The Spear's Indices - Spear's Magazine

Welcome to the Spear’s Indices

Each issue of Spear’s Magazine contains an exclusive Index prepared by the experts at the Spear’s Research Unit identifying the very best providers of professional services to the high net worth audience. Comprehensive, authoritative and indispensible, these are the definitive lists of the top HNW advisers in Britain working in property, family law, wealth management, tax and trust, alternative assets and reputation management. Once a year the Indices are updated and expanded to form the core of the Spear’s 500, the bible of HNW advisers. Go to the drop down menu below for the latest indices of top professionals from the Spear’s Research Unit

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Property Advisers 2017




Top Five London Selling

A property veteran of four decades, Abrahmsohn counts the world’s wealthiest as clients — Lakshmi Mittal, Simon Cowell and Ringo Starr among them. His firm enjoys a virtual monopoly on ‘Billionaires’ Row’, Bishops Avenue in East Finchley, where asking prices reach up to £100 million and beyond. How have the past twelve months been? ‘Thank God there has been a noticeable increase in Chinese buyers,’ says Glentree’s founder. ‘We lost the residential developer because they couldn’t get funding for single, speculative developments. The Russians who bought up a number of these sites are of course nowhere to be seen — they’re all hiding from Putin. ‘These are quite big players, with £20… £30… £40 million to spend. We haven’t seen these budgets since the oligarchs.’ Despite crediting the ‘worst efforts’ of an ‘amateur, incompetent’ former chancellor with ‘knocking the stuffing’ out the market (not to mention a healthy dose of […]



Top Five London Buying

Known for his discretion and prowess in sealing some of the capital’s chunkiest residential deals (most of which are off-market), Bailey is no stranger to the biggest properties, figures and firms in London. He set out on his own in 2005 to found his own buying agency after a long spell at international property heavyweight Knight Frank, where he was head of its private office for ten years and founded its dedicated buying arm, the Buying Solution. After 35 years in the business, he’s arguably as well-established as his former employer. But small is beautiful for Bailey: ‘I don’t understand how big buying agencies can have ten or twelve people, because when they do, there has to be some sort of overlap and conflict,’ he explains. ‘To have that number of staff, you have to have clients who are fundamentally looking for the same thing. We only take on clients […]



Top Five Property Finance

Speed is the essence in the property finance world, and with ‘the best team in the market’, Berti is proud of his staff’s ability to provide HNWs with ‘super-fast’ solutions, having completed more than 1,000 deals in 2016. ‘One of our senior sales team has turned a deal around from Thursday lunchtime to Monday lunchtime — that is exactly the kind of service we aspire to give everybody,’ says Berti. The CEO of Octopus Property (formerly Dragonfly Finance) says the certainty and flexibility of the financial solution they give clients adds to the firm’s USP. Its ‘energetic’ approach is valued in a sector where many are concerned by the headwinds caused by the tax regime and ‘increased regulation’ in the buy-to-let landscape. Since the firm’s launch in 2009, Berti says it’s now ‘busier than ever’, managing £700 million-worth of assets. ‘Octopus Group and Octopus Property are growing quite rapidly. We’re […]



Top Five Property Management

‘It started with me on a motorbike with a toolbox on the back,’ says former estate agent Collingwood, who founded London Management Company after a bad experience of his own. ‘In 2009 I rented a flat, which was being managed by a well-known estate agent,’ he says. ‘My boiler broke in the middle of winter and it took them three weeks to fix it and I was furious.’ Collingwood spotted a market opening up for property management with a high level of service. ‘A lot of foreign money was flowing into London after the credit crunch,’ he explains.  ‘I thought, “Who is managing these properties? Not just the letting stock, but more importantly the pieds-à-terre?”’ LMC now looks after 60 per cent pieds-à-terre and 40 per cent rented properties, worth between £700,000 and £40 million-plus, for a starting annual subscription of £3,500. The service is personalised. ‘We don’t put our […]



Top Five Property Lawyers

From ‘the sheikh or the oligarch who wants a property to live in or to have as an investment hold’ to the ‘traders and investors buying buildings from overseas’, Cooke is your global go-to. ‘I love the breadth of UHNW clients we see day in and day out — from the Arab royalty to the government ministers to the South-East Asian entrepreneurs to the Russian mineral billionaires,’ says the likeable and good-humoured super-solicitor. ‘The insights, views and comments from all these individuals make life interesting and enjoyable!’ The firm’s private property group and private client head has seen some shifts in the past year, including a ‘significant’ cash surge into London from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Many of his instructions have come from ruling family members. ‘This seems to have been despite concerns over increased property taxes in London and despite Brexit,’ he says, highlighting London’s seemingly impenetrable safe-haven status. […]



Top Recommended London Selling

Crayson resents selling agents who use vague phrases such as ‘everything’s fabulous’ or ‘refurbished to exacting standards’ in adverts. ‘We’re all about presentation and making it accurate. If it’s a hellhole, we’ll tell them it’s a hellhole,’ he says. In a buyers’ market where pricing is crucial, overestimating value can lead to multiple price reductions that can ‘massively destabilise’ the London market, the consultancy’s founder says. Agents who ‘haven’t got the balls to tell clients how much their property’s really worth’ make matters worse, he adds. Regardless of price corrections, the ‘diabolical’ effect of stamp duty on super-prime properties and a lull in the volume of transactions, the former Rothschilds man stays optimistic about London as a ‘blue-chip’ asset class: ‘It’s going to become the global centre of the world, no doubt about it.’ With a book of discerning entrepreneurial clients, Crayson says it helps to dissect the landscape like […]



