WE MEET…Philip Hillman, Chairman, JLL UK Alternatives


Philip Hillman, Chairman of the JLL UK Alternatives team has been a prominent figure at the global company for more than 31 years. He has led the Student Housing and Higher Education Team for 25 years and has been involved in the majority of major student housing transactions for the past decade. His work involves advising on student accommodation projects for a wide range of universities, developers, operators, lenders and investors.  

Philip will be chairing a session on European student markets at our upcoming Student Housing 2017 conference, where he will discuss the next big opportunity areas in the evolving continental market, how investors should approach different markets and where they are putting their money.

Which factors are currently encouraging investment in the UK markets and popularity in Europe?

 “Student housing is a leading alternative asset investment class in the UK. We’ve seen a substantial increase in investment in alternatives. Last year, student housing accounted for 29% of all commercial investments in the UK.

“Investors are attracted by demographic changes, rather than boom and bust economic cycles. Parents are willing to sacrifice a lot to send their children to university. This is why investment tends to keep on going.

“The sector has had good rental growth over several decades in the sector. Demand continues to outstrip supply, where there is a shortage of purpose-built student housing. Growth in higher education has been dramatic, but housing has not kept pace.

“The UK is a leading market, alongside America. It’s an attractive international location where private sector investors can focus on housing stock for international students, which have different needs.

“UK students, for example, are happy to share, whereas international students coming over here for the first time like the idea of having a place where everything is organised. International students, a large majority of which are mature, prefer studio type living, which can demand higher rent prices.”

How important is networking in the property industry and have you forged business partnerships as a result of a property conference?

“Networking in the property industry is an ongoing process with existing and new entrants. As a business, we’re leading advisors that have overseen the majority of deals in the sector over the decades so businesses tend to come to us.

“It’s an exciting time to be in alternative assets. There is always new entrants and new investors coming into the market. It’s great to meet some of the new people coming in and wanting to invest. Networking events provide numerous opportunities, which have followed me around the world. As an example, I met a couple of investors who were discussing the opportunities of student housing in East Africa in London. Later, at a conference in Nairobi in Kenya, we met again and became advisors to their business.

“I would say that LD Events' Student Housing conference is the premiere student housing conference in London this year as many other conference providers are now moving to Birmingham.”

What is your agenda at Student Housing 2017? Are there any specific market insights that you are keen to discuss outside your own session?

 “I’m interested in discussing how those involved in the sector are looking beyond student living, to micro living and senior living. The same people who are involved in the student housing market tend to get involved with these other sectors as part of an alternative assets portfolio. My agenda is more to do with the international scene, to meet international guests and to see what they’re doing.

“As for the UK market in general, a lot of development and innovation is happening here in the UK. I’d like to get insights on what others think about the higher education market here, as I know that there are worries about the numbers of international students post-Brexit. In my opinion, there will be an impact but not as much as what others are saying.”

Join Philip and hundreds of national and international delegates at London’s premiere event for the student housing sector. Click here for more information and to book your place.