My MIPIM: Alistair Allison


With MIPIM 2019 fast approaching, we caught up with the team to get their thoughts on the world’s biggest property event.

First up, we asked Alistair Allison, Partner at TFT, what he thought of the changing property landscape, hype versus utility and his advice for any MIPIM first-timers!

What has changed the most in your work/ industry view, since MIPIM 2018?

Globalisation of the UK market has been particularly evident over the past 12 months, with significant investment and development capital coming over from Asia and North America. Whilst historically this was limited to trophy assets in London, the focus is stretching to regional cities and logistics assets. Despite what we assumed would be a tentative market in anticipation of Brexit, we have also seen increasing transaction volumes across the board this year, including a notably increased appetite of UK based investors seeking to invest in mainland Europe.

What sector changes are interesting you at the moment?

Co-working office space providers have continued to evolve and challenge the traditional office concept, growing their market share and forcing traditional landlords to embrace customer service, flexibility and the ‘experience’. Whilst this is not likely to overly threaten the market for larger corporate space providers and occupiers, it certainly reinforces the need to move away from the adversarial landlord and tenant relationship to resemble a provider and customer relationship.

The immediate impacts include flexible leasing terms, space that considers ‘wellness’ as a priority and additional services on top of the space itself. In the long term, these different approaches will open many opportunities that landlords may have considered off the table historically.

Is proptech going to set the agenda this year? Do you think that it should?

Real, disrupting technology that changes the way the property industry works should absolutely be high on the agenda. For instance, I’m interested in the nascent use of block-chain technology to unlock liquidity issues and costs in real estate transactions.

However, with all of the hype surrounding ‘Proptech’, there is still some confusion over what is really innovative and game-changing and what is simply an improvement in tech that assists the way we work. Both are needed, but I would like to enter more discussions about the future operation of our industry, and how we can prepare today for current (and future) technological advances in real estate.

MIPIM’s 30th edition slogan is ‘Engaging the future’ – what should the industry do now to succeed in the next 30 years?

Focus on talent and investing in the future from school age upwards. The younger generation is far less fixed on a traditional career and arguably faced with far more exciting and interesting prospects. The application of ‘tech’ in the property industry will open up a wider scope of roles and skillsets we may never have considered important for our work to date.

What should every MIPIM first-timer do, or not do?

Plan your diary carefully and resist the temptation to attend back-to-back events. The instinct is to book everything you can in the hope that you’ll meet your dream clients/contacts. But with everyone stepping outside of their normal business environment, MIPIM is the ideal opportunity to meet with industry contacts, existing or potential clients etc to really understand a bit more about their business and aspirations. That’s not always possible with a crammed agenda!