Top Recommended London Buying

Despite tough market conditions, Black Brick is about to have a record year as it approaches the end of its final 2016/17 quarter, says Dell. She cites 41 deals worth £140 million in the past twelve months, including a £55 million off-market deal for a freehold prime property in Belgravia, one of the biggest in the history of the company, which this year celebrates its tenth birthday. ‘We’re pretty dominant,’ Dell states. The industry seems to agree: it awarded Black Brick the Gold Award for Best Buying Agent for the third year running at the Estate Agency of the Year Awards last year. Dell puts Black Brick’s success in large part down to its expansion into areas outside prime central London, which are now promising better capital appreciation and higher rental yields. ‘We’ve bought properties in excess of twenty postcodes in the last year,’ she says. With the rises in […]




Dring is a one-firm man: he has been at Knight Frank for almost 30 years (and some of his clients have been with him just as long). The firm’s head of international has seen the rise and fall of international wealth, and the varying destinations it has flowed to — from the key markets of Europe to the Caribbean, Asia and the US. It’s here that he has focused on the most prolific properties, from £15 million upwards. Dring sees steady business in Europe, despite swelling instability. ‘Of course the currency has changed pretty radically — especially for British buyers,’ he explains. ‘The pound has strengthened somewhat [from its post-referendum trough], so while currency became an issue for a moment, it is now less of an issue.’ Even still, international churn may be giving clients cause to reflect, and buyers are certainly taking their time — but Dring sees a […]



Top Recommended London Selling

The mood in London is now positive, says Flint, Knight Frank’s head of London residential — a relief after a ‘challenging’ year that saw a 37 per cent decrease in volume of transactions following the stamp duty rises and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. There was a marked improvement in the last quarter of 2016, which included the best November they’ve had in three years. Low interest rates and a weak pound have helped encourage both domestic and foreign clients, as has a much-needed dip in asking prices. ‘Some properties are now well-priced and people may look back at the end of 2017 and think, “Maybe the beginning was a good time to buy,”’ says Flint. ‘I like to think we are possibly at the bottom of the curve.’ Knight Frank has expanded from seventeen offices to 30 in the past five years, with three new openings in 2016 in the fast-developing areas […]



Top Five Property Management

‘Savills’ USP is the breadth of services we offer,’ says Forrester, who joined in 2012 from Cluttons, where he was head of residential management and consultancy for many years. The team at Savills deals with everything from day-to-day operational management and leasehold reform to providing asset management advice. ‘Our team sits as a conduit for all the services the firm can provide for a client,’ he says. ‘We have the clients’ hat on in the firm.’ Clients range from charities and financial institutions to landed estates and UHNWs, and Savills works with them to establish, maintain and enhance the capital and rental value of property assets and to improve returns through expert portfolio management. ‘A family estate might make decisions based on personal preference rather than a 100 per cent commercial reason and you have to go with that,’ he says, ‘but generally speaking people want to get the best […]



Top Ten Country

‘I have seen every market, but never one like 2016 before,’ says Harington, our index’s most veteran adviser, with over 42 years’ experience. The further rise in stamp duty has left the high-end country market in an ‘absolute shambles’, he says: ‘The politicians have frightened the life out of it.’ With a ‘huge amount’ of the business being about understanding clients’ psychology, Harington often hears buyers’ (both local and foreign) frustrations with the additional price tag. A Scandinavian purchaser told him the £375,000 tax on a £4 million property in West Sussex was offputting: ‘“Why would I pay it to your exchequer?” he said.’ There has also been a ‘whole change in the dynamic’ in the way HNWs buy, he says, bearing in mind the portfolio of properties they may already own abroad. When asked if homes in Oxfordshire, Ascot and Hampshire still provide an allure, he replies: ‘The country […]



Top Five Property Finance

Imperial Blue was founded by brothers Tom and James Harries post-crash to provide capital to property developers when banks weren’t lending. Based on Upper Brook Street in Mayfair, the niche boutique now offers debt structuring, lending and an investment platform that has successfully provided funding for projects in excess of £500 million across the bridging, development, mezzanine and equity sectors. A small company backed mostly by HNW investors, Imperial Blue doesn’t struggle to move quickly. ‘We are notoriously quick, often giving terms within hours,’ says Tom Harries. ‘This is because firstly we are largely backed by high-net-worth investors and there is no credit committee that meets once a week, and secondly we are a small, dynamic team that doesn’t have the layers of bureaucracy many other companies do. Thus we can make decisions on the spot.’ Aside from a slowdown in sales and growth because of stamp duty rises, the market […]



