Q&A: João Hilário Business Development Manager at EQTY Capital
What are the perks of being a business developer in Portugal these days, given the Portugal brand's strength?
As a business developer, it is always an advantage to be in a position where you have something of value to offer. It definitely makes things more interesting, and it increases the potential for business. That aspect has been a huge positive for me at EQTY. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of people looking for Portugal based solutions. The profile and origin of our clients has also been significantly different from what might have been expected, in that we are seeing an increasing amount of interest from the US, Britain, Canada, South Africa, India and Brazilians of course, who tend to have very strong cultural ties to Portugal. It is encouraging to see that Portugal is now firmly on the map for investors. I like to say that we discovered half the world around 500 years ago, and it seems as though half the world has discovered us in the last five or ten. As a Portuguese business developer this represents a new and inspiring opportunity. It is a great position to be in. You are not just selling a solution; you are promoting your country. You end up being more than a business developer, you are an ambassador.
Why do you think you are witnessing a major uptake from the US and UK?
I think there are two main reasons for the uptake from the US. Without wanting to get into politics, there is a large portion of the US population that is open to and looking for options that offer them a healthy lifestyle, security and stability, and Portugal is clearly very high up on the list of countries they are considering. We have also noticed that many of the more financially sophisticated US individuals are looking at Portugal as a way of diversifying their investments, with the bonus of accessing, particularly for British Citizens, programs like the Non-Habitual Resident and the Golden Visa or residence-by-investment.
Our UK based clients are mainly looking at investing in Portugal as way of ensuring they continue to have access to the EU without any of the difficulties presented by Brexit. Additionally, there are those who are simply looking at Portugal as part of their retirement plan.
The programmes introduced by the Portuguese government have been hugely successful with foreign nationals, who have clearly understood the benefits, so I think there is a natural trade-off, with an investment in Portugal, which might not have been their first choice, becoming much more attractive, given the possibility of permanent residence, citizenship, and fiscal benefits. This has all played to our advantage, in that Portugal is attracting the right kind of people. Take me for example. I work for EQTY, which is owned by six foreign nationals who came here looking for opportunities and quality of life, but also to start-up businesses and employ Portuguese people. My hope is that the inflow of foreign entrepreneurs will continue to help put an end to the forced immigration the younger generation of Portuguese nationals have been subjected to due to the lack of opportunity.
American investors have understood the quality of the infrastructure and the highly qualified talent pool that Portugal presents. This together with affordability and an innovation- focused government has made Portugal a topic of discussion throughout the US.
We have a very interesting tech start-up industry in Portugal, and we are often referred to as the Silicon Valley of Europe. As a result of the number of foreign retirees moving to Portugal, we are also referred to as the Florida of Europe. It seems we’ve managed to fit both California and Florida into Portugal, which I didn’t think possible.
On your journey with EQTY Capital, have you been pleasantly surprised in terms of the uptake? I understand the firm is doing quite well.
From my perspective, it has been extremely positive so far. I was working for a foreign owned fund management company, but as soon as I had an opportunity to meet the EQTY team and see what their plans were, it was clear that I wanted to be part of the setup. I have been a business developer for almost 30 years now and you learn what to look for and what you feel will give you the best chance of being successful. EQTY has given me all those ingredients, so it was a very easy decision, and we had an incredibly busy and successful 2020, surpassing all the targets we had set for ourselves. The reasons for our results: Our very capable sales channel partners, the attractiveness of our offer and finally, the quality and character of our team at EQTY.
In terms of the EQTY capital value proposition, it is a platform that handpicks the best units from the leading developers in the country. Could you give me the lowdown on who you choose, why you choose them and why people choose EQTY capital?
A lot of foreign investors looking at acquiring property in Portugal are not as familiar with the market as they should be. The model EQTY has developed is a platform of close to ten of the top prime residential property developers in Portugal. We look at their track records and balance sheets to understand how they operate. We know the quality of the work, so we are comfortable with having them on our platform. What we offer our clients is diversification, by cherry picking individual properties from the developers on our platform. We are not focusing on a single developer or looking at acquiring entire development projects. We offer a multi developer approach across a broad geographical scope. Our focus is not only on properties in Lisbon or even greater Lisbon, for that matter but would potentially include Algarve and Porto. Additionally, we diversify the portfolio by acquiring apartments, townhouses, villas and branded serviced apartments. The aim is to offer diversification and risk mitigation by offering something that people will feel comfortable with, knowing that we are selecting the best properties from the best developers in the best locations of Portugal. Investors appreciate this unique ability, the pioneering spirit in setting up such an advantageous platform and the benefit preselection brings. Obviously, investors have the greater peace of mind knowing that the units EQTY identifies are still then reviewed and ultimately decided upon by independent and regulated fund managers ensuring the strictest adherence to regulations and best practice.