Turning our attention to office leasing, Finance Monthly interviewed the Managing Director of JLL Czech Republic and CEE Board Member-Tewfik Sabongui who offers a rich insight into the sector and tells us about the strategies that he employs when advising his clients.

JLL was established in the Czech Republic back in 1992, as the first country from the current seven countries in CEE.


Can you tell FM a little about the services you provide and the kind of clients you deal with?

Our clients are a mix of global, international and local clients to whom we offer a wide range of services, such as leasing services (office, industrial and retail), valuation, investment, project management, residential, design & fit-out, technical due diligence and research.


How do you tailor your services to the needs of each individual client?

It is absolutely critical that we identify and design the scope of our services to the specific client needs and in line with the contemporary trends and requirements of the clients in each market, in order to advise them on how to meet their current and future plans. One of the latest trends in the office sector today for example is "work space" solutions, which are currently important to developers, occupiers and investors alike. Today, a simple design of the office including space plan and work stations solutions or meeting the latest sustainability requirements is no longer enough. We now have to assist with designing an office that will create an environment which will offer ample flexibility, grow productivity and create a "happy" feel, one that will improve internal communication levels, retain employees and attract new talent. On the other hand, each client, depending on his business model, requires dedicated and special attention. Investors will look mainly at yielding and value add assets, ideally in prime locations with blue chip tenant mix, while developers will focus on the right location, the overall size of the project and how much can be build and how to best construct and design it to allow maximum flexibility when dividing the space for multiple tenants. Tenants on the other hand are very similar to the Developers, they look for properties and offices which offer them enough flexible space with a potential for future expansions and growth, an efficient layout, in a good location in terms of amenities and access and developed meeting the latest norms and standards of sustainability.


Are there at times particular challenges involved in delivering services? Do you have any examples?

The challenges are our daily bread and butter. These can be very different as every client needs to achieve a specific goal. However, I’d say that the most common types of challenges that we deal with on a daily basis are of technical and commercial nature. IT solutions are also becoming an integrated part of our modern business conduct and hence there is a constant need and strive to be always ahead of the curve.


As a thought leader, what specific tactics do you implement when assisting clients with office leasing? What are the complexities that you are faced with in the process of negotiating lease terms?

I would say that there are no special tactics – what is vital is to able to carefully listen to what the client is saying and what their needs are in order to provide the right advice and service and work determinably on achieving it. One of the most common mistakes advisors do is to assume things without having properly understood what their clients’ needs are.


What is the process for assisting clients with financial analysis? What are the key considerations that need to be looked at to successfully assist your clients?

It is critical to have a good understanding of both the local market and the global sentiment and requirements, in order to be able to provide quality financial analysis to clients. A proper underwriting of the asset, being able to factor all different types of variables that affect the price calculation, thorough market intelligence and technical due diligence are all imperative for a successful financial analysis, which also need to be supported by solid legal and tax advice, and a targeted marketing plan with well-prepared reports.


Do you have a mantra or motto you live by when it comes to helping your clients with office leasing?

The one thing that I constantly remind myself of when advising clients is that I want to treat my clients the very same way I would like to be treated and to always strive to do everything in the best possible way I can. Personal relationships and building a base of trust and  transparency while maintaining an ethical code are absolutely critical to developing and retaining such relationships.