By Neil Young, written March 2020 – before Covid-19 Lockdown
So, after eight years involved with Get Living (2011-2019), five as Chief Executive, it was time to leave. It’s been quite a journey.
When I spoke with Delancey back in 2011 about the ‘project’, they (along with their JV partner, Qatari Diar) were on a shortlist of three to buy the Athletes Village. At the time I was running Young Group, a company I founded, that was at the forefront of promoting what was to become the Build to Rent (BtR) sector. Young Group were consulting to multiple institutions with large scale residential asset management ambitions. We also ran PRSUpdate – an online blog and regular publication for the nascent sector.
Back then, we’d speak at conferences about putting the resident first, “If you get that right the financials will follow”. Not many really believed it. So, over a decade later it is pleasing to see the sector established and growing.
There are so many that have helped it to this position. Not only the pioneering investors, but bodies such at the British Property Federation, UKAA and Central Government. We were all learning along the way. As often happens when you are a pioneer you have to innovate – something I love doing. When the next phase of growth happens, new entrants look at decisions from the past and wonder why they were taken. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, without the pioneers and the early supporters, the incredible changes that are happening in the residential market would not have taken place. It is important further innovation is not stifled.
Innovation was at the heart of the sector in the early years. At Get Living we were the first to offer three-year Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) as standard, we never charged fees, would allow residents to decorate their homes, allowed pets and in 2017 scrapped security deposits. We helped change perceptions of renting a home, I am proud to have led these initiatives.
Innovation is what I do. Delivering places, service and experiences. We are in a world where hands on management of assets, brands and ideas are central to creating experiences. Working with great teams is fun. This is all part of what I will be doing going forward through Young.
Over the last year or so I’ve been thinking about what is next for me. Central to it has to be the right work:life balance, with fun an important part. We should not look at our time divided between work and everything else. Not liking your work is not a good place to be. We need to be able to mix up our time more. We need to enjoy what we do. This has always been important to me.
So, what have I been doing since leaving Get Living? Well, for the first few months, quite a lot of travel, cycling, snooker, table tennis and socialising . . . and of course thinking. It’s been great. I have met lots of people for drinks and lunches, it’s been really enjoyable. I feel fortunate to know so many enterprising people and to share fantastic discussions with them, which helps ideas develop.
Looking ahead, I set myself a number of goals. I’ve signed up to do the L’etape (cycling a stage of the Tour De France) and taken on a snooker coach with a thought to playing competitively!
I’ve also been busy setting up Young Group mark II, called Young with my long-standing friend and colleague David Mackenzie. It’s really exciting. Young will be founded on the key values of clarity & care and conviction & courage.
Young will be growing businesses with partners that require investment. We will invest our time and money alongside others. Our focus is on placemade returns through asset backed investment partnerships in places where people live, stay or spend time.
In my career to date I’ve grown businesses where I’ve seen gaps in the market, I want to do more of this. We are already working on two businesses with great partners. More about that on later blogs.
For now, I want to thank all those who have been part of my journey to date. I am looking forward to growing Young and businesses we invest in.
We have a lot of knowledge, we want to use it to challenge sectors where people live, stay or spend time.
If you are interested in getting involved, please do contact me.