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Germany is no longer the most popular destination for commercial real estate investment, according to BrickVest’s latest commercial property investment barometer. Formerly the most popular location in Q3 2017, Germany has now fallen in favour among investors behind the UK, US and France.

Germany saw a drop in popularity from 34% to 23% in the last quarter, marking its lowest rating since Q2 2016. The UK, however, rose from 27% to 29% in Q4 2017, managing to sustain its favourability by consistently ranking above 25%.

Both the US and France have also gained popularity with investors, with nearly one in five (19%) preferring the US over other regions and 18% now selecting France as their location of choice (up 4% since Q2 2016).

The Barometer also revealed that the hunt for income ranked highest (38%) as the primary investment objective of BrickVest investors this past quarter. This has risen by 6% from 32% in Q3 2017.

Notably, interest in secondary cities as target markets continues to steadily increase (from 37% in Q3 2017 to 41% by the end of 2017). These include Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol etc.)

Emmanuel Lumineau, CEO at BrickVest, commented: “Our latest Barometer reveals that Germany is no longer the favoured destination for commercial real estate investment, contrary to its position in Q3 2017. Rather, the UK has once again become the most popular region for our investors.”

“There have been similar changes in other aspects of the data, including the greater emphasis placed on the hunt for income and the growing popularity of secondary cities as target markets. As the year progresses and we continue to conduct our Barometer, it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to these underlying factors affecting the real estate market.”

(Source: BrickVest)

This new year, there is one question on the lips of business men and women around the UK: “Is now the best time to purchase commercial property?” Thus, commercial property experts, Savoystewart.co.uk, have analysed how the market faired in 2017, and whether 2018 is the ‘peak time’ to buy.

The latest Property Data Report shows that since 2000, the value of the UK’s commercial property stock has grown, considerably, at an average of 3% each year – surprisingly, more than RPI inflation, which grows at an average rate of 2.8%.

Whilst exploring the report, Savoy Stewart found that the commercial property market in the UK in 2016 was valued at a staggering £883 billion, representing 10% of the UK’s net wealth. Investors now own £486 billion worth of commercial property in the UK; with overseas investors owning 29%.

In central London alone, around £2.4 billion was invested in commercial property, resulting in the total turnover for the end of July reaching a substantial £11.5 billion – a 24% increase on the same point a year earlier, in 2016.

July was the strongest month recorded for the City of London since March 2007, owing to the sale of the “Walkie Talkie” building – the UK’s largest single office building deal – which accounted for a staggering 61% of turnover.

Is now the best time to purchase commercial property?

2017 was a much stronger year than many ever anticipated. The economy pleasantly surprised many businesses and forecasters, with unemployment falling to the lowest level since 1975, consumer spending robust, and occupier take-up healthy.

According to Knight Frank, London office take-up is on the rise, despite the impact of Brexit, with demand in the West End at its highest for more than a decade. Savoy Stewart concluded, from their analysis of the research, that the third quarter of 2017 recorded the highest level of office take-up.

A substantial 3.8 million square feet of office space in central London was under offer and was due to close by the end of the year – and it is predicted to be the strongest final quarter since 2014. Office take-up in the West End alone reached 1.65 million square feet.

Trends in 2018

The uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the EU will continue to cast a shadow over economic growth throughout 2018, resulting in a more cautious outlook amongst investors across all commercial property sectors. As a result, activity may be subdued, but it doesn’t

mean investment will stop any time soon, as investment volumes in the UK commercial property market, this year, are expected to total around £55 billion, per a report by JLL.

Savoy Stewart considered Savills ‘Sector Outlook’ and summarised the six main trends for commercial property in 2018:

  1. Non-domestic demand for UK commercial property to remain strong; Due to the weakening of the pound and commercial property yields looking high in comparison to prime European and Asian markets.
  2. Now is the best time to add value, and for opportunistic investors; Less competition and falling prices means now is the best opportunity to value-add and for opportunistic investors looking to change short-term income into long-term.
  3. Real earnings growth will improve for the retail market; In 2017, a perfect storm of negativity hit retail, but this year will better news. Watch out for good buys in some segments of the commercial property market – don’t just buy because it’s cheap.
  4. Brexit: It will become clearer how much, where and when the risks will be. London’s office market shrugged off the worst of the pre-Brexit negativity last year; 2018 will see more balance.
  5. 2018 will be the year of ‘alternatives’; The pace of recovery will be dictated predominantly by Brexit; investors this year will be exploring new opportunities in the market.
  6. New-tech tools, such as AI, will emerge; Wellness and staff satisfaction will continue to be important for employers, but some businesses will start to look at offsetting the costs of delivering wellness by using artificial intelligence.