Top Recommended London Buying

‘I’ve been doing this for a long time,’ says the razor-sharp yet softly spoken Heaton, who founded LCP in 1990, claiming to have been the first specialist buying agent in London. In 2016, LCP doubled its number of purchases on 2015. ‘It’s been a trying couple of years, but we’ve adapted well and we’ve been in the right place, buying the right things, with the right kind of client-base to withstand it,’ she says. LCP has focused on helping investors buy one- and two-bedroom properties under £1 million in prime central London, which rent for less than £1,000 per week — a sector that has proven ‘particularly resilient’ to tax changes and market volatility, Heaton says. Heaton only buys old stock, not new builds: ‘Our model is to go for the scarcer source, which is more difficult to find, but we’ll find clients the best returns.’ And once clients have […]



Top Ten Country

‘In 2016, in the country, we had a good first quarter and then the market literally died for six months,’ says Heaton, who founded the buying firm in 2013 with a view to taking on the big firms, including Property Vision, his previous employer. ‘But we had a fantastically busy end of the year, so all in all we ended up standing still last year, which given the overall market is not a bad place to be.’ Heaton has since taken the high-end property world by storm, pulling off near impossible deals in a notoriously tricky market. Last April, in the space of just twenty days, he sourced, exchanged and completed on behalf of a client who wanted to close the deal just before the 3 per cent surcharge on stamp duty came in. ‘They frankly didn’t think they stood a hope in hell,’ he says, adding: ‘Stamp duty has had […]



Top Five London Selling

While the past year has demoralised many, Hersham’s ‘omnipresence’ presided over the property world according to one contemporary, snapping up almost £1 billion worth of transactions. The former reality TV star and property magnate, whose larger-than-life persona is described as ‘pathologically persistent’ by another peer, was the recent recipient of Spear’s Property Adviser of the Year award. When asked about the secret behind some of his monumental sales (the largest being an £86 million ultra-prime residence), Hersham says. ‘Never give up on any applicant.’ The return of Russian buyers has kept Hersham’s office ‘buoyant’ throughout the year: ‘Our off-plan sales continued at the rate of one or two per week.’ Perhaps his 30 years in the industry, a bookful of clients from Russia and the Middle East, and a number of global offices (in New York, Mykonos, Cannes, Florence and recently Herzliya in Israel) do give Beauchamp’s founder distinct knowledge […]



Top Five London Selling

Savills’ head of London residential has seen ‘one of the most volatile trading markets’ in his 30 years’ experience in 2016, but that didn’t stop the property juggernaut from selling the second most expensive home that year. ‘One of the best houses in Belgravia,’ the cheerful Hewlett enthuses about the Victorian property bought by a Middle Eastern family, priced at nearly £80 million. Similarly, having completed three other £30 million-plus sales, he believes in London’s appeal to buyers. His travels to the likes of Moscow, Dubai and Kazakhstan reiterate just that: ‘I don’t think it has lost its place in people’s hearts across the globe.’ A specialist at the ultra-luxe end of the property market since the Eighties, Hewlett calls it ‘an exclusive club of agents’, comparing it to the top end of the art market. ‘Not everyone’s comfortable with dealing with very high-net-worth individuals — they get a bit […]



Top Recommended London Buying

One of the best-known agents in London, Hewlett is as respected for her discretion as she is for her enviable contacts book — and her mantra. ‘I never talk about what I do,’ she says. ‘This is the first time I’ve ever discussed it. I’m not going to give you details or examples, because the people one looks after just don’t want that.’ A 36-year veteran of the prime central London market, the skilled negotiator began her career in the Gulf, where she managed an Abu Dhabi royal’s rental portfolio, back when expats were barred from ownership. Returning to London in her early twenties, Hewlett joined Aylesford International, working her way up to managing director over 33 years at the firm. She set out on her own as a buying agent in 2014, to offer the very best of all that she had learned. ‘You can choose what you take on,’ […]



Top Five London Buying

‘Easily the most active buying agent in prime central London by a mile — frantically busy and the best,’ a peer says of Hirst. As such, 2016 was busy for Hirst, who has recently bought three homes on Egerton Crescent, one of the UK’s most expensive streets, in ten days. ‘Anything a little bit quirky or unusual [wins],’ she says. However, there is still a lack of supply, with sellers commonly mispricing stock. ‘Pre-Brexit, post-Brexit, you will always have greedy vendors. Everyone thinks they’re underpaid and their houses are worth more than they are — that’s human nature. People sometimes need a reality check.’ Hirst, who began her career relocating bankers from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS to London, is a discreet operator with almost 70 per cent of over 21 years’ transactions completed off-market. Longevity is the key to survival and triumph in the buying landscape, she says. […]



Top Ten Country

‘I’ll never oversell, and I’ll never tell anyone that something is what it isn’t,’ says Holborow, the soft-spoken farm and country estates expert and Savills veteran of 30 years. ‘It’s important to think about every deal as a long-term relationship,’ he says — a popular modus operandi that has propelled Holborow up the ladder from land agent to head of Savills’ country department to deputy head of the recently established private office, where he works alongside its head David Forbes, focusing mainly on the top end of the country market. ‘There’s not another big firm which has one person on both farms and estates and top-end country houses. With us it’s all under the one team at the super-prime end,’ he says. After a slow start to the year, the final quarter of 2016 saw a marked increase in activity, especially in the southern home counties — the likes of […]



