Maxing out on your MIPIM connections

by on for EGi

MIPIM: Everyone knows that MIPIM used to be a jolly. Dozens of delegates staggered from party to party, morning till night and MIPIM was an endurance sport rather than a networking event. No longer. Since the downturn, MIPIM has returned to its roots as one of the major global property networking events, and given the vast expense of attending, that has to be a good thing. No more a reward for good service, MIPIM is now full of people who actually capable of doing business, writes Nicky Richmond, managing partner at law firm Brecher.

And variety is the key to MIPIM and making a success of it – there is more than one way to do it, and how you choose to make it work for you will, to some extent, depend on your personality type, not to mention your stamina. But in order to maximise your opportunities, some effort does need to be made and it is worth doing a little homework before you go, rather than just hoping to bump into useful contacts along the Croisette. Which, of course, will happen anyway.

If you register, you will be given access to the enormous MIPIM database, which, if used properly, is a goldmine. But it takes a great deal of patience to navigate the site, not to mention a little bit of computer-savvy, neither distributed generally in great supply in the property industry. If you have a pass, you might as well use it properly. Go into the Exhibition Hall. Talk to people on stands. The London stand is always good value– make sure you know when the talks/parties are taking place – rumour has it that Boris is speaking again. And there are some really interesting talks at the exhibition; I’m really interested to find out Who Owns the UK and What Does it Mean? That’s the title of an Estates Gazette-sponsored event, being held in the main conference centre. And what about the UK Cities presentation, focusing on regeneration, chaired by the gloriously-named Sir A Bore? I’m sure it won’t be.

On the funding side, the event is chock-full of different types of lender. The diversity of lenders in the market is reflected in this list. According to the MIPIM database, there are in astonishing 1,523 investors registered, broken down into banks, private equity/hedge funds, HNWI/family offices/private investors, insurance companies, investment companies, investor/developers, open–ended funds pension/sovereign wealth funds and REITs. Sadly, there is no quick and easy alternative to trawling the painfully slow website, working out who is worth meeting, looking for names you know, and making contact with them. At this stage, contact will often mean a meeting post-MIPIM. Which is no bad thing.

For the niche lenders, MIPIM has always been a great hunting ground. But what was very noticeable post-2007 was the dearth of clearing banks at MIPIM. Gone are the massive parties given by Lloyds and the like. For years now, no clearing banker has wanted their face to be splashed over the front of the Daily Fail, glass of champagne in hand, on a developer’s yacht. Understandable.

But whether or not you’re going to see the lesser-spotted UK clearing banker isn’t actually clear from the MIPIM website. As far as I can see, Barclays and Santander only have two official delegates, and HSBC only one. And an increasing number of niche lenders and private bankers are going to be at MIPIM. I expect you will be bumping into bankers from Close Brothers, Titlestone and Commercial Acceptances, to mention but a few. Most of them have been there throughout the downturn. As has Coutts, whose party with Harvey Soning’s James Andrew International is a MIPIM institution. It also serves the best food.

But word has it that the clearing banks are really wanting to lend now, and MIPIM is a very good place for them to start pushing out that message. The tap seems to have been switched on, albeit in limited areas and (if my experience last week at a property and finance dinner is anything to go by), you will be bombarded by bankers, falling over themselves to demonstrate their keenness to lend. I suspect that those same bankers will be cautiously crawling out of the MIPIM undergrowth and showing their faces to the light. Get in there before everyone else does.

And best tip of the lot? Download the CamCard app onto your smartphone device. It reads business cards instantly and downloads them straight into your Outlook address book. You’re welcome.