60 Second Interview with Ben Habib

24/08/2016

Ben Habib is Group Chief Executive and Chief Investment Officer of First Property Group PLC.

60 Second Interview with Ben Habib

Tell me about First Property Group

First Property Group is a co-investing, opportunistic, commercial property fund manager. Our primary aims are to conserve capital and deliver high rates of return primarily from income. Sustainable high income returns serve to preserve capital.

What is your biggest achievement / proudest moment?

Guiding First Property through the credit crunch without ever making a loss, and paying a growing dividend throughout that period.

What would your superpower be?

Mindreading.

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?

Greece – 490 BC to 300 BC.

If you weren’t in the role you’re in now, what would you be doing?

I very nearly did a PhD in chemistry. If I had gone down that route, I might now be an academic. There are times I muse about what life in a university might have been like. There is a part of me which wishes I had lived such a life for a period.

Ben Habib Chief Executive Of First Property Group PlcWhich event in your career has taught you the most?

Formally, some of the best lessons I learnt were at Lehman Brothers at the outset of my career. It was a superb institution in which to start. Since then, the best lessons I have learnt have been in the three recessions through which I have worked. The 1990/92 recession coincided with my first senior position and has imbued me with a deep sense of risk aversion.

What career advice can you offer?

Work hard; stay up to date with all the new innovations and regulations; do not follow market trends because they are trends; think from first principles; surround yourself with bright, hard-working people and carry them with you in the making of your decisions.

What is the skill you’d most like to have?

Much better IT skills.

Which famous person would you like to have dinner with?

Assuming the question refers to living people, Alan Greenspan – he has a great deal of explaining to do. In my view if any one man is responsible for the boom which led to the credit crunch of 2008, he is.

And finally…what keeps you awake at night?

Someone ripping off First Property Group.