Giles Fuchs, chief executive of Office Space in Town, on how he got started in property, his TV and book picks, the historical figure he’d most like to have met and how he would spend a million pounds.
How did you join the property industry?
I first entered the property industry straight after leaving school when I became a residential real estate agent – it was a dream I had wanted to pursue since Year 11. Property has always been a passion for my whole family. My mother founded the serviced office industry in the UK with her company Offices Telecommunications and Secretarial Services, and my sister Niki ran the family business from 2001. After that, Niki and I went on to found Office Space in Town (OSiT) in 2009.
What does your job entail?
At present, I act as chief executive of OSiT working alongside my sister Niki, who serves as managing director. I am responsible for looking at the trends, issues and opportunities across the wider industry as well as looking ahead for the firm, defining its direction for the future. This includes financial considerations, such as raising equity and debt, and helping to develop and position our offering.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The industry is a wonderfully glamourous. I very much enjoy meeting and learning about the plethora of interesting and successful individuals within it. Visiting the Arts Club to meet with key decision-makers and fellow sector leaders never quite gets old!
And what do you dislike most about it?
There is an unfortunate minority within the industry that can be disreputable. Early on, I learned the importance of keeping my wits about me; and I would encourage any new entrants to the market to remain cautious while retaining the drive to innovate.
What would you change about the property industry?
First and foremost, the valuation of serviced office space is in desperate need of reform. I would like to see a much wider adoption of the ‘Fuchs Formula’. This splits the annual income generated by the flexible workspace centre into two or more tranches, applying market yield to the first tranche up to ERV and then discounting the yields applied to the outstanding income based on its variable nature. Additionally, and while not necessarily grounded in the serviced office space market, I believe there is a real need for downwards as well as upwards rent reviews. Merely having upwards rent reviews, as is the case at present, means that rent in pounds per square foot is stuck even during economic downturns.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Aside from the issue of valuation, which is now improving through my work with RICS, attaining access to finance and understanding how different pots of money sit with investors and bankers took time to truly understand.
What are you most proud of in your career?
More than anything, I am proud of creating a wonderful company with an amazing ethos and culture. OSiT has a brilliant workforce and very robust income stream. As a result, we are well-respected in the property sector. It pays to put people first.
What do you value in people?
Integrity, hands down. This feeds into every facet of an individual’s personal and professional life and is a great barometer when deciding how close you are willing to get to someone.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
The best advice I can give is, once you have chosen your sector, make sure you understand everything about it. From structure and value to financing, it is imperative that you know your niche inside and out. Although this will take time – it took me about five years to understand the London property market – it will pay dividends in the years to come.