Top Ten Country

Now an international juggernaut, Knight Frank boasts more than a century’s history selling rural property — and Hopkins, a steadfast country hand, has seen over a quarter of it from the inside. Hailed as ‘terrific’ and ‘seriously good’ by industry experts, he heads up the farms and estates sales division, a specialist team of nine within the firm’s 30-strong London office. The land market had ‘flattened out significantly’ when Spear’s last caught up him in early 2016, thanks to the cooling measures brought in by George Osborne in 2015. But the present is harder to decipher — and the reasons for that even more so. ‘One of the amazing things in the market at the moment is that for the first time in my 30-year career, there are no trends,’ he says. ‘You can’t say the market is rising here by X per cent, or that land prices are doing […]



Top Five Property Lawyers

While some say Hoskyns-Abrahall’s star is rising, we say it’s already pretty elevated. Withers’ landed estates co-head is an expert in the acquisition and sale of estates, country residences, farmland and grouse moors, both for portfolios and first-time buyers. Few in the field could call 2016 a barnstormer as Hoskyns-Abrahall seems to. ‘Taking the year as a whole we transacted our greatest ever acreage — in excess of 30,000 acres — which is fantastic,’ he says. While agricultural subsidies face an uncertain future, affecting the investment appetite of a certain profile of buyer, the fundamentals that make land an attractive asset class (and the UK an attractive destination for investment) remain: ‘In the last recession we were fantastically busy — £350 million of land deals in twelve months from 2011 to 2012 — so we are expecting to be busy again if there is economic uncertainty. Land remains a safe-haven […]


Middleton Advisers

Top Ten Country

Since Hudson co-founded Middleton in 2008, its client-base has continued to expand thanks to its clearly defined five-point mantra: focus, independence, trust, diligence and knowledge (also known as ‘The Middleton way’). ‘It’s a way of encapsulating how we’re different to other people,’ he says. ‘For me the most important thing is trust.’ The approach is paying off. ‘Our client list is very strong so we’re just out hunting very hard for houses,’ says Hudson, who was once dubbed by an industry peer as ‘the most proactive buyer in Hampshire’. Middleton sources half its properties off-market, which requires excellent contacts and hard graft. ‘The bulk is overpriced or substandard for our clients and it takes some time to wade through,’ says Hudson. ‘It hasn’t been the best year for our core market,’ he says with characteristic honesty. He points to a slowdown in the purchase of six- to eight-bedroom family houses […]


Langton Watzdorf


Partners Langton and Alex Watzdorf met when the former was at Aylesford’s, the property juggernaut founded by his father, Andrew Langton. ‘He had the client and I had the house and we did a £43.5 million deal,’ says Langton, describing their seven-year partnership since as one of ‘yin and yang’. The self-confessed ‘Chelsea boy’ and the German-born Watzdorf run a discreet service sourcing properties from London to St Moritz, St Barths, Barbados, Greece and France. ‘We’ve got the best people across the globe to contact when we need to find the right home,’ says Langton. With clients hailing from China to Brazil, Langton Watzdorf closed seven deals in 2016, all of which were ‘hangovers’ from the previous year, when people were prevaricating in the lead-up to the EU referendum. Proud moments have included acquiring a house, which had never previously been sold, for £120 million in Regent’s Park, as well […]




‘Brexit has created huge uncertainty among our global clients, and where there is uncertainty they turn to good public affairs consultants and geopolitical advisers,’ says Lewington. He’s well positioned to help them, both personally, with his own experience in the top echelons as a former adviser to Number Ten, and logistically, with offices in London and Brussels. An adviser to C-suite individuals at institutions such as Microsoft, Sky, Airbus and Goldman Sachs, he is practical in his advice post-Brexit: ‘There were a number of players who let the cause of the single market down ahead of the referendum. Business is only one of them — [but] I don’t think there is any merit in big business navel-gazing on whether they played a role in the referendum outcome.’ His other advice is to remember that Facebook, rather than Instagram or Twitter, is the most powerful online tool, and that CEOs and […]



Top Five Property Lawyers

‘The market continues to suffer,’ says Lewis, pointing to the stamp duty rises in 2014 to 2016, amid myriad tax changes for offshore buyers. Lewis, a partner at Mishcon, notes that the ‘scramble’ to take advantage of previously lower rates has seen buy-to-let transactions slump since March 2016, and that new-build purchases have been ‘considerably’ quieter as buyers mull potential capital value rises during the course of construction — either for investors to turn their properties, or for buyers looking for confidence in ‘appropriate’ mortgages on completion. However, she adds: ‘There have been good deals to be done for those who are able to take advantage of the good exchange rates.’ The period of ‘cogitation’ over last summer was most welcome. ‘Post-referendum the market definitely picked up in the autumn, with sellers adjusting to a new age of realism and buyers unable to put their lives on hold until Brexit […]



