However, there is always a case of sun and cocktails going to people’s heads and we will need to see how the enthusiasm pans out as the new financial year works through.
What is certain is that the new age MIPIM is a different animal to that of the giddy bull market of years ago and, perhaps, more similar to the old style conference. In 2005-2008 the Caffe Roma spilled out onto the road with brokers and agents who had been sent out on a ‘work jolly’ – the evening’s antics more of a focus than the day’s meetings. The environment in 2010 was far more constructive with the real decision makers in the majority and therefore having more productive meetings. This meant that even more of the upper echelon of the real estate market was attracted to MIPIM 2011 and serious meetings were taking place.
Whilst optimistic about the future and a consistent belief that the worst is well behind us, there was a strong vein of realism and calm compared to 2010. There was a feeling of acceptance that an uplift in market conditions will be gradual and a positive sentiment needed to be tapered with caution.
There were whispers of some deals being conjured but you certainly got the feeling it was all in a background of caution and reality. There was little “swagger” and shouts of deals being “hammered out” but more “encouraging conversations”, “cautious optimism” and longer term views. The talk of equity being raised and coffers fuelled to acquire property investments and developments was quite commonplace; the consistent frustration amongst our investor and developer clients, though, was that it continues to be very difficult to find realistically priced opportunities. Values remain high and this is obstructing a freer moving transactional market.
The effect on recruitment is that we are experiencing a similarly gradual increase in requirements and high calibre candidates registering with Cobalt. What was encouraging, compared to MIPIM 2010, was that those spoken to were more certain of how and when their business and recruitment plans might pan out. They have now genuinely decided as to their short and long term strategy with realistic time schedules being committed to.
Indeed, since returning to the day job, the more pragmatic recruitment plans spoken about have been committed to by clients. We have also seen opportunistic hires taking place as clients recognise key skill sets within the market that will be in increasing demand as the recovery continues across the Continent. There have been few false promises and, this year, it seems the conversations had on the Cote d’Azur, have translated into real recruitment opportunities across Europe – a far more encouraging aftermath!
By Ben Ingram