Managing Director of Savoystewart.co.uk, Darren Best, discusses his view on commercial property investment in 2018: “As the figures show, despite the uncertainty around Brexit, London is still a pre-eminent city and performing better than Europe in some sectors. The research suggests that now is the best time to purchase commercial property in the UK, now that business confidence is more stable than many expected, which speaks volumes.”

He added: “The performance of the market, last year, surprised many of us. Occupiers are continuing to commit to London commercial property to satisfy their needs, and with the increase in foreign investment in UK commercial property over the last decade and overseas investors now owning 29% of UK commercial properties, it is safe to say 2018 isn’t going to be all doom and gloom – there will be scope for optimism too.”

Chris Dyson is an executive coach who runs a company called The Big Blue Box Ltd. He founded the company in 2002 as a vehicle for his emerging coaching practice, however, he’s been coaching full-time ever since. According to its founder, the mission of The Big Blue Box is to ‘unlock potential’ and its aim is to make a client’s working life more enjoyable, productive, fulfilling and, as a consequence of this, happier. This is achieved through coaching in a style which facilitates, supports and challenges people and, in doing so, brings about positive, life-changing results, both inside and outside the workplace. Here Chris tells us more about it.

 

What would you say makes you and The Big Blue Box ideally placed to provide coaching?

Whilst I did not consciously plan my career to bring me to this role, everything I have done in my life and career has contributed.

My coaching style has been informed and shaped by my experience in senior leadership roles, both inside corporate life and outside of it. I’ve experienced and worked through many of the things my coachees bring to our conversations. Rather than basing my practice on a single specific doctrine or pure theory, it has developed through my own experience and by observing what works for different coachees in different situations. My coaching practice is eclectic, integrated, flexible, practical, pragmatic and evolving. It plays to my strengths and draws on my capabilities.

I keep in mind my coachees come wanting tangible results and structure coaching accordingly. I come to the coachee’s chosen meeting location and ensure they get value right from their very first session with me.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background career prior to setting up The Big Blue Box? 

My career started as a graduate in retail, moved on to managing teams, then larger teams and ultimately - a nationwide organisation. I transferred to the supply chain, logistics and distribution side of things and moved through a series of general management roles before gaining Board experience as an Operations Director. An MBA enabled the step up to Managing Directorships through which I gained invaluable experience managing investors and shareholders and shaping leadership teams, operations and strategy.

 

How did the idea about The Big Blue Box come about?

Before starting the Big Blue Box, I’d always worked for other people. What I really wanted was to have control of my destiny. Initially, I became a bit of a serial entrepreneur - experimenting with a portfolio of business ideas and structures.

During this time, I was undertaking some consultancy when a client said: ‘Chris, can I have a word…?’ We went into a quiet office and the client asked if they could just talk to me about some things that were on their mind and had nothing to do with the project. I said OK and they started to tell me their concerns about their job, their boss, their career, their life!

It set me thinking - the client clearly found value in the conversation and applying what they’d gained from it had potential for greater immediate impact than the project I was working on. Equally clear was that I seemed to have an aptitude for this style of conversation. Back then in 2002, in the very early days before coaching was as mainstream as it is now, HR were cautious and senior leadership sponsorship was hard won so marketing was tough. However, early successes proved the concept and I developed my style and skills.

Coachees became advocates and my business grew organically. People I had worked with in one organisation moved on and introduced me to their new organisations.

 

What is The Big Blue Box, how did you decide upon that name?

I became intrigued by the simple idea of a tool box - somewhere to find the right solution for a problem, to find that special tool, to use it and then to put it back till it is needed again. Somewhere solid and stable to keep things – somewhere safe and secure with a lock and key. It is blue because that is a cool, calm, natural colour – but also suggests blue skies, space (and the cliché about ‘blue sky thinking’).

People find the image intriguing, it has the unforeseen benefit of being a great conversation starter when people ask about it! The phrase ‘The Big Blue Box’ is a bit tricky to pronounce, making it memorable. I also liked the anonymity of the name: like my coaching, it’s not about ‘me’. The name and logo just seemed to be right on so many levels.