Top Ten Country

Money can buy you everything these days — except your ideal country abode, says Macpherson. ‘If you’re in the market to buy a £30-£40 million estate you actually don’t get much of a choice — there is a very limited number of opportunities over [the past] five years to buy.’ While there is ‘pent-up’ appetite for buying, the stamp duty rise is ‘still a tremendous disincentive’, says Macpherson, who questions George Osborne’s rationale. ‘If he was trying to reduce the value of houses, which I think is not necessarily a bad thing at all, he went about it the wrong way. If you want to decrease prices you want to increase supply.’ Despite the paucity of stock, Macpherson’s most significant transaction was a 1,200-acre estate in Northumberland for almost £12 million. However, the resulting £600,000 stamp duty was still difficult for the purchaser to ignore, he says. Wading through a […]



Top Five Property Management

Main, who also runs luxury residential property development company Westbourne Group, was ‘horrified that the old established management companies were very limited in what they could do’. ‘Every resident we have is a UHNW, and demands are that much greater,’ he says. And so Rhodium was born in 2011. It provides personalised services to residents of super-prime new-builds in London comprising units from £5 million to £200 million. With more than £1.5 billion of property under management just five years into the business, it counts Monaco’s royal family among a growing list of high-profile investors. The style of service is certainly fit for a queen, which is what UHNWs are expecting these days. ‘Clients are placing that much more emphasis on service: how the building’s run, the ratio between concierge and residents, even the staff uniforms,’ he says. ‘In a Rhodium block you’ll see a huge difference, from someone opening […]



Top Ten Country

‘I’ve got the best job in the world — I have seen houses which the world would never see, lots and lots of them,’ the jocular McAndrew says. From a property with art worth more than the entire estate, to rare grouse moors and the recent sale of Britain’s only desert, it’s the variety that has kept McAndrew at Strutt & Parker for 28 years, despite being ‘headhunted twice’. ‘It’s bonkers, but great, great fun!’ he laughs. Clients come to the self-proclaimed ‘country boy’ from ‘every corner of the world’ and all walks of life. ‘We find that a banker from Goldman Sachs who’s earning millions of pounds a year would love to spend one week a year sitting on a tractor, carting corn.’ The partner in the firm’s London-based rural HQ also discovers that HNWs ‘buy with their heart’ and are therefore ‘incredibly choosy’ about their ideal country estate. […]



Top Recommended London Buying

McDowell’s eponymous firm, which buys and sells, had an excellent final quarter of 2016 — the best in two years — despite a difficult year for London property. This was ‘based entirely on the weakening pound,’ says the charming and forthright McDowell. Holland Park, Kensington, Belgravia and Knightsbridge have seen especially high levels of activity on the selling side, with less movement in Chelsea. ‘Oddly enough we’ve sold mostly houses, but that bucks the market,’ he says, referring to the growing appetite among buyers for lateral flats with porter and parking. Now is the time to buy, especially if you’re dollar-denominated, he says, and the view among investors at the moment is that UK plc is robust in the medium to long term. ‘I had a client today who said there’s going to be a pretty sharp rise in prime London real estate in about eighteen months’ time,’ he says. […]



Top Five London Buying

For this big beast of the prime central London property sector, 2016 ‘felt like a play in two parts’. The straight-talking Prime Purchase director and London head says: ‘The year started with a note of optimism… the second half was a tragedy.’ Hikes in stamp duty coupled with the Brexit vote led to a considerable slowdown in transactions, but Meacock is upbeat, comforted by the knowledge that markets are cyclical. ‘What goes up must come down,’ he says. With uncertainty still in the air, an increasing number of clients are seeking the advice of buying agents such as Meacock. ‘This is a good market for a buying agent,’ he admits, but the consistently highly ranked former Spear’s award nominee really knows his stuff. ‘If you genuinely want to do something, you just need someone to open the doors,’ he says. ‘It’s all about arms-length analysis, thought-through, evidence-based advice, not just finger-in-the-air […]


Quintessentially Estates


Soft services may be all the rage these days — not least among property firms looking to boost their bottom lines in a bruising market. But few offer Quintessentially’s list of can-dos. Best known for its concierge services, the firm branched into real estate in 2007, offering search and acquisition services and post-purchase care for private clients, corporations, funds and family offices — and ‘access to the inaccessible’. You don’t need to be a member to access these services. ‘When dealing with extremely high-net-worth individuals, the most important thing is to always go the extra mile,’ says Mosgrove, highlighting access to the firm’s international network of 60-plus offices. ‘People only remember the smallest details — it’s the stupid little things like counting all the picture-hooks on a wall. They’ll never remember the fact I saved them £250,000.’ Buyers in Ibiza and the south of France peruse properties by helicopter, while […]



Top Five Property Finance

‘George Osborne introduced 26 new property taxes — how many advisers understand where they sit at the moment? We do,’ says Munford, commenting on the greyest area of the property landscape. MCIFA’s CEO, with more than 26 years’ experience, has his finger on the City’s property pulse, says such astute understanding of the former chancellor’s policy ‘insulates’ clients from ‘the rigours of change’. ‘Life’s getting more complicated, we’re here to make it simpler,’ the engaging Munford says. The ‘Brexit heart-attack’ is over, he had previously told Spear’s, and the weakness of the pound has increased property purchases from abroad, calibrating the 2016 skew towards refinancing. ‘London is liquid — people like that,’ he adds, adding that there is currently strong interest from Arab, Chinese and Latin American investors who are drawn not only to the currency advantage but also to its overall appeal as a ‘safe haven’ in comparison to […]



