10 Jul 2024

This last month has been a particularly busy one for AREF, as the final preparations were made for our conference, held on 25th June. Reflecting on this excellent event, at London’s Merchant Taylors’ Hall, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who spoke, moderated, and attended.

Our sessions covered a diverse range of topics, from measuring risk in levelling up investments to the challenges of over-farming. We started by addressing the need to diversify the industry’s employee base and ended with discussions on supporting new pension investors, particularly the nation’s large and growing defined contribution funds.

Our new Chair, Anne Breen, emphasised the crucial role the real estate industry can play in revitalising cities and communities. Keynote speaker Robert Peston highlighted Labour’s commitment to planning reform, sparking engaging discussions.

Panel discussions delved into the housing crisis, natural capital, managing stranded assets, and envisioning the industry's future in 2040.

Throughout the day, we heard a strong desire for political stability, optimism about planning reform, and valuable lessons from Canada’s success in funding housing.

It was a day filled with insights, a gathering of like-minded professionals, and a reminder that our industry has plenty of opportunities ahead.

Thank you all once again for making this event a success! A special thank you also to all the AREF team and conference planning committee, without whom this event simply wouldn’t have happened. In particular, I should like to mention the hard work of Mel and the tireless contributions of our Head of Marketing and Events, Clare.   

And indeed, I must thank The Citco Group Limited for sponsoring the conference and Mills & Reeve for sponsoring the Summer Drinks reception in the evening. Neither would have been possible without their support.

If you attended the Conference and have not yet left us your feedback, please do, here.

Throughout June, of course, we enjoyed/endured (delete as you think appropriate) the General Election campaign in the UK. AREF’s Head of Policy, Jacqui Bungay, prepared a series of policy briefing papers for the new Government. These are high level insights for incoming ministers, indicative of the issues we would like to discuss with them. These three Investment Insights, titled Investing in Homes, Investing in Places to Live and Work, and Investing in Sustainable Buildings, have already been shared with relevant government departments.

Undoubtedly, the collective voice of the industry will be vitally important in the coming months and years and AREF looks forward to collaborating with the new Government and with other associations to attract the investment required for residential funds to build additional housing required in the UK, additional capital into the wider UK real estate, and on reducing carbon emissions in relation to buildings, enhancing biodiversity, and adding social value.

Our work continues, as we head into the summer holiday season. I would like to take this opportunity though, to wish everyone a very good summer, whether holidaying or not. The AREF team will be moving offices, and from 1st August, our new abode will be 3 Waterhouse Sq, Greater London, England, EC1N 2SW, more on that in our next newsletter. Until then, don’t forget the suncream!



Paul Richards

Paul Richards


Paul is the CEO of AREF.  Before joining AREF in 2020, 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.