Savills IM’s Jeffrey: Leadership changes in the works for ‘quite some time’

As deputy CEO and global CIO Kiran Patel prepares to retire, the London-based manager is dividing his duties into two different roles.

Recent leadership changes at Savills Investment Management are a “natural step” in succession planning at the London-based real estate manager, said the firm’s chief executive Alex Jeffrey.

Earlier this month, the firm announced that Kiran Patel would retire from the role of deputy chief executive and global chief investment officer from April next year. His responsibilities will be split between two different roles: the newly created role of managing director – equity investments UK and Europe, and a new global chief investment officer.

The former position has already been filled by Kevin Aitchison, who will join Savills IM at the end of 2023 from rival London-based manager Knight Frank Investment Management to develop the firm’s European equity investment business. For the latter CIO position, the hiring process is ongoing. Both roles will report to Jeffrey as CEO.

“It’s something we’ve been moving towards for quite some time,” Jeffrey told PERE. “We’re separating the management and leadership of the European business from the investment decision making.”

He says it made sense to split Patel’s role into two given the firm has grown significantly since Patel’s appointment in 2012. Savills IM currently manages €24 billion in assets, the majority of that in Europe.

“Kiran has worn a number of hats. As well as being CIO he has effectively been head of the European direct equity investment business and also deputy CEO. It’s quite difficult for one senior role to encompass all of that. We felt it was important to have a particular focus in one role in leading our investment decision-making process.”

In his new role, Aitchison will bring together Savills IM’s investment capabilities across Europe and lead the firm’s 13 offices in the region. “Kevin’s focus will be to bring all of those teams together and strengthen the way they work together in the most effective, coordinated way as a single team,” added Jeffrey.

Savills IM’s Jeffrey: will continue to oversee activities in Asia-Pacific as CEO

Jeffrey will continue to oversee the firm’s activities in Asia-Pacific from his base in Singapore. In APAC, Savills IM is primarily active in Japan and Australia, but the firm is looking to expand into other parts of the region including Southeast Asia.

After retiring from his 35-year career in real estate, Patel will continue with Savills IM in an advisory capacity for the foreseeable future.

“Kiran has done a wonderful job for our business for nearly 12 years,” said Jeffrey. “He joined when it was in its infancy, with less than €3 billion assets under management, and he’s been one of the key drivers of the development of the business, bringing in new capital, investing in new markets and sectors including leading our expansion into Asia-Pacific, and all of that has been built on very strong investment performance, which, as CIO, he has overseen.”

‘Tough market for capital raising’

Aitchison’s appointment is not the only senior hire the firm has made this month. Two days prior to the news of Patel’s retirement, Savills IM announced Apwinder Foster would move across from her role as head of product strategy at DRC Savills Investment Management, the debt arm of the investment business, to fulfill the new position of global head of strategy and client capital.

Foster will oversee capital raising on both the equity and debt sides of the business, in addition to all other client-facing activities, such as joint venture partnerships, investor reporting and investor relations, as well as product strategy and delivery. She will work closely with the real estate investment teams on the ground, and with the new CIO.

Jeffrey explained there were effectively three people fulfilling this function at Savills IM prior to Foster’s promotion. Giuseppe Oriani, who led capital formation in Europe, including the UK, as co-head of client capital, will stay with the business as deputy chair and play a “strategic ambassadorial role for European clients at a senior level.” Michael Flynn will continue to perform the same co-head, client capital role in Asia, and Andrew Allen will remain as head of product strategy and development. Flynn and Allen now report to Foster, and Oriani continues to report to Jeffrey.

“It’s a tough market for capital raising, no doubt, so you have to make sure you stand out and explain to clients what different attributes you’re offering,” said Jeffrey of Foster’s position. “Apwinder has been a leading member of the management team of the [DRC Savills IM] business, and she has impressed us all. She has a great track record of product strategy and product delivery as well as building trusting client relationships across the industry.”

Savills IM acquired full ownership of real estate debt manager DRC Capital in 2021. It is managed by co-founder Dale Lattanzio.

Jeffrey was appointed CEO of Savills IM in late 2019, having previously served as head of M&G Investments.