Round table at Strelka Institute

"Environment is important to employees, not offices"

On 24 September 2013, a round table took place at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design devoted to the target audience of the International Financial Centre in Rublyovo-Archangelskoe and user expectations.

We have earlier posted the list of the round table participants and some photos of the event.

Today we would like to give you more details of the discussion. The questions raised included the IFC vision, differences in expectations of various target groups, residents' needs and population mobility.

The discussion was moderated by Alexey Muratov, Chief Editor of Project Russia magazine, and Nata Chamayeva, producer at Strelka. Their experience in moderating round tables resulted in an exciting discussion, and each participant expressed a variety of ideas and thoughts.

Vera Leonova, Project Director at KB Strelka, pointed out that it is very important to integrate the new development project into the surrounding context, creating links with the existing residential communities, Krasnogorsk and such centres of gravity as Arkhangelskoye Estate, which is popular with Russians and tourists alike and is located in close proximity to the site.

According to Elena Mandryko, Chief Development Officer of Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye CJSC, the IFC will host about 30,000 residents and create 100,000 jobs. The project is targeted at the representatives of the middle class and does not risk to become a golden ghetto. It is supposed to attract more foreigners than the existing business districts of Moscow, such as Moscow City, Paveletskaya area, etc. The future population of the IFC is likely to include many finance people and their families.

Dmitry Derelyak, Management Selection Director at Ward Howell, believes that representatives of the financial industry do not differ much from other white collars. At the same time, investment bankers are different in that their priority is challenge and drive rather than the working environment. As for foreign employees, they can generally be divided into two age groups: under and above 35 years old. The former are usually single and come to Russia for new challenges, money and a good risk/reward ratio. The later would usually move with their family and therefore, they value quality housing, safety, leisure opportunities, good ecology and education for their children. Unsatisfied family requirements may often result in the decision not to relocate.

Konstantin Romanov, Partner at Knight Frank and Head of Strategic Consulting, thinks that headhunting expats is often a hard and time-consuming exercise. Russian top-managers are becoming more and more competitive while their package requirements are considerably lower.

According to Vasily Fiveyiski, acting Head of HR at Moscow Government, civil servants are also a target group to be considered. They do not generally like to commute and will prefer to live and work in the same place.

Oleg Alexeev, Vice-president and Chief Managing Director at Skolkovo, expects that the IFC residents will be very competitive and business-oriented, and it is important to think about their social exchanges and public facilities.

Yana Kuzina, Head of Valuation at S.A.Ricci, emphasised the importance of a well-balanced marketing concept and the need to better understand the target audience of the IFC. She agreed that for an expat community, working conditions and an attractive living environment will be extremely important.

Ilya Shuravin, S.A.Ricci Partner, noted that the target audience of the IFC is likely to include top and middle management of financial companies as well as employees of insurance, service and state organisations.

Vladimir Chernavsky, Partner at McKinsey&Company, Moscow, mentioned the importance of polycentric development and the risk of IFC becoming an office district only. He suggested to consider companies, not individuals, as the IFC target audience that needs to be analysed and approached. Which companies would be interested in relocating to the IFC? Which synergies can emerge from various companies residing in one place? State organisations represent a good example of how being located in one place helps to save time and energy.

Maxim Perov, Head of the Regional Research Center at NIiPI Genplan Moscow, on the contrary, sees the IFC as a mainly office district with 90,000 people commuting and only 10,000 living their permanently. Employers of ancor tenants are likely to be among permanent residents of the IFC.

Dmitry Khalin, Managing Partner at IntermarkSavills, one of the leading Moscow real estate agencies, noted that high-income office employees often prefer not to live near their work. If the IFC has good transport connectivity with other parts of the city, many people will choose to commute rather than relocate, and the ratio of one resident per three commuters seems reasonable to suggest.

Pavel Kerpelev, Head of the Real Estate at Sberbank Russia, recommended to consider representatives of governmental financial institutions, such as Central Bank of Russia and tax agencies, as a separate target group. The focus should not only be on expats, investment bankers and businessmen.

At the end of the discussion Alexey Novikov, Head of Thomson Reuters, Moscow, reminded that there was initially little interest in Canary Warf in London, and companies did not want to relocate from their offices in the City. It is only now, ten years later, that Canary Wharf has become a popular business district that can meet various needs of its tenants. It is a comfortable environment, not just the offices, that makes a difference for the employees.