Few feel the pulse of global wealth like David Forbes, who possesses perhaps the most enviable contacts book in world property (having more than 600 offices with 30,000 people in 60-plus countries at your fingertips can’t hurt).
His sales days may be behind him – but that didn’t stop him generating £1.8 billion in opportunities for Savills in 2017. The head of its Private Office, Forbes acts as a single point of contact to UHNWs in their quest for ‘exceptional’ real estate – be it an island off the coast of Africa or a polo estate in Argentina.
‘You have to be a complete chameleon, doing what I do,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘You have to be as comfortable dealing with an old duchess in Tuscany or someone from the music industry in St Tropez or someone from the film business in Los Angeles and New York. You have to tune in to people. One size doesn’t fit all.’
Forbes served with the Gurkhas, ran diving tours in Indonesia and led treks in the Himalayas before he sold Chesterfields (which he co-founded) to Savills in 2007. Business is discreet and focused on exceptional service supported by a database that protects the identities of high-profile clients. Even most of his team don’t know their identities: ‘They have guaranteed discretion.’