation. Whilst the innovation centre was largely still quiet, its presence is being felt and many mentioned that they had been over the road to see it – somehow, it still needs more oomph, though.
The US contingent was more obvious this year through a coordinated approach from that country’s visitors – special network sessions and a large area in the Palais meant higher visibility and the chance to find contacts in one place.
Another big talking point was the huge availability of money to invest in real estate. With interest rates at all times low, very low yields from other asset classes, real estate has become again a very popular asset class in order to find some return on investment. So more banks than ever were present looking for investors to finance (however, still at rather low loan-to-value ratios and only for triple A-rated objects) and especially the presence of many (US) private equity funds and institutional investors was new; there is a tsunami of money looking for investments in real estate portfolios in continental Europe. This leads to increasing prices, even for properties with high vacancy rates in rural areas! However, most popular to invest in are residential properties, hotels and logistics. So we will see how these investments will actually deliver their foreseen yields when we meet again this October at the Expo Real in Munich.
We’ve been using our Remit Process Model for some 13 years and in that time we have continually updated it to reflect leading practice from the property market.
We thought it was about time to refresh the whole model and we have now done this – looking anew at how people, processes and technology are linked.
The result of our work is an updated methodology which can help our clients find new efficiencies by:
- Supporting training
- Improving the use of systems
- Ensuring regulatory compliance of processes
- Enhancing reporting and performance measurement
In today’s competitive property industry, we know from experience that efficient and well-managed processes are critical for the success of every company. We expect annual savings to come from increased efficiency in every process project we undertake.
Remit’s expertise can help you achieve an edge against your competitors.
Please contact us for more information.