Business News Wales welcomes Ad Hoc’s area Manager for South Wales and the South West, Simon Wright. He gives us an insight into the business and talks about Wales’ strength as business platform and owning the vacant property solutions market in Wales.
Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within your organisation?
My name is Simon Wright, and I am a proud Welshman who grew up in the Valleys (Aberdare). I moved to Bristol in 1996 to go to University where I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering. After graduating in 1999, I remained in Bristol where I spent 15 years working in the consumer finance industry. I made the switch to Property Management with Ad Hoc in 2015, where I now lead the South Wales & South West Office. I still live in Bristol and am a keen sportsman playing football every week; I am also an FA level two football coach for Shirehampton Colts Junior Football Club.
What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
Having grown the South West Office to become the largest office outside of London, the challenge is to deliver the same success for our Welsh office in 2017 and beyond. My aim is to make Ad Hoc a household name in Wales and the number one provider of Vacant Property Protection solutions. The challenges I face are to understand the different issues facing Wales and the variations in legislation compared with the South West.
Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
I don’t believe in looking back, only forward. I can’t change the things that are behind me but just learn from them. I know that sounds cheesy but I have very few regrets. I enjoy my job and the challenges it brings. I work very hard but I am fortunate to have a close network of family and friends.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
Obviously, it’s very important to understand your marketplace, but for me the most important values are openness and honesty, ensuring there are clear expectations for all parties and then delivering on those promises. We are nothing without our clients or guardians and providing a great service for both is paramount to our success.
What are your top three tips for success?
As per the previous question really; build a strong rapport with your clients, have clear open and honest dialogue and ensure the expectations on both sides are set out. As important as anything is be yourself and people will respect you.
Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?
The property occupation model, as provided by organisations like Ad Hoc Property Management, should be adopted as part of a wider housing mix. Delivered in the correct way, the property occupation model provides people with a short-term housing solution at approximately 60% of the market rate in comparison with alternatives like renting. Using a very strict set of guidelines called a license agreement between the individual and the property guardian company, this solution is perfect for individuals either looking to set up on their own whilst saving for something significant or who are working in an area for a short period of time.
Do you foresee any issues that Welsh business will be facing in the short/medium/long term?
The property market across Wales has seen just as dramatic an increase in value and shortage as the rest of the UK. Asking prices for homes have hit an all-time record high of £317,281 while the average rent paid reached its own record high of £816 per month. With these prices soaring at the staggering rate that they are, it’s hard to believe we will ever see them slow down and leaves an obvious question to be answered: where are people going to live in the future? Businesses are going to need to keep this all in mind, as this will affect people’s wage and general living requirements. In the coming years, I expect businesses will need to constantly review what they provide staff, because if it isn’t enough, they may well find staff looking elsewhere.
Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?
It is extremely difficult to predict what impact Brexit will have on the empty property sector due to a combination of the amount of time until it actually happens and the multitude of decisions that will be made on all manner of subjects between now and then. Therefore, I would rather concentrate on the here and now, making sure that we provide the Welsh public with the variety of housing solutions they need to cost-effectively live their lives in today’s increasingly expensive world.
What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?
Wales has seen significant investments made over the last decade within areas including infrastructure, technology and cyber security, especially in hubs like Cardiff and Swansea. This has resulted in Wales increasing its ability to attract businesses in a variety of sectors across its border. In addition, small businesses are observing significantly more growth, resulting in an increasingly optimistic outlook for the future of Wales.
The knock-on effect of this is that house prices are rising as more and more people look for accommodation, especially across southern Wales. This has resulted in a requirement for a wider set of solutions, such as Ad Hoc’s property occupation model, which aims to help individuals find a cost-effective alternative to the usual housing options.
What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
With the help of the Welsh and UK Governments, Wales is currently observing a significant boost in exports. This is particularly positive news in the light of current uncertainty around Brexit, which is clouding the future of exports. As we all understand, investment from countries across the globe will assist in Wales ability to invest in its own infrastructure, adding to its attractiveness overall to bring in businesses in diverse walks of life.
What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
Skills in technology are becoming increasingly important in business. Technology is an area that is expanding at an exponential rate, so being educated on how it is changing the world and the importance it holds is crucial. Additionally, providing the younger generation with opportunities for first-hand experience in a business setting is a highly important step in bringing in new expertise to the company to secure future growth. After all, tomorrow’s leaders are today’s school and university students.
How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?
Students are essential to businesses. They are the ones who are learning their way into the real world where they will one day start new businesses or run existing companies. Building and maintaining good relationships with them now will only lead to greater success for both sides in the future, so the importance is critical.