Top Five Property Management

‘We leave no stone unturned — that’s Quintessentially’s motto as a whole,’ says Parkinson. The concierge firm’s senior adviser recalls sending an intern to more than five Whole Foods stores across London in search of a special type of cereal for a health-conscious client. Parkinson’s team go the distance, from gathering HNWs’ favourite flowers to stocking up their pieds-à-terre with ‘a huge shopping list of food and cosmetics’. She also recalls having to feed and walk dogs that arrive at the property before their owners, making sure they’re ‘as happy as the owner would be’. No wonder the team often receives thank yous ‘when they’re not required or called for’. Parkinson, who was formerly at Black Brick, says it’s important to provide clients with a well-curated welcome, often after a long-haul flight: ‘It’s about making it feel like they’re coming home, rather than just to a temporary pied-à-terre.’ Clients praise […]



Top Five Property Lawyers

Ranson’s colleagues remember his rather unusual application for a training contract at Macfarlanes. ‘I put “I love property law” on the form,’ he says. ‘It is still true and two things in particular still cause me to leap out of bed in the morning — the clients and the law on which I advise.’ One of the best-known lawyers in the property field, Ranson acts on the acquisition, development and disposal of prime residential property, with particular expertise in leasehold enfranchisement, and has acted as an expert witness in related cases. He says his practice has enjoyed a busy and interesting year, with ‘a huge rush’ of transactions completing before the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge came into force in 2016: ‘I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of transactions that have been agreed since the referendum, and the general positivity in the market,’ he adds. Ranson has a […]



Top Five Property Lawyers

A tier-one counsel to UHNWs, wealth managers, private banks, trustees and family offices, Roberjot has built an enviable contacts book over the past nineteen years. Those contacts range from London to Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Switzerland and Singapore (she also built the firm’s booming London residential property practice from scratch). Roberjot enjoys particular experience acting on behalf of residential and commercial developers, from purchase to end use, including and all environmental and planning needs — from super-prime London flats to large country estates. She also advises private and commercial banks and acts on the acquisition of hotels and ‘trophy’ buildings in the UK (she’s also experienced in handling banking and security documents for lenders). The warm and engaging Roberjot says the London property market is ‘still very much active,’ after a busy twelve months busy working on deals for some of the capital’s most luxurious abodes — including ‘one of the […]



Top Recommended London Buying

‘One hundred per cent of our revenue comes from clients — we will never accept any fees from anyone else,’ says Richard Rogerson. ‘I want clients to always have a sense that when they come to us, if we recommend anybody to them, it is because that person or that institution is very good at what they do, and they’re a right fit for the client.’ Previously both partners at law firm Macfarlanes, today the husband-and-wife duo run RFR — what they like to call the ‘property private office’ — after Sophie spotted a gap in the market in 2010: one for a firm that offered an ‘end-to-end service, like Macfarlanes did’. (Richard joined in 2012.) Their mission? To deliver a service on par with the best of the City’s law firms, delivering ‘intelligent, creative and seamless advice on all residential property matters’. ‘You can trust us in that, because […]



Top Five London Selling

‘I worked for an agency with a shop-front for three and a half years,’ says Russell. ‘I found it was probably as awkward for the agent as it was for the buyer. To walk into an open room and suddenly announce how much they had to spend, whether it was a little amount of a large amount, and then everybody stopped talking and looked at the people rather embarrassed, and I just thought, “Is this really necessary?”’ Today his family business remains ‘very private’: ‘When I started my company in 1979 people thought I was a bit mad, but now with computers and the internet, life has changed.’ An astute market observer, Russell has recently noticed that where properties are in poorer condition, prices are having to be lowered to attract attention. Buyers are increasingly keen on the ‘immediate self-gratification, turn-key type of situation’. ‘A lot of us living in […]



Top Five London Buying

What started out as a ‘despondent’ year for Scarisbrick drove him to take the summer off for a reflective break. Fortunately for the high-flyer (also a nominee for the Spear’s Property Adviser of the Year award), his return in September saw him inundated with enquiries from keen international buyers. ‘There was a sense that the market had been corrected enough to make it interesting,’ he says. ‘It’s good to be [in a buyer’s] market again where you can really roll up your sleeves for some fun negotiations.’ ‘I’m cautiously optimistic,’ he insists when asked about rumours of an imminent crash in London property prices. Known as someone who not only understands the new-build market but can also tell you which pubs empty their bottle bins at 4am, Scarisbrick is wary of ‘hazy’ predictions from number-crunching economists, as the industry is all about understanding human psychology: ‘Anyone who says they know […]


Bold & Reeves

Top Five Property Management

Bold & Reeves belongs to a select club of boutique firms that were created when the founder got tired of trying to find another company to offer the services he required — in this case a management firm that looks after property with the same attention to detail and service that an HNW looks after other assets, from classic cars to their wine cellar. The founder then realised that there was a gap in the market for doing exactly what they envisaged. Started in 2012 by Shipton and his partner James Sunley (president of the St Moritz Tobogganing Club) after the former spent months trying to finding a firm to look after a property portfolio owned by a Saudi family office, Bold & Reeves operates in London and the Home Counties (clients include a country estate near Newbury) partnering with many non-dom families, developers, landlords, family offices, prime estate agencies […]



