Simon joined Currell four months ago as CEO of the Commercial and Chartered Surveyors division, where he will be leading the next stage of growth and strategic direction. We put Simon to the test with the Currell Q&A.
I was an Equity Partner at Allsop for 15 years and before that I was at Chesterton’s for 9 years.
What is your area of expertise?
My specialist area is all things residential including valuation, investment and development. For the last 6 years I was an LPA receiver covering all asset classes, land, commercial, retail, leisure and of course residential.
Type of clients?
I typically act for prop companies, institutions/funds, developers and lenders. As a receiver I acted for pretty much every lender that loaned money into the last bull market.
What are your observations on the current market?
The market is changing more rapidly than in previous cycles. It typically used to be 7 years peak to peak but now, with better information flow and better operating conditions, it seems to be quicker than ever. It’s really exciting to be part of a practice like Currell that is nimble and able to react very quickly to shifts in trends.
I went to a residential development funding conference recently and the Chair noted that 12 months ago they hadn’t been able to get a single bank to come and speak. This year, they had eight banks present, who all did a synopsis of their lending criteria. The message was loud and clear; they are all very keen to get money into the market. Interestingly, nearly all of the lenders were specialist non high street lenders who were offering 60 – 65% of all in costs at similar interest rates.
The issue however is that most developers don’t want to tie up large amounts of equity to cover the remaining 35% or 40% required to finance a deal and would prefer to find an equity JV partner to help bridge the funding gap. One of the ways Currell are able to respond to this change in the development funding market is in advising a number of developers on sources of JV equity, forward funding and forward sales as well as more traditional advice on site appraisals and investment opportunities.
Where do you call home?
A village 10 miles north of Brighton, with my wife and two children.
If you weren’t in property what would you do?
An antique dealer, in the guise of Lovejoy.
What hobbies do you have outside the office?
Collecting old cream pots is a particular interest, as is playing golf quite badly. I have also just bought a grey Fergie tractor, which is hugely popular with my children but not so much with my wife!
Best example of your dedication to client care?
Sitting with a client in their office for the whole night, including fetching burgers at 3am to get a large deal done and then going for breakfast with them to celebrate.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Selling a residential investment portfolio for in excess of £200 million was a great day.