The Association of Real Estate Funds is a not-for-profit trade association, based in the City of London. 

Much of the association’s activity is driven by the valuable work of our various committees within AREF. Each one reports into our Management Committee, responsible for steering the association, which in turn reports into the Board, the overall governing body for AREF.

As such, we benefit from the collective expertise and extensive experience of representatives from all our member firms, as well as professional investors and investment consultants.

From April 2019, AREF extended its strategic partnership with the Investment Association, becoming a Special Member.  This partnership materially enhances the resources available to both parties: for AREF, particularly regarding its policy and lobbying activities; for the IA, AREF becomes their centre of excellence in all things real estate.


The AREF Board

The Board is responsible for the strategic direction of the association. It consists of eight non-executives, one of which is the Chairman, and one executive director, the Chief Executive Officer for AREF.

Adrian Benedict

Adrian Benedict

Head of Real Estate Solutions, Fidelity

Adrian is the current Chair of the Association of Real Estate Funds, and previously Chaired the AREF Corporate Governance Committee.

Adrian currently holds the position of Head of Real Estate Solutions at Fidelity International. He is responsible for delivering new client solutions, innovation and overall business development activities. Adrian has been advising and working within the real estate industry for more than two decades.

Having originally trained as a Civil Engineer he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PWC before joining UBS Investment Bank. During this latter role he specialised in providing M&A, IPO and debt advice for listed property companies across the globe. For the latter half of his career, Adrian has worked in real estate asset management roles covering capital raising, fund structuring and debt financing. He is a passionate advocate for real assets and the important role it can play as part of a long term savings solution but also how the industry can improve to deliver its benefits to a wider client audience

Kevin Aitchison

Kevin Aitchison

Head of Knight Frank Investment Management, Knight Frank Investment Management

Kevin is the Head of Knight Frank Investment Mangement and has over 25 years’ experience in the UK real estate market.  Before joining the business, he spent 11 years at ING Real Estate Investment Management (ING REIM), culminating in his appointment as CEO of the UK business in October 2008.  During his time at ING he had extensive experience of the portfolio and fund management of both segregated accounts and collective investment schemes, acting on behalf of a variety of UK and overseas institutional clients.  As CEO he took responsibility for the re-structuring of the ING REIM UK business, creating an enhanced focus on client service and performance.

Kevin is a member of the Investment Property Forum.  In his spare time he is Chair to the Board of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, the only contact sport for tetraplegic athletes, suffering both upper and lower limb disability.

Paolo Alonzi

Paolo Alonzi

Global Head of Real Estate Business, Aberdeen Standard Investments

Paolo is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is Global Head of Real Estate Business Finance and Strategy at Aberdeen Standard Investments (“ASI”).  As a member of the Real Estate Investment Management Committee at ASI Paolo is responsible for providing strategic leadership and input at both business and product level whilst also being responsible for overseeing and managing the profitability of the real estate division.  In his time at ASI Paolo has been heavily involved in and often been the lead on  a number of high profile initiatives including a wide range of product launches, the industry leading merger of two PAIFs, and the development of the firm’s commercial real estate lending platform, as well as playing a key role in developing the firm’s leading real estate ESG capability.

Paolo is a recognised figure in the real estate industry with various roles at AREF (Board, Management Committee and Public Affairs Committee) as well as INREV. 

Anne Breen

Anne Breen

Head of Investment Strategy (Real Estate), Abrdn

Anne’s role is to lead the investment approach, process and strategy for the real estate business at Aberdeen Standard. This includes the creation of a Global Houseview to support real estate investment allocations relevant to all investor outcomes, as well as the development of the risk based tools and strategic insights to deliver a strong long term risk adjusted track record for clients. Anne chairs the global committees across the Real Estate business assessing fund strategic plans for investment, distributions and asset management.

