The UK’s 30 Most Influential Property Industry Figures, Agents and Investors

There are dozens of senior sales and letting agents, company CEOs and commentators who could claim to be ‘influencers’ within the property sector, all with respected track records and many of whom we’d all flock to hear at exhibitions and conferences.

Whether you loathe or love them they are undeniably the players within property sales and lettings who shape how other people do business and think, and who are often in the media spotlight.

There is one alarming feature of this list. It reflects the disappointing lack of diversity within the industry at a senior level, which remains with only a few exceptions, largely male and white.

Nevertheless, after DealMakerz canvassed key industry PRs, suppliers and former colleagues, we present what some would consider to be the most prominent 30 figures.

1 Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla

Chesterman stepped down as CEO of ZPG recently after its purchase by US financial giant Silver Lake, increasing his personal fortune to an estimated £100m. He still casts a long shadow over the industry and is admired in City circles for having mustered a credible and profitable rival to Rightmove. In agency circles – particularly at DMGT and several big agency chains including Connells – he remembered as a brilliant dealmaker.

2 Michael Bruce – Group Chief Executive, Purplebricks

Roll your eyes if you like, but Michael and his brother Kenny have completed an extraordinary journey from mid-sized agency turnaround operators to global property industry disruptors steering a company worth nearly a billion pounds at the zenith of its share price.

3 Ian Springett, OTM

Springett’s first attempt at launching a property portal – PrimeLocation – made him and his upmarket estate agency backers small fortunes, but his second attempt – OnTheMarket – is still on its journey to commercial success. Still battling Connells in the courts (via Gascoigne Halman) over its ‘one other portal’ rule, he remains at the heart of digital marketing innovation.

4 Paul Creffield, Group MD, Countrywide

Hardly a week goes past when Countrywide is not in the news as it battles to regain its crown as the largest UK estate agency from Purplebricks and roll back the decline experienced during the Platt years. Central to its plan has been the re-introduction of Creffield into the senior management team along with his belief in traditional, nuts and bolts sales and lettings.

5 Russel Quirk, eMoov

Quirk is the cheeky chappie everyone loves to hate, constantly on radio, TV and in the newspapers despite more recently  eMoov’s future remaining in the balance following its acquisition of Urban and Tepilo (and the perhaps unwise decision to get into bed with Richmond Desmond). But the Essex-born survivor appears to have bought some time for his hybrid agency. Financial white nights may still be galloping to its rescue.

6 Adam Day, Hatched Founder

Adam is one of the pioneers of hybrid and online estate agencies, starting out in 2002 with Hatched and then (after it was bought by Connells) moving to EasyProperty and now working as a proptech gun for hire.

7 Bob Scarff, former Countrywide senior exec

Scarff along with several other senior Countrywide directors including Vince Corley,  Nick Dunning and Julian Irby, helped the behemoth through its glory days. He is currently developing a telephone-based lead generation start-up called Callwell.

8 David Livesey – Chief Executive, Connells

Livesey is a Connells and industry long-standing innovator credited with creating the model of using financial services to bolster the varying fortunes of sales and lettings that is now an industry standard for success. He, along with Group Chief Executive David Plumtree and others, steered the purchase of  online-only agency Hatched, only to later close it down.

9 Iain Wilson – Chief Executive TPFG

Wilson’s 30-year long career has included stints working for Halifax and General Accident during the glory years of frenetic corporate acquisition in the property industry, later moving to Connells and later befriending Richard Martin, the founder of Martin & Co. He now steers its parent group, The Property Franchise Group, as its CEO.

10 Peter Brooks-Johnson, CEO of Rightmove

Brookes-Johnson was appointed CEO of Rightmove last year after joining in 2006 following a distinguished career in consulting in several industries including the oil and gas sector.

11 David Cox – Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark

Affable, knowledgeable and media friendly,  Cox didn’t come to ARLA with a traditional property industry background but instead held several policy and parliamentary positions including five years at the National Landlords Association before arriving at what is now Propertymark. Ideally suited to managing a revolving door of housing ministers, he has – some grumble unsuccessfully – argued against the tenant fees ban.

12 Mark Hayward – Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark

Hayward is the estate agent’s estate agent. Following a career in agency and consultancy, he joined NFOPP in 2011 as president and has been instrumental in remodelling its structure into Propertymark while also helping steer The Property Ombudsman, TDS, Agents Mutual and NHBC (to name a few). He’s also helped shape the sector’s regulation as HMRC, Trading Standards, the UK and Welsh governments and the EU have tightened their grip on the industry.

13 Simon Embley – Non-Exec Chairman of LSL

For 12 years Embley helped shape LSL into one of the UK’s largest estate agency sector’s corporates before stepping aside in 2013. He famously crossed swords with the Daily Mail but was instrumental in selling Your Move to Barclays Private Equity. He reformed LSL from loss-maker into a profitable giant and later helped float the business. He remains its non-executive director and chairman of the board.

14 Nic Budden, Foxtons

Nic Budden joined Foxtons when its brash expansion in London were still in full swing and two years before Jon Hunt sold up to BC Partners in 2007 for £375 million. But then the financial crisis hit, followed later by changes to stamp duty, and now Brexit. Budden has since had the unenviable job of steering the once cocky company through a period of perilous financials and continuing press jeering as branches have closed and profits have collapsed.