 

What motivates you most about coaching? What inspires you to press further into your work?

Many people have said that they wish they could have my job. I love coaching, it seems very natural to me, and it doesn’t feel like work. I get to meet interesting people and to have engaging conversations with them. More often than not, there are ‘significant moments’ in the conversation, perhaps an insight, a connection, a moment of reflection or a realisation. A coach is like a catalyst - enabling a change to happen but unchanging themselves. Changes happen and it’s incredibly rewarding.

For a coachee, a coaching conversation is unlike any other conversation they might have with anyone else in their life – it’s not like a conversation with a boss or a colleague, a life partner, family member or a friend. Because it is confidential and like talking to a stranger, people open up.

People really value their coaching, almost every person says it is the only time that they can legitimately stop everything, and talk - the only time that it is just about ‘them’, when they can get some perspective, to reflect, think and plan. You can see their mood change, they often look different, smiling, calmer, clearer and focused, energised, resolute and decisive. Often, when we meet for the next session, people can’t wait to tell me about the things they have achieved.

But coaching is also part of my life in other areas – in my spare time, I work in a charity as an advanced motorcycling instructor.

 

How is coaching perceived?

In the early days, I recall one organisation responded to our marketing outreach by saying ‘Oh no, we don’t believe in coaching, they [our people] should be able to do their job’.

Until a few years ago, coaching was seen as a remedial activity, individuals would have been concerned about even engaging with a coach because of the signals it could have sent.

The balance is shifting, coaching is now seen as a powerful, premium intervention. Individually, people are now actively seeking out and engaging with coaching. Leading organisations are integrating it into their culture - they now understand and actively support coaching for their key people. Senior players in an organisation would usually seek out an external coach, for the stimulus and challenge but also to avoid any internal conflicts of interest or confidentiality issues.

 

What are the typical ‘coachees’ that you work with?

My coachees are almost exclusively employed within organisations. They are 30+, mid-life and mid-career, highly ambitious, experienced in their role and with significant responsibilities. They could be part of the talent pool, the high potentials, or the emerging or current leadership cadre through to Board level, C Suite. Their roles have titles such as: Head of, General Manager, Director, Managing Director, VP and Chief Officer. etc. They can be from any functional area or expertise and are highly skilled. Their professional skills are not an issue.

I also have a small number of private clients. These are often coachees who want to retain the coaching relationship beyond their corporate’s sponsorship. Several of my coachees and corporate coaching sponsors have even engaged me privately, to work with members of their family or recommended me to their friend’s.

 

What kind of challenges do you find your coaching helps with?

All my coaching is focused around improving the performance of the individual - at work. But if the ‘whole person’ comes to work then their performance can be influenced by factors inside and outside work. And the benefits can be outside the work context too.

Most coachees have complex lives, they are ‘time poor’ and have significant demands made upon them. They could be stressed or even overwhelmed, their behaviour may deteriorate, and relationships become strained.

They are often struggling to achieve a balance - between work and home, their own career and their partner’s, between ‘carer responsibilities’ for children and sometimes for aging parents. Support and resilience is tested. They don’t have time to care for themselves, their diet, exercise, or rest.

For some, the ‘rules’ change: before and after promotions or restructures, they struggle with detail and perspective, with the change from professional to manager or leader, moving from operations to strategy, from control to influence, and with understanding politics, negotiation and compromise. Some other challenges are: delegation and managing upwards, conflict – and how to manage it, time and personal effectiveness - perhaps with significantly overfilled in-boxes of ‘unread’ messages.

They don’t have somewhere to talk about many of these things, so decisions don’t get made and the cycle continues. That’s when coaching can help.

 

Do you work in particular industry sectors, what kind of organisations do your coachees work in?

Client organisations tend to be substantial, structured and with international reach. The organisations I coach in are diverse – I work across sectors including financial services and banking, industry and professional bodies, automotive and airlines, engineering and architecture, IT and media, consultancy and design, the NHS and central and local government and agencies, restaurants and entertainments. It’s interesting but whilst some organisations take comfort from knowing that I have experience in their sector, but really, it’s all about people, and actually, the ability to ask the apparently simple question opens up a new understanding.

Whilst the majority of my client organisations are UK-based, I have worked in Europe and I’ve continued to work with clients in the USA over several years.

 

How does coaching work?

