Exclusive 1:1 with Jeremy Helsby

Saville, Study, Bay Area, Saville Studley, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Jeremy Helsby

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[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n May 1st of last year, London-based Savills announced that it was merging with Studley, a New York-based firm, one with strong roots in the Bay Area market, as well. Studley’s differentiation among brokerage firms is that its focus is entirely on representing the interests of tenants, and as such acting as a strong voice for things that matter to the end users of commercial real estate.

The new firm in the US will now be called Savills Studley, and it will provide a platform for the global consultancy to scale its services not only across the Bay Area, but globally, as well.

Jeremy Helsby, the group chief executive of Savills who is based in London who has been with the firm for 35 years, visited Silicon Valley recently and took account of the group’s presence here. We caught up with him upon his return to the UK and found out that he liked the Bay Area, after all!

Why is it important for a company like Savills, who has a presence across the globe in all real estate sectors, to be in the United States?

By merging with Studley, Savills has acquired a strong platform in the U.S. from which we can continue to grow our business. Savills Studley is uniquely positioned to develop new business from around the world, while continuing to deliver exceptional service to existing clients. With the addition of strategic locations, many of them hubs for the expanding technology sector, including the recent acquisition and expansion in Silicon Valley, we are now positioned to provide exceptional services to clients in the world’s key locations, leveraging a truly global platform. The US is a key priority and investment focus for Savills, and we are delighted with the progress to date.

With so many players in the US and competition being so tight, how will you compete, and what differentiation will you be offering your clients?

First and foremost, Savills Studley remains committed to the tenant representation business model and will continue to work alongside tenants, conflict-free, as trusted advisors. In addition to advising tenants on transactions, we are providing clients with a host of occupier services that reflect how critical the workplace has become in attracting and retaining talent. We are engaged with our clients across the full lifecycle of their real estate needs, offering strategic consulting, lease administration and account and project management.

Within our capital markets business, our differentiator is our strong Asian business from which we can access Asian investors who are active across the US and on the West Coast; this is crucial for those clients wishing to sell assets and maximize returns. In addition, Savills Studley gives us further penetration into US investors who are currently the second largest investor group in London and a leading group of buyers in Europe.

Studley was entirely focused on tenant representation, yet the larger, global organization that you lead has many more services that it offers. Will that change the way Savills Studley operates in the US? If so, how?

Savills Studley will continue to have the same business model and focus on tenant representation. The combination of two well-known, highly respected firms provides a broader foundation for future success. We have expanded our capital markets business, which has proven to have reciprocal benefits for our tenant clients.

Are there certain regions in the US where you will focus your attention more in the beginning? Why?

The entire Bay Area saw explosive growth in 2014, driven primarily by the tech sector, and demand continues to rise. The market is fast-paced and dynamic in that it is home to many start-up companies looking to grow both nationally and internationally, and is also a core market for global firms looking to begin or expand their footprint in the US. Our global platform is imperative to providing these companies integrated, strategic real estate solutions around the world.

Our strategy moving forward will be to further build upon our existing Savills Studley US business to create the best—not the biggest—real estate firm.

During your recent visit to the Bay Area, what surprised you the most about the industry here?

The impact of the technology industry in Silicon Valley and San Francisco is so dynamic and dramatic that it influences every Bay Area business sector from accounting and law firms to venture capital companies. The region’s innovation explosion has created a heightened level of intensity and energy and being successful here requires being focused, driven, entrepreneurial, creative and nimble.

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