Colliers International

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Graham Johnston

00:00:00 Graham Johnston, Colliers CRE Auction Department. I work in the West End of London. Colliers CRE are a real estate company, predominantly chartered surveyors working in all sectors of the property industry. I’ve got a narrow specialisation in auctioning property. Essentially taking any sort of property through to the auction day itself, marketing the catalogue and actually culminating in that last day, that auction day itself.

00:00:30 This forthcoming auction we have a former cemetery lodge. We’ve formerly sold disused WCs, public lavatories. All sorts of things up to multi-million pound investments. So, the full spectrum of things really.

00:00:46 I played a lot of sport at school: hockey, skiing were the two main ones. There were ski competitions at school so you sometimes got dragged out the classroom to go up skiing for a day. It was in Scotland, so yeah, the mountains are a little bit closer up there.

00:01:03 The dream career never really came into it. It was…it wasn’t really much of a thought. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So when I was about 14, 15, 16, I did work experience in Edinburgh over the summer holidays with stockbrokers, solicitors and a surveying firm up there. I think the social side of the surveying firm really attracted me to the job. It was also getting out as I’ve said, meeting the clients and viewing the properties which seemed like a good option as opposed to reading through legal documentation every day of the week.

00:01:39 The degree course I chose was Land Economy at Aberdeen which is specific for coming out as a surveyor essentially. It’s a RICS-approved course so, the RICS being the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. It was an extremely enjoyable time. Lots of socialising, good amounts of sports again, and it was a case of just “get on with things”, really. It was just, it was a very good time.

00:02:05 I secured a job here probably in around about April time prior to leaving university and just conditional upon securing a degree. Securing a job prior to leaving university was definitely like a security blanket if you like. It was just you knew that you could get through the exams and you’d have a confidence about it, in that you knew that you were going to have a job in September, so there was no fuss or hassle for remainder of the summer. It was, you’d done your work almost, you just had to finish off the remainder of the course and get through it.

00:02:40 The APC—Assessment of Professional Competence—is a two-year training programme and then you sit a further exam at the end of that. I kind of missed my date really. I missed the deadline and my experience over the two-year term probably wasn’t sufficiently good to be actually proceeding towards the exam so the company very kindly deferred me off.

00:03:04 It was a bit of a knock. The exam is a difficult beast really. It focused my mind really and it was essentially a thought at the back of my head of, you’ve got to approach each and every subject matter for work, on a more professional basis so that you can actually proceed through to achieving this goal of passing the exam.

00:03:24 The major turning point for myself is probably joining the Auction Department. Prior to that, I was perhaps wondering whether surveying was really for me, but after that it’s been excellent, and it’s just been a new lease of life, if you like. It’s a lot more client-driven my job now than it was previously. So it’s definitely the step ahead for me.

00:03:48 My inspiration probably, unfortunