31 Jul 2020

Dear All

It seems traditional for those in new positions to conduct a review after their first hundred days.  It has now been over 200 days since I joined AREF but, since half of that has been taken up with the lockdown, this still feels like an appropriate time to look back and take stock. 

We have achieved many important things during what has been the most extraordinary and challenging time that most of us have experienced in our careers: 

  • We have become the “go to” for UK real estate investment for the FCA, the Bank of England and the Treasury, through the strong relationships that the Investment Association has with those bodies.
  • Through other members of the Property Industry Alliance, notably the BPF, Revo and CREFC, we are starting to build relationships with MHCLG and BEIS.  Unlike HMT, these two departments look at property through a community and tenant lens and will be important during the coming recovery and regeneration phase. 
  • During the imposition of the material uncertainty clause we have become a valuable channel of communication between the UK property fund industry, RICS, the FCA and the valuers. 
  • AREF’s Liquidity Working Group, under the leadership of Guy Glover and alongside colleagues from the Investment Association’s Funds team, has jointly lobbied the FCA on a possible new dealing model for daily-traded property funds.  This has involved liaison not just with the FCA itself, but with platforms, depositaries and transfer agents. 
  • We have instituted a popular weekly member drop-in.  Although recent attendance has not been as high as at the beginning of the crisis, it has proved valuable to members so we have kept it going and have no plans to stop while it is in demand.
  • We have run several webinar series on a number of vital topics during the crisis which have been well-attended and well-received. 
  • FutureGen has inspired the Investment Association to set up a similar Committee, the IA Next Generation Committee. 
  • We have a new Chair, Adrian Benedict of Fidelity, and a new Board Member, Anne Breen of Aberdeen Standard.  Both are hugely experienced senior industry figures and I very much look forward to working with them and the rest of the Board on AREF’s next phase. 

To dos for the rest of the year:

  • To develop a good working relationship with MHCLG , which will become more important during the recovery and regeneration phase which we are about to enter. 
  • To continue to strongly promote the narrative with HMT and MHCLG that “landlords” are largely pension funds and charities and that weakening of property income security will ultimately weaken charities and the pensions and savings system, and will reduce the attractiveness of UK property to overseas investors. 
  • To review the way that the Board, Management Committee and Committees work together in order to enhance creativity, communication and efficiency. 
  • To work with the Board, the Management Committee and the Committees over the next few weeks to define our priorities for this year, next year and the long term. 

I would like to thank Deborah Lloyd for Chairing AREF for the last 3.5 years and helping AREF to turn a corner.  Deborah played a crucial role in defining and cementing our relationship with the Investment Association, a relationship which has been essential to some of the successes mentioned above.  Again, I am also grateful for the hard work of the AREF team and the support and guidance of members.

I know that many of us are taking time off during August, including me, perhaps the first “proper” time off we have had since the crisis started.  If you are, I wish you a refreshing break and I look forward to working with you when you and I are back.

Best wishes.



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.