Emerging understanding of the workings of the brain is very informative, particularly around stress and emotions. Change can be a challenge but raising self-awareness is a good starting point.

The key to unlocking our understanding of ourselves is often hidden in plain sight, but it may take someone else to help us to see it, coaching helps to find the key and implement the solution. For example:

The 50-year-old leader of the ‘stand out’ business unit in a global organisation had recently developed a fear of reporting at the global quarterly reviews. Asked to explain how that felt, the coachee said: ‘It feels like I’m back in the headteacher’s study at school’. From that insight, identifying the key to understanding their behaviour identified the precise trivial incident that triggered this fear, originally experienced in the headteacher’s study, but replayed in the board room.

 

Tell us about your coaching, is there a process that you go through with your coachees?

I may be given a briefing by the organisation about the coachee and I would decide to proceed if the brief fits my capability. Contact details would be exchanged, and an initial phone call would seek to answer any of the coachee’s concerns before a first meeting is arranged.

It may be an obvious point, but coaching sessions are held at a venue that is comfortable and appropriate for the coachee. This could be at their place of work, perhaps a quiet meeting room, or ‘off-site’. For me, having the flexibility to travel by motorbike is a great advantage, but it’s also often a connection, a conversation topic, and a useful metaphor.

One of the single most important factors in the effectiveness of any coaching project is the relationship between the coachee and the coach. One objective at this first meeting is a simple ‘Chemistry Test’ – can the coachee and I work together? I would also clarify the understanding around items such as ethics, boundaries, confidentiality, the initial objectives and the process. Almost invariably the coachee engages, the relationship is established, and the coaching happens ‘naturally’.

I undertake a ‘diagnosis’ with the coachee. Whilst there may be ‘presenting’ issues, sometimes the ‘real’ issues are only revealed by careful exploration.

The conversation gives the coachee time to tell their story. As the coach, my initial role is simply to listen, ask questions, observe patterns, unravel the details and illuminate them for the coachee. Challenges and suggestions may be appropriate. Sometimes, it may be helpful for me to share my own experiences, but it is all about helping the coachee raise their self-awareness.

There is usually some significant moment in the first session when something happens for the coachee. The conversations are often ‘emotional’ and can be life-changing.

I ensure that I have a clear understanding with the organisation that the coaching conversation is confidential. This means that I don’t report back to the sponsors about the discussion, the issues or the outcomes. Any reporting back to the organisation has to come from the coachee. Trust is essential.

Initially, I limit any coaching project to just 4 sessions – everyone expects results and a limit to the number of sessions tends to focus the attention. However, each session is of ‘indeterminate duration’ – as long, or as short as it needs to be. Usually the first two sessions can be 2 – 3 hours long, some are even longer. The purpose is to fully explore the coachee’s story, not to cut it short by time constraints.

I ask my coachees not to have important meetings just before or after our sessions. On several occasions, the immediate outcomes have been powerful enough for the coachee to want to go home after the session to reflect.

Later stages in the coaching process move to explore ways that the coachee could enhance their self-management and ability to be aware of and influence other people effectively, based upon their understanding of themselves.

I often encourage coachees to invite their sponsor or boss to join us for a 3-way conversation in our final meeting in the coaching series. This can be very impactful. In one case, over a period of time, a coachee had made themselves ill, striving for the recognition which had not been given to them as a child. Hearing praise from their boss in our 3-way meeting brought tears, and changed the boss’s behaviour too.

I ask all my coachees to complete an evaluation questionnaire as they move through the final stages of the coaching series. This captures their reflections and assessment.

 

What kind of outcomes can be achieved, how could our readers measure the outcomes?

Almost without exception there is one outcome all coachees achieve – they remark that the coaching conversation is the only time in their lives that they stop, have time to talk, to think, to reflect.

My coaching usually creates a multitude of outcomes which can be across any area of the coachee’s life, these outcomes could have an immediate and direct impact at work. Other outcomes, perhaps outside the work context, could be confidential for the coachee.

This creates a challenge for measuring coaching. Anecdotal, observation and self-assessment may capture the extent of the outcomes but not quantify the change. The coachee and those closest to them are most likely to have the best opportunity to determine the real outcomes. A report from the coachee and sponsor at the conclusion of the coaching and a further review after the passage of time would be a pragmatic approach.

