PwC launches Real Assets practice, led by Simon Hampton

08 July 2020 3 min. read
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PwC has announced the formation of a new Real Assets practice to combine the expertise and cross-sector insight of close to 1,000 real estate and infrastructure professionals. The team will assist clients with the major, long-term shifts and cultural changes shaping the built environment, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The term ‘real assets’ refers to the built environment and infrastructure that surrounds and enables people to participate in society; it provides communications, energy, transport and places in which to live and work. The term also reflects the developing relationship between real estate and infrastructure, with many of the world’s leading capital providers aligning their teams to focus on the opportunity offered by the continuously evolving nature of work and home life.

While consumer demand has fuelled the rapid extension of real assets from traditional infrastructure into fibre internet, data centres and energy storage, few trends will likely have caused the level of upheaval in the built environment that is about to be seen in the wake of Covid-19. The pandemic has infected more than 11 million people globally, causing over half-a-million deaths since the start of 2020 – giving rise to speculation how people will need to live and work in the years after coronavirus, and what the need to prevent a similar future outbreak mean for demands on infrastructure.

Simon Hampton, Partner, PwC

Along with these new demands, Covid-19 has also accelerated a number of major trends which were already placing strain on the built environment – exacerbating the pressure put on operators in the sector. From a reduced need for business travel and a surge in flexible working, to the dominance of online shopping and an increased focus on sustainability and net zero targets, built environment organisations will need to ramp up their efforts to address all these trends even quicker than before.

To help clients with this, Big Four audit and advisory firm PwC has announced the formation of a new real assets practice to combine the expertise and cross-sector insight of close to 1,000 real estate and infrastructure professionals. The multidisciplinary team – fielding the expertise of financiers, technologists, asset management experts, engineers and capital programme specialists – is led by PwC Partner Simon Hampton.

Hampton commented, “This year has been a game changer for society and for our economy… The real assets team has been created in response to the unprecedented challenges of a growing, connected society shaping our physical environment. The changes that have been surfacing in the real estate and infrastructure sectors for decades can no longer be ignored.  The Covid-19 pandemic has made it all the more urgent for everyone involved, from planners, developers, operators and investors – and government – to adapt and grow.”

The launch coincides with an expected announcement from the UK Government on plans to accelerate infrastructure projects. This saw PwC’s new real assets wing also urge the Government to invest large sums in building to cope with the economic downturn which will follow coronavirus. A statement from the firm claimed that the house-building industry, for example, is facing “an unprecedented downturn” without significant investment.

PwC analysis of industry data suggests it would require an investment of up to £38 billion to deliver close to 300,000 new social and affordable homes by 2025. According to the firm, this is something which could bridge any potential housing volume decline in the medium term, protecting 226,000 jobs and providing “a £47 billion boost to the economy.”