Individuality and authenticity are the watchwords for anyone advising UNHWIs on property solutions, says Colin Kingsmill of Lifestyle Capital Partners.
Individuality is the number-one concern for today’s UHNWIs. Afterall, a similar wallet size does not create shared values and needs. Instead, real-estate solutions for UHNWIs must be unique, comprehensive and laser-precise.
Any real estate catering to UHNWIs will only succeed if it considers all their needs in layered complexities. The clinchers are its unique provenance, bespoke or handcrafted materials, custom finishes that speak to the individual’s or family’s values, top-quality fixtures and appliances, and interiors that complement their art, way of life and prized home comforts.
Truly unique home features we’ve seen requested are, for example, a state-of-the-art CIPOD home cinema wallpapered with the successful athlete-owner’s sports jersey colours, an outdoor fire pit in a tropical Thai holiday villa simply because the Dutch owner loves to see an outdoor fire (even if he’s sweating in front of it), and a colour therapy spa room.
Our top tech client purchased a stunning private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean and spent a fortune building the local government a digital mast at a nearby island for his high-speed internet use (and that of the surrounding community who had been waiting for this infrastructure from their national government for years) so that he could have ultra-fast connectivity whilst in a remote setting of white sand beach and pristine sea.
Here in the UK, it’s not uncommon to hear of sales of multi-million-pound homes that were tastefully furnished by award-winning ‘starchitects’ and modernised to the highest specifications, only to be gutted as soon as the sale is closed to allow the new owner to completely kit the brand-new home to their exacting requirements and tastes.
UHNWIs don’t want to be overtly sold or marketed to. In offering real-estate solutions, the approach must be based on informing truthfully versus marketing speak, and starting a conversation versus selling a commodity. Even ‘storytelling’ has been a buzzword for over a decade now. The ‘stories’ that resonate these days must be salient, compelling and authentic, not artificial or dreamed up in a creative agency.
Prime examples include Costa Navarino in Greece, Whistler Mountain in Canada and Aspen Snowmass in the USA, all of which were established on a foundation of authentic local narratives. As each development grew, the key themes were woven consistently into every facet of each home, including architecture, art and F&B facilities to create a truly authentic feel to the concepts.
From a human perspective though, real estate advisors’ relationships with their UHNWIs must also be real. Everything goes back to that authenticity and, therefore, trust. UHNWIs are surrounding themselves with protective layers against an invasion of their privacy. Discretion as to their real estate choices and holdings are therefore a baseline necessity for their advisers.
This is an audience that likes to be ‘in the know’ before anyone else. UHNWIs tell each other what to buy, where to travel and which events to attend. They base their decisions on recommendations from their peers, friends and trusted advisors. They congregate in thinly sliced tribes to find purpose and live on their own terms.
All these values and expectations by UHNWIs means that they are very difficult to engage with and even more challenging to keep alongside for an extended period of time unless they feel heard, are presented individualised solutions and are honestly advised.
As professional advisors, we need to navigate their individual, limitless world in a manner that speaks to them authentically about who we are, why we’re offering our services, and what our motives are for engaging with them. We must be prepared, if requested, to engage not just with the end client but their equally trusted advisors and to work alongside such advisors – be they financial, legal, household, security or other real-estate professionals.
That being said, real-estate solutions must not just be aesthetically pleasing but also be investment savvy – in ideal legal jurisdictions, designed by architects and interior designers of choice, sustainable, convenient and secure, and financially structured to be as tax-effective as possible.
In the spirit of wisdom, we can also help UHNWIs recognise that neither money nor a remarkable real-estate portfolio can buy the most important things: time, love, health and trust. Authenticity means that UHNWIs welcome and highly prize those intentions and real-estate solutions that enable them to reconnect to their fundamental values and stay true to the basics of what makes them human. Ultimately, doesn’t everyone want to be treated like an individual?
Lifestyle Capital Partners (LCP) is a private office advising highly successful purpose-driven entrepreneurs, their businesses and their families in the ultra-luxury lifestyle sectors focusing on destination real estate, hospitality, travel and well-being.
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