If you have valuable real estate to sell in Europe, how do you let wealthy buyers in Asia, the US and the Caribbean know about it?
Being a global company certainly helps but, even then, how can you be sure your network is sufficiently connected to prevent those wealthy individuals falling through the net from location to location? If you’re Savills you set up a unique one-stop service to act as a trusted adviser and single point of contact for your global ultra high-net-worth clients. You staff it with experts from right across the company, including your top specialists in residential business, British country estates, prime central London, international residential and new developments. You link it with your commercial business. And you call it the Private Office. Which is exactly what Savills did. Launched by David Forbes in 2008, the Private Office has proved a resounding success, generating several billion pounds worth of business every year.
An example of how it all works in practice is demonstrated by Crispin Holborow, Deputy Chairman of the Private Office and its country house and estate specialist.
He had been advising one client on the sale and purchase of a country property; a relationship that led to further advice; first on the purchase of London residential investments, then a head office for the family business in Mayfair, and now to commercial property investments in Europe and elsewhere. Not everyone involved in the Private Office brings property expertise to the table. Associate Director of the Private Office Julien Ward, for example, is a former private banker. ‘My background gives me an excellent grounding in working with private clients, servicing and building relationships with them,’ he says. ‘I know from experience that when a business introducer makes a referral, they are taking a risk with their client relationship. If I can assure them we will handle their client like they would, it should make that referral easier to make.
Of course, dealing with clients at this level is never simply a case of matching the right wealthy individual to the right multi-million pound property: discretion and privacy are equally important. ‘Clients come to us because they like the discreet and confidential approach,’ says Julien. ‘We offer a boutique service with the capabilities of a global business.
To ensure its continued success, the Private Office has to keep moving forward, extending its reach. To that end, it has added representation in more locations across the world over the past 18 months, with new appointments in Singapore, the South of France and Moscow.
The Private Office also has to follow the money, pin-pointing exactly who has it and where. ‘It’s no secret that the majority of the wealth generation in the world is coming from the emerging markets,’ says Julien. ‘I expect we will also see a large number of wealthy tech entrepreneurs established and more attention given to the issue of succession – the transfer of wealth to the next generation.’
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