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Rich List: What Makes Ultra High Net Worth Clients Tick

19 Mar 2024
RedBook’s chairman, Lord Andrew Hay, and founder, Sandy Mitchell, share some insider perspectives on current trends they have spotted in the world of UHNWIs. Here is a distilled summary of their insights.

Homes, everywhere – The way lives are lived has changed. The very wealthy are more mobile than ever before. Instead of one or two bases and some holiday homes, there is an appetite to own a portfolio of six or even more properties around the world. They might be smaller in scale than before, but they all function as homes from which they can both live and work.

Time is everything – The drive to have projects finished quicker and at a higher quality than ever before is insatiable. That is putting pressure on all of us to find new ways of delivering what clients want.

Appetite for projects UHNWIs can fulfil their every desire, so if they are not finding the home they want on the market, they seek to make it themselves and take on a property project




The vast majority (75%) of RedBook clients have undertaken projects in the past. They have felt the pain of a project, but they know what they want is achievable, and that is why they come to us for help.

Like many others considering taking on a project in the current climate, however, these clients feel some nervousness. Budget creep, deadline drift and the increase in costs of labour and materials are off-putting. In the mainstream market, and from what you will read in the press, costs have increased around 20% in the last 3 years, but in the prime and super prime market, costs of material and labour have gone up 30% and 20% respectively. And on the subject of labour costs, a quick look at the 700+ projects we are currently monitoring for the RedBook Luxury Property Index tells a tale: 95% face labour costs over and above what was initially projected.

These clients are typically not perturbed by UK domestic politics, but they are frustrated by the planning system in the UK, how tough and complicated it is and how navigating it presents a real barrier. Again, figures from the Index reveal that 50% of live projects are experiencing unexpected delays because of sclerosis in the system for processing planning applications.

Esoteric dreams The bounds of possibility when it comes to some of the extraordinary (and, in some cases, slightly eccentric) elements that people want in their homes are only growing. And we enjoy working with our Partners to meet these demands. Recent requirements have included a client who wanted a museum-like room to display his massive collection of designer footwear. Another wanted their outdoor lighting system to move ambiently from morning to evening and mimic the circadian rhythm. Someone else wanted door furniture throughout the home to mirror the motif of a special Ferrari. In the meantime, pool complexes (in London and the country) are moving towards wellness areas with ice plunge pools and saunas accompanying exquisite swimming pools.


Interior design evolution – When RedBook started, it was easy enough to categorise most clients into one of three stylistic boxes: classic contemporary, traditional, and what we call ‘international luxe’. Now, we see far more eclectic demands, such as a client looking for ‘JapaNordic’ design (a fusion of Nordic and Japanese design). Design at the luxury hotels clients visit obviously has a big influence on tastes, as does social media. What we refer internally to as the “IDQ”–the ‘interior-design intelligence quotient’–of our clients has evolved dramatically in recent years and, with it, the demand for more sophisticated projects.

The future – As the twin focuses of education and security become ever more significant concerns for UHNW clients, we predict the rise of new wealthy enclaves created for the rich by the rich. Financed by very wealthy global families, we don’t picture these as single developments but as communities established in countries where visas are easy to access, and sanctions are unlikely to impact. These will be locations where UHNWIs can build without paralysing planning restraints, which plug into everything that’s on offer in a six-star hotel, and which provide top-notch security and education as well. If we are right, it promises to be a fascinating evolution.

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