Deborah Lloyd

Deborah Lloyd

Independent Consultant

Deborah Lloyd is the former Chairman of the Association of Real Estate Funds until 2020, and until 2015 was the Vice Chairman of the Management Board of INREV. She is also a non-executive board member of Kames Target Healthcare Fund, a consultant to the student accommodation fund manager, Curlew Capital and a member of the University of London’s property committee.

Until 2016 Deborah, for 23 years, was a Partner at law firm Nabarro LLP, now part of CMS, where she co-founded the Funds and Indirect Real Estate team, which is ranked tier 1 in Legal 500. At Nabarro she set up and advised on funds for institutional and private equity fund managers including Aviva Investors, Standard Life, Henderson, Knight Frank, Cromwell, Kames Capital, iQ, Catalyst Capital, Rockspring, Aberdeen (SWIP), IMPAX, Curlew Capital, Eskmuir Asset Management. Deborah has a legal background in direct real estate, so understands real estate as an asset class from a development and leasing perspective.

Rebecca Middleon

Rebecca Middleon

Fund Manager, DTZ Investors

Rebecca is a Fund Manager at DTZ Investors, managing investments in both listed and unlisted indirect real estate on both a discretionary and advisory basis for a range of clients. Rebecca has worked at DTZ Investors for 10 years and during this time, has been instrumental in lobbying fund managers and working with other investment managers in order to improve fund terms for investors, increase transparency and raise reporting standards. Rebecca was previously a member of the AREF Corporate Governance Committee, holding this position for two years.

Rebecca’s core competencies are in the management of indirect property portfolios and she has a range of experience including:
  • Developing investment strategies for investors;
  • Implementation of investment strategy through sourcing, negotiating and underwriting new issuance and secondary market transactions;
  • Appraisal of investment managers;
  • Fund due diligence;
  • REITs and more liquid structures
  • Trading, redemptions and fund liquidations.
Professional Qualifications
Rebecca is a holder of the Investment Management Certificate (IMC January 2010)
Rebecca has a BSc (Hons) Economics, University of Surrey (2009)
Simon Radford

Simon Radford

Principal Founder, Lothbury Investment Management

Simon is the principal founder of Lothbury Investment Management Limited in the UK. He has 34 years’ experience in managing property investments on behalf of institutional clients and pension funds.

Simon was previously a Director with NatWest Investment Management and Gartmore Investment Management. He is currently Chief Executive of Lothbury Investment Management Limited which has assets under management of over £1.8bn.

Simon is a Director of The Association of Real Estate Funds and a member of the RICS Planning & Development Professional Group Board. He is also a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, The British Council of Shopping Centres and The Investment Property Forum.
Paul Richards

Paul Richards

Managing Director, AREF

Paul is the Managing Director of AREF.

Before joining AREF, Paul was Head of the European Real Estate Boutique within Mercer’s investment consulting business for almost 10 years, previously he was Head of Indirect Real Estate Investment and Global Managed Accounts at LaSalle Investment Management, where he was responsible for managing global portfolios of unlisted real estate funds for clients from Europe and Asia Pacific.

He has over 25 years of real estate experience in investment, corporate finance and research, and has advised investors, occupiers and venture capital companies on property portfolio strategy and on financial structuring, including PFI, senior and mezzanine debt and joint venture arrangements. His employers have included LaSalle Investment Management, Cushman & Wakefield and Henderson Investors.

Before coming into the world of real estate, Paul worked in marketing and market research. He originally studied Physiological Sciences at Lincoln College, Oxford and has a Master of Science in Real Estate from City University Business School, London, now Cass Business School.

Nick Thompson

Nick Thompson


Until his retirement in 2004 Head of Fund and Investment Management at Prudential (PPIM).

Since then Nick has held a variety of property investment related roles which currently include being Chairman of Picton Property Income Ltd (formerly the ING Real Estate Income Trust Ltd).  He is also a Director of the Lend Lease Retail Partnership and is Chairman of IPD’s UK & Ireland Consultative Group.  He performs a similar role for the Property & Infrastructure Forum of the Association of Investment Companies.

Nick is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.