Top Recommended London Buying

As capital growth over the years has facilitated property values reaching stratospheric levels, estate agency has become more akin to asset management or wealth management, says the immaculately dressed sales director, son and protégé of property legend Alan Russell (see opposite), who founded the firm 38 years ago. He stresses that advice, including market analysis and intelligence to ensure correct pricing, is vital in a complex and inconsistent marketplace where deals fall through all the time. Yet again, the firm has remained seemingly impervious to tough market conditions, trebling flat sales in the third quarter of 2016 from the same period the previous year, in spite of a slowdown in sales across the board. ‘By virtue of our independence as a relatively small company, we have been able to offer a different, dynamic and flexible approach which has allowed us to prosper in these difficult times,’ Russell explains. Specialising in […]



Top Ten Country

Described by one eminent contemporary as ‘the stand-out performer’ in the country buying market, Simpson’s star shone bright in 2016. She led more than £110 million-worth of acquisitions (including £70 million in solo deals) and says she has ‘tripled the turnover’ of Strutt & Parker’s independent buying consultancy since joining from Savills in 2014. One significant deal was the off-market purchase of a large £25 million landed estate that had a commercial element, shooting let to a third party, ‘numerous’ cottages, offshore entities, and ‘difficult fishing issues’, according to one intermediary. Simpson’s ‘dynamism, commitment, knowledge, professionalism and diplomacy’ saved the ‘sensitive’ deal. Another intermediary echoes this, crediting her ability to ‘hold the deal together when it looked like it was falling apart’. The amiable Simpson remains humble, however, as she credits her seven-strong team’s regional knowhow covering ‘all geographical areas’ in the country. ‘There’s a huge variation in pricing from […]



Top Five London Buying

There are things that every self-respecting property adviser should know: which flats have the best views and where the most secluded gardens lie. Then there are things you can learn after more than 25 years on the job. ‘I know the buildings where the lifts don’t work, where the porters get drunk and the tube runs underneath,’ says Stroud. ‘There are certain streets and squares where you want to be on a particular side for better sunlight. I’ve been doing this so many years now that I know where to look.’ Stroud works in a ‘slightly unorthodox’ way — happily, and for himself. ‘I get as much joy out of acquiring a £1.5 million flat as I do with a £10 million house,’ he says. ‘As long as I put my head on the pillow, knowing that my clients bought the right place at the right price, then I’m happy.’ The […]



Top Ten Country

If you were looking to sell a house in the country, the chances are someone would recommend you speak to Sweeting first. He’s in his 30th year at Knight Frank, which he joined after graduating in rural land management from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. The head of the country department describes 2016 as ‘interesting’, as clients rushed to buy before the stamp duty rise, followed by a ‘quiet’ four months from April, and a ‘very busy’ period from August onwards. The comeback put his department on par with its 2015 performance, he says, when it sold £889 million of country property. Meanwhile, the best deals continue to happen off-market, accounting for roughly 40 per cent of transactions in the £5 million-plus bracket. International buyers have made the most of currency flux, he says: ‘They’re probably 15 per cent better off buying in the country. From what I hear, London […]




The owner of one of the most enviable contacts book in global property, Thistlethwayte feels the pulse of the world’s wealth. (Having more than 700 offices with 30,000 people in 60-plus countries at your fingertips can’t hurt.) As head of Savills’ international residential department (he’s also worked in the city and the country departments), the frequent flyer offers the ‘best in class’ to the firm’s wealthiest UHNWs and developer clients, understanding their investment appetite and delivering global briefs on any given day. While he says Paris has had a strong recovery and locations like Lisbon and Berlin currently offer some ‘wonderful’ opportunities (resort developments that offer year-round revenue being particularly popular), Thistlethwayte says the British capital remains a robust destination for investment, despite an abundance of ‘fear and foreboding’ after the referendum. ‘London remains attractive,’ he says. ‘It’s a stable city, it’s still got strong rule of law. It may not […]



Top Five London Buying

A 10,000sq ft flat in One Hyde Park, London’s biggest rental deal last year, and the whole top floor of 20 Grosvenor Square (all 8,000sq ft of it) bought for ‘something north of £50 million’: these were among the stand-out transactions at Lichfields last year, which have left founder Tryon brimming with enthusiasm at the start of 2017. ‘Otherwise, we had eleven acquisitions with a combined value of just shy of £95 million, our second-best year,’ says the former Spear’s Property Adviser of the Year. ‘We still haven’t cracked the one hundred, but we’re getting closer.’ Lichfields’ success despite low stock levels, ‘too high’ prices, hiked-up stamp duty rates and uncertainty following Brexit is in large part due to its focus, which is sourcing off-plan new builds for a largely international client base buying for investment. Clients are mostly interested in ‘lateral’ accommodation — ‘in thirteen years as a buying […]



