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60 seconds with…Simon White


How has business been in 2010?
Remarkable when you consider that we started the firm in March 2009 in the middle of a recession and with the housing market on its knees. Last January my co-founder Ray Clune and I put our fingers in the air and came up with a turnover target that we didn’t think we could get close to. We reached it by August and now have 10 full-time staff.

What do you expect house prices to do in 2011?
Confining my comments to prime central London the answer is steady as we go, with no dramatic price rises or falls on the horizon. That said, around 75% of the applicants we deal with are from overseas so the prime market is vulnerable to currency fluctuations that make the pound stronger. Our focus next year will be to do what we have always done, which is communicate with our lender clients every step of the way. We also have professional indemnity cover of £15m, which helps.

If you weren’t a surveyor what would you be doing?
I’ve always had a hankering to own a second-hand bookshop and live on a barge with a dog.

Do you have any secret talents?
I still play golf off four and as a Boy Scout I was the first in my troop to earn his fire lighting badge.

What’s the proudest moment of your career?
Without doubt the creation of London’s Chartered Surveyors. It’s nice to be my own boss at the age of 52 and for it to be a success. If I had to single out a defining moment it was our first day – we received our first instruction from Fairbairn Private Bank and we all thought thank God for that.

Who is the best person you’ve worked with?
There are two. My first mentor was a surveyor called Barry Bracegirdle. I was in my 20s and he was 65 so I never referred to him as anything other than Mr Bracegirdle. He taught me everything I know about buildings and his enthusiasm turned grey days wandering around mill workers’ cottages in Manchester into mini adventures.

The second is my co-founder and director Ray Clune who knows a thing or two although I would never tell him that.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Welcome to Hell by Colin Martin. It’s a harrowing tale of one man’s eight-year survival in the jail they call The Bangkok Hilton. Read it and you’ll never go Thai again.

Interview by Christine Toner



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