15 Henry Pryor, media commentator

King of twitter, a weekly regular in TV and radio studios and oft quoted in the national press, Pryor’s no-nonsense and informed but cutting remarks about almost every nook and cranny of the industry delights journalists and his loyal social media fans. How he finds time to do this and be a high-end property finder and pig farmer baffle some.

16 Phil Spencer, TV presenter

Originally a successful property finder with his firm Garrington, Phil is in the minds of many consumers Mr Property. He is almost constantly on TV starring in new and re-run episodes of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location with Kirstie Allsopp, although he also now runs his own homes data firm MoveIQ and is Zoopla’s brand ambassador.

17 Helen Whiteley, OTM

OnTheMarket CEO Ian Springett may be the public face of the portal’s long road from Agents’ Mutual to PLC, but many agents will know Whiteley better for her tireless work driving up and down the UK persuading larger agents to back a ‘third portal’.

18 Jon Werth, LiFe Residential

Jon started out as a lettings manager in London during the late noughties but soon bagged the job of Managing Director at developer Galliard’s residential arm, which has since become a major London new-build and lettings player LiFe Residential. He has since turned into a passionate proptech supporter, getting involved in Pi Labs as a mentor, and setting up a tech investment arm at LiFe, which was an early backer of Goodlord.

19 Graham Lock, former TPFG MD

Lock’s credentials as the founder of online agency House Network and briefly as managing director of The Property Franchise Group, later becoming a consultant including work with new tech group the Property Innovation Partnership, make him a key player in the rise of tech within the industry.

20 David Smith, Policy Director at the RLA

Anyone who watched solicitor David Smith’s appearance during the recent parliamentary select committee consultation on the tenant fees ban will know his gargantuan knowledge and big brain make him the ideal person to steer the RLA’s policy thrust within the housing sector, championing the better regulation of the lettings industry.

21 Matt Spence, Humberts

A year ago, few people in the industry knew who Matt Spence was until in May this year his holiday company Natural Retreats bought failing estate agency Humberts. Since then he’s led a radical makeover of the venerable brand, including a bold move off the high street and into hubs, the first of which opened recently in Poundbury.

22 Faisal Butt, proptech investor

Without Faisal Butt, arguably proptech would not be the force it is today. His companies, Spire Ventures and Pi Labs, have been instrumental in nurturing many of today’s big-name proptech and fintech players including eMoov, Hubble, AskPorter and Trussle. His success has come in part via his business partnership with TV Dragon’s Den star James Caan.

23 Eddie Hooker at MyDeposits

Without senior insurance industry exec Eddie Hooker arguably leading deposits protection provider mydeposit would not exist, and neither would the robust system of three providers endorsed by the government, such is his energy and enthusiasm. He has also been busy fending off competition from several ‘no deposit’ alternatives. The CEO of one was gracious enough to nominate Eddie for this list.

24 Steve Richmond, LSL

Many of those who Dealmakerz canvassed for this list were keen to endorse Richmond, who is COO of LSL and who, before being appointed in 2016, held a similar role at Countrywide where he worked for eight years, praising him for his ‘superb’ business strategy and operations management skills.

25 Paul Deveney, Lettings Director at Acorn Group

Some say the agency industry in the UK has yet to wake up to the potential of the PRS or ‘build to rent’ sector as investors pour in billions and the government backs it as a silver bullet for the nation’s housing crisis. But not so Acorn which, led by Deveney, has been at the forefront of exploring new models of renting and lettings that build to rent offers.

26 Jon Notley, ZeroDeposit

Notley will be remembered by many agents at a senior level as the man who drove the successful expansion of Zoopla and later ZPG and in particular the hard slog of persuading some 17,000 branches in the UK to sign up for and later pay to list with a ‘second portal’, a model that OTM is now copying. After leaving ZPG in March 2017 he has launched alternative deposits protection service ZeroDeposit.

27 Kate Faulkner, property expert

Faulkner is both a property consultant for consumers and also works with leading agencies including Belvoir, Chesterton and NALS providing both expertise and content. She also regularly appears on TV and radio.

28 Robert Nichols, CEO, Portico

Nichols has led a text-book rebrand of six London estate agents including Bushells into one new identity, Portico, including the pioneering establishment of an Airbnb management business, the first of its kind in the capital.

29 Katie Griffin, former NAEA President and director at Sawdye & Harris

Last year Griffin was only the second woman in the NAEA’s history to hold the position and says it is ‘amazing’ that more women are working in the property industry. But she has said that she wants more young people to join it and help dispel its reputation for being ‘old fashioned’. During her tenure at the top of the NAEA she launched Trailblazers, its attempt to attract more younger joiners with an industry-wide apprentice scheme.

30 Ed Mead – Viewber

Mead’s heyday at his previous job as a senior director at London agency Douglas & Gordon may be behind him but his reputation as a charismatic industry leader remain, and his opinion still holds considerable sway. He has now set up outsourced viewing service Viewber with the backing of former industry pal and Foxtons/Marsh & Parson boss Peter Rollings.

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