Top Five Property Finance

Enness Private’s co-founder and MD is thankful that he’s escaped the world of surveying and ventured instead into a service that matters most to UHNWs — the one that makes sure ‘everyone lives in a home’. ‘It’s one of the few financial decisions that has quite a personal tug on their heartstrings, whether it be pressure from family members, wives, their own machismo — or time,’ says Wade-Jones. It’s important therefore that the adviser stays ‘at the absolute top of the game’, he says. Suitably, Wade-Jones has aced his competitors in the landscape since founding the firm in 2007, and has recently been crowned the ‘Best Broker for Large Loans’ at the British Mortgage Awards. Apart from working with ‘every lender who will lend in the UK’ (high street banks, private banks and specialist providers), the straight-talking Wade-Jones says Enness Private is ‘the only real’ HNW mortgage brokerage that truly […]



Top Recommended London Selling

Ward recalls pestering Pereds founder Perry Press (a close friend of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin) for a job at the pioneer property consultancy. Press was the go-to guy in the Sixties, he says, for the cream of the rock aristocracy once they’d tired of screaming girls on tour and were looking to settle down in discreet homes around London and the UK. What has changed since? ‘They are not generally quite as rich as they used to be,’ says Ward. While he still maintains close relationships with rock stars from that era, he finds himself increasingly dealing with bankers, lawyers and a range of HNWs from other industries. ‘Our USP is us, really,’ he says. ‘We have a good insight into what people actually want and we have more knowledge probably than any — Perry’s been doing it for the 50th year this year, can you believe […]



Top Five Property Finance

Welch has noticed a worrying trend among vendors becoming highly geared as overpriced property is increasingly difficult to sell in a buyers’ market. ‘People are at a risk where they’d borrowed 70 per cent of gross development value and are now having to find another round of short-term funding — it’s going to be tough,’ he says. Despite the ‘dangerous and expensive’ trend of rebridging, Welch remains positive about the overall effect of Brexit: ‘London is cheaper — it’s a great opportunity for people to negotiate really good prices to buy.’ The multi-award-winning adviser is a cross-border operator, consulting’s 45-strong London team from his new abode in Guernsey. The firm is also known as the ‘luxury eBay’ for million-plus lending, used by top sportsmen, billionaires and ‘people who you would not believe’, he previously told Spear’s. A relentless financier who loves ‘challenging the status quo’, he has used his […]



Top Ten Country

‘The last few months have been interesting,’ says Wells, the MD at Prime Purchase who has 23 years in farms and estates under his belt, covering everything from commercial farmland and sporting estates to grouse moors and large country houses. Clients are seeking advice more than ever before, he says: ‘They’re no longer panicking about finding the property, but about finding it, properly appraising it and making sure it’s a sound investment’. Although the M40, M4 and M3 corridors and ‘anywhere near a good airport or good road connections back to the capital’ remain the hot spots, people are increasingly travelling further afield. ‘It’s a lot more sophisticated out there than people were giving it credit for a few years ago,’ he explains. The highlight of his job will always be sourcing homes for clients who will ‘enjoy the property on an everyday basis rather than using it as another […]



Top Five London Sales

Wetherell knows Mayfair like nobody else, as his @mayfairguru Twitter handle suggests. He has focused on the area for his entire career and has joked that if he had to quit his job, he would be ‘practically unemployable’. That seems rather unlikely. ‘It was a really hard-working year — I probably haven’t worked as hard since 1991,’ Wetherell says, pointing to the ‘perfect storm’ of political and economic flux in 2016. The effort certainly seems to have paid off: his firm maintained its position as Mayfair’s top agency, accounting for more than half the market in value terms, and more than a third in transaction volumes. The team also achieved the neighbourhood’s largest sale: a ‘magnificent’ £45 million mansion on Balfour Place (he says the details were leaked by the Land Registry), and the top rental: a Grosvenor Square mansion for £30,000 per week. He’s bullish when comparing his patch to […]



Top Recommended London Selling

Wilford says the former chancellor’s tax hike is proving more ‘restrictive’ the higher up the market one goes. ‘Buyers would rather stay where they are and dig up a basement or extend sideways than pay a million’s worth of stamp duty to move house,’ he adds. The sellers suffer, too, he says, as they’re the ones ‘taking the bitter pill of either accepting the offer which encompasses the additional stamp duty or not selling the property’. Such effects have dampened the Kensington and Chelsea market, where the west London specialist says prices have dropped by 9-12 per cent in the past year: ‘There’s no point in putting it on for the same price as a similar house traded out eighteen months ago — that’s being in denial.’ However, Wilford, who has recently sold half a Victorian villa in Holland Park, notices that transactions are taking a turn for the better […]




A former journalist and communications honcho at the BBC and Reuters, today Williams is a respected corporate counsellor, advising movers and shakers on strategy and crisis management as head of Edelman’s UK & Ireland business. ‘Quite honestly I wanted to be in the room before big decisions were being made, not after, reporting on them,’ he has previously told Spear’s, explaining his move to the dark side. He wanted to leverage his knowledge of how ‘issues evolve and are shaped’. Now working with clients like Microsoft and Unilever at the world’s largest independent PR firm, it’s safe to say he’s done it. Williams went on to work for the BBC in 2008, leading the group communications division and acting as senior adviser to the then director-general, Mark Thompson. Those ‘supercharged’ years there gave him uncommon understanding of the pressures of a multiple stakeholder environment — from business to politics. Before […]