UK: MIPIM Day 5 - Back With A Vengeance

Last Updated: 19 March 2014
Article by Jon Lovell

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

There's no doubt, I have just enjoyed my most successful MIPIM to date.

Now the whirlwind week is over, I'm spending the day on the train home dealing with as much of the follow-up as I can, whilst also catching up with the shed-load of stuff in my inbox which I've not been able to keep on top of during the week. So much for kicking back and relaxing after a monster few days pounding La Croisette!


In my last blog post, I promised to give you some final thoughts on what I've seen, done and heard. So, here are my 'Big Six' reflections on a week of mixed emotions:

  1. The buzz is back. In truth, MIPIM has been rather flat in the last few years. Not a bit of it this year; the mood was undeniably positive, which, in the main, is great to see. It means there can be genuine excitement about a number of really impressive schemes and partnerships coming forward. Of course, the more upbeat MIPIM is, the more hedonism there is on show too. For someone who believes passionately in social justice, that causes a tension for me which is difficult to reconcile. If you read the first of my entries this week, you'll know what I mean.
  2. Focus pays. It can be really easy to get blown off course at MIPIM. The sheer scale of the thing and the never-ending stream of activity (in whatever form that might be, if you catch my drift) can be a huge distraction. This year, I was more disciplined and prepared than in any of my previous trips here, and it really paid off with some excellent outcomes from a range of existing and new clients. My advice to any MIPIM virgins of the future would be to remember what you're there for. Stay focused, but keep enough flexibility in your schedule to allow some unexpected avenues to be explored. Crikey, I'm starting to sound like my Dad!
  3. A way to go on equality. There's been a lot of talk and press coverage in recent months on the persistent equality deficit within business. The real estate industry is surely one of the biggest culprits. Nowhere is the issue more obvious than at MIPIM where packing out parties and events with hired totty for white men in suits to letch over is a common feature. That said, it seemed to me this week that such practice might well be in decline. Certainly, fewer of the stands in the exhibition hall ('the bunker' as it is known colloquially) or the pavilions were employing that sort of tactic (except maybe the Russian and Latvian exhibitors who were largely true to form). So, maybe we are on the right track. But then you see and hear things that make it clear just how far we still have to go. My darkest moment this week – by a massive margin - was sharing a train carriage on the journey from Paris to Cannes with a bunch of guys from the real estate banking sector. It seems that their mission, which they achieved with aplomb, was to get as smashed as possible on the journey. As the volume of their banter increased, so too did the bigotry and vitriol which spewed from them. It was enraging and depressing in equal measure.
  4. A new behemoth in town. China, the dormant giant, is rubbing the sleepy dust from its eyes and awakening. We're going to see more and more emphasis on the capital market impacts of the Chinese, and virtually everyone with a proper big ticket project is out to impress them.
  5. Green is the new black (again). More people were talking about "green" than has been the case for quite a while. For those on the development side, delivering sustainable product is seen increasingly as an absolute necessity – a must-have credential for securing planning permission and landing the right quality of tenant. For those on the investment and asset management side, appreciation of environmental performance as an investment performance risk and a value creation opportunity is certainly gathering pace. I was struck by the number of clients who actively sought me out this week to take soundings on how sustainability needs to be embedded into their business and investment models. If MIPIM is a genuine barometer of the market, which in many ways I think it is, then the forecast looks much brighter for the green building sector than it has done for some time.
  6. A top team. I made reference to this yesterday, but it's worth re-emphasising. I work with some great people and I'm really lucky to do so. The strength in depth that we had on display was obvious to anyone that saw it, and this drew many positive comments from clients. We worked as a team - "As One" as the corporate lingo goes. It was awesome to be a part of. The challenge for us now, when the daily treadmill kicks back in when we all return home, will be to keep that alive. It's a constant challenge for any business of scale (any firm that tells you they've totally cracked this is lying).

So here you have it. The good, the bad, and the unbelievably ugly of my week at MIPIM. Hope you've enjoyed having a glimpse of it. Now, back to the real world....

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