Zahir first joined Foot Anstey in 2012 before leaving to work in house as general counsel at a privately-owned investment advisory firm in the West End. He has since returned to the firm, and the South West, bringing his invaluable in-house experience with him to his current role as a Legal Director.
Tell us about your time with the firm
I originally joined the firm as one of the first lawyers in what was, at the time, the newly established Bristol office. I felt the firm had a strong strategy and was clearly going places. After seven years (and a tenfold increase in headcount in the Bristol office), I was offered the opportunity to obtain first-hand client side experience as general counsel at a privately-owned investment advisory firm in the West End. The experience was invaluable. I decided to re-join Foot Anstey in 2019 because I ultimately preferred working with a wide variety of clients at any one time, and because I quite like the financial metrics side of things. The firm also embraces a healthy culture that I'd describe as collegial rather than hierarchical, which I have always appreciated. It's great to be back and feel the familiar sense of enterprise and energy.
What is your role and what sort of projects do you work on?
I advise on a wide range of real estate driven transactions for both investors and financial institutions, with a particular focus on Islamic and ethical investment structuring and product development. This involves advising clients, often from the GCC and Malaysia, on how best to structure their real estate investments depending on their strategic aims, and to then see those through the full investment life cycle.
How do you use your in-house experience?
I was immersed in a broader business environment, with access to key stakeholders who gave me a unique insight into what matters most to them in their roles, and what traits they value in their lawyers. I now draw upon those insights by putting into practice the best of those traits – whether that’s being able to pretty quickly decipher which provisions of a facility letter matter most in the given situation, or having a broader business conversation with a client on how certain geopolitical events impact on real estate yields in the location they're looking to invest in.
What do you enjoy about living and working in the South West?
The quality of life, a lovely place to bring up a family, a good cycling scene, and perhaps best of all – not envying our friends from London who, whilst sitting in our garden, exclaimed "are those birds I hear?"
What does Powering Your Ambition mean to you?
To me, it's about first being empowered as an individual. Enhanced client experience will naturally follow.