30th Anniversary conference
We’ve only just begun.....
SPR 30th Anniversary Conference brainstorms the future while learning from the past! At the same time as celebrating how far UK property research has come since its birth 30 years ago, this event also confirmed that the profession isn’t resting on its laurels.
Andrew Smith, SPR President and chair of the event held on 7 September at Cass Business School, said he left the conference confident that there would be plenty of challenges to excite the next generation of property researchers over the coming 30 years. The role of the property researcher will still be to “create knowledge” – to ask difficult questions and answer them rigorously, as Matthew Richardson had proposed earlier in the day – but the questions themselves and the tools available for answering them would undoubtedly be different.
The event was not just a chance to tap into the wisdom of many of the most eminent names in UK property research, but also an opportunity for all levels of SPR members to come together and discuss some of the potential future drivers of real estate. Four breakout sessions considered the likely impacts of demography, government policy, climate change and digital innovation, all areas where new trends are emerging. In debates that were inevitably wide ranging one thing was clear: researchers must keep their minds open to change and be ready for the unexpected.
Indeed, earlier in the event Richard Barras had stressed that historically no one would have been able to predict the impact of the Internet, particularly for retail. But he noted that today we can identify a number of key developments for the future, like the effect of automation on employment and the threat posed by escalating private debt.
So how can property researchers make the most of the challenges that lie ahead? Flexibility and adaptability would be key requirements, according to a panel that looked at the profession’s prospects – just because it is so difficult to predict how real estate as whole is going to change in the long run. And while there is bound to be more automation in producing the researcher’s raw material – data – someone will always be needed to analyse its implications and explain them effectively within organisations.
A full report on the conference will be provided to SPR members shortly.