Sometimes, an outcome could be a simple ‘quick win’. Email is often a significant cause of stress and poor performance, leading to poor communications and decision-making and the culture of the organisation is in part responsible. Strategies to achieve a ‘Zero Inbox’ might be a simple outcome and a quick win!

Hard outcomes, unlocking the potential in coachees include: winning competitive promotions, supporting succession and promotions to board level roles, accelerating career, team performance outcomes, behaviour changes in senior leaders – with consequent impact cascading through the organisation, catalyzing culture change within an organisation - introduction of a coaching culture, helping board members negotiate new roles and become strategic and politically more aware, enabling a leader to understand their response to conflict, enabling delegation with improved performance and engagement from direct reports.

Softer outcomes include finding or rebuilding a balance in life, improved relationships with work colleagues and crucially, also at home, being clearer about a career direction or career choice, gaining a greater sense of purpose, enhanced confidence, self-esteem, but also losing weight and getting fitter.

Life-changing outcomes, when significant change is achieved in several areas, are exemplified by the case of assisting a key person to return to work after an absence caused by stress. In the coaching sessions they re-examined their values, drivers and purpose, which changed their behaviours. This changed relationships at home and at work, and also rebalanced their lifestyle, which improved resilience, and their performance at work. Their talent was retained by the organisation.

 

What are your main goals for the future?

I’ve seen the business grow organically and by recommendation. I envisage that is how it will continue. It’s about the personal connection and I want to retain that.

I’d now particularly like to grow my business into the USA.  I’ve got a significant number of coachees and a good network out there and I’ve tapped into some of the Government-funded support available. I’d like to see my US client base expand over the next few years, developing both my existing clients and connecting with new ones. I have been particularly successful in California, so that is a specific target area.

 

Website: https://thebigbluebox.wordpress.com/

Speciality MGA Fiducia has teamed up with a Lloyd’s insurer, Atrium Underwriting, to produce a new terrorism product which will allow brokers to offer specific cover to their clients of all sizes.

Fiducia and Atrium have developed the terrorism and sabotage policy which takes account of the changing risks associated with the latest types of terror threats.

While the UK insurance sector’s specialist terrorism risk pool, Pool Re, offers cover, it does so in most cases only if the insured’s building suffered physical damage.

However, there is now a real demand for terrorism cover which is triggered if a business suffers business interruption, although there is no physical damage to the insured’s premises.

Many firms in the recent attacks on the Manchester Arena and Borough Market found they were unable to access their buildings due to the ongoing police operations for some days or weeks afterwards. Businesses in Borough Market have also said they have seen a significant fall in trade as visitors are concerned to go to the area following the attack.

Underwriter at Fiducia, David Heeney says: “Understanding the benefits of having a standalone terrorism policy is a difficult proposition for many clients but we at Fiducia have developed, for UK regional brokers, a market leading terrorism product to assist them in engaging with clients who feel their property and assets may not be vulnerable to an act of terrorism.

“Following previous terrorism events 70% of the companies that went out of business due to the after effects had suffered no physical damage or loss. They simply were unable to access their buildings and the area, which had been popular with visitors, no longer held any attraction so business was dramatically reduced.”

He adds: “There has been a demand for terrorism cover that offers protection above and beyond that offered by the Pool Re scheme. While Lloyd’s underwriters have been providing cover with extensions for business interruption, denial of access and loss of attraction, regional brokers have not really had the ability to access it until now.”

He says that the policy comes with access to Atrium’s unique risk management analysis software that will enable brokers to provide detailed advice on the level and type of insurance needed by their clients on an individual basis.

“Blast Zone Exposure Management is a unique risk management analysis software,” he explains. “Our experience shows us that the largest single location often isn't the largest accumulation of exposure a client has within a 200 metre blast zone where they can suffer both physical damage and business interruption that reaches far beyond a top single location value. We can analyse the insured’s assets and assist them in selecting a level of cover to match their accumulation of exposure, eliminating under and over insurance.”

Stuart Harmer Underwriter Political Violence at Atrium said: “We are excited to be supporting the Fiducia team. The company has put first class service levels at the heart of their business. At Atrium we choose our partners carefully and we are confident that Fiducia and the innovative products they have designed and created will provide a very attractive alternative to those currently in the market. From the outset of our discussions we have been impressed by the drive, professionalism and depth of knowledge within Fiducia and we look forward to a long and successful partnership”

(Source: Fiducia)

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