About Bellytanker

Ex global architectural practitioner, now Academic and Lecturer in UK University

United Kingdom


[edit] The Big Idea

Investing financially in a product requires a certain amount of emotional investment too. One must have faith that it is the right thing to do, that it is going somewhere. One needs to know what the product is and how it is working.

Investing financially in a country requires a similar emotional investment in that country too. Unfortunately when it comes to investing in the UK the product is unclear because the current and future vision of the UK is unclear. I believe if the property industry took a leadership role in helping define what that the UK is, now and into the future, then it will help create the faith that eventually leads to investment.

[edit] Current vision of the UK

As an Australian living in the UK I am amazed by the number of times I am asked why did I come here instead of remain in sunny Australia. It seems the current vision of the locals are that the UK is a poor place to live compared to the other parts of the world in terms of amenity, quality and the weather. What is more is the undercurrent of the idea that it is not getting better but getting worse. It is this lack of faith in the product internationally that I believe is a major issue the industry needs to particularly address.

For example, what attracted me to come here is the amazing history that is here and stories to tell from knights to castles, to great writers and stars of science, and the stage, of great innovation and noble deeds such as the NHS, and simply the idea that it is right to "do the right thing". It is a country with a continuing heritage of advanced generous culture that few nations could ever come close to and this seems to be taken for granted as a marketing tool for investment. As the world changes and faces unforeseen futures everywhere, the place I'd rather be is where the culture has seen it through many a tough time, rather than the quick money capitals.

[edit] Current and future position of the UK

Firstly let's not beat around the bush, the sun has set on the English Empire. This direct influence has been in steady decline for the past century but what astounds me is that there is yet any vision to replace what this actually means for the UK and where is it heading. Is it actually such a bad thing or should it be regarded as a great and noble thing to have allowed the release of its global communities to self rule and be a vision of pride instead of evidence of decay?

"Is the UK part of Europe or not?" is another question which provides unease in thoughts of many about investing emotionally in the country as which country are they actually investing in? What are the rules? Whose rules are they?

Many of these questions will not be answered soon but they will be answered over time. A long lasting definition of the UK shouldn't be affected by these temporal issues but rather be a long term vision of its society and its values; a solid platform defined so some kind of expectation for the future can be established to lead to confidence in the product's longevity. This is something that the government doesn't seem willing to express clearly or honestly due to its requirements of getting into and hanging onto power.

The property industry can stand up and help define what the UK stands for, and create this within a global community that will soon face resource scarcity, climate uncertainty and shifting global hegemony to China. By articulating a clear vision of the position that the UK can play in this new world will give people reason to invest emotionally instead of simply financially. Not only will this help establish a position of authority for the industry, the product it sells will become a better known entity through better definition. The industry needs to articulate a manifesto that says "This is what the UK stands for" and an investment in the UK is an investment in these values and the future.

As the world changes with different groups with different values and requirements threatening UK trade and investment, the nation's investors and lenders will need to reassess what and why it invests in what it does, and simply good return financially will not be enough reason to do so on its own politically or culturally. To invest morally or ethically into the future will require an understanding of exactly what people are investing in and that needs to be articulated for that to happen. Currently there is a void in this articulation that is an opportunity for an entity to step into and become the authority.

[edit] What is and how to change the mood

Wherever I go there is a preoccupation about the Second World War. It is in the re-enactments at the historic manor houses, it is on the TV in countless documentaries, it is in the conversations in the steeet. I think this is because as dismal as it was, it was when the UK last really shone as a nation to be really proud of where everyone pulled together for a common good and made a difference that changed the world.

This is the pride of self that the UK needs to draw upon not as a past commodity but as one that can bring them into the 21st century as a player against and ever more hostile globe. Rather than looking back to history, the community is looking for leaders to help point the way forward to a future that everyone can contribute to to make better just like Churchill with all his foibles did. Investment is about making a better future and a way to that future needs to be defined, and it is a great opportunity especially given the dearth of others picking up the mantle.

[edit] Can the property industry be a leader in this regard?

I think people can inspire people from anywhere through the way they operate. It isn't just the world of the Arts that can comment on cultural identity and although architecture is one of the greatest definers of nations identities it is driven by a market process delivered through the property industry. In any profession there are good leaders and bad leaders and it is a matter of developing certain traits that can be the difference. The major trait is arguably "Visionary". If the Property Industry can be visionary in its approach to redefining the UK in its relation to the world now and into the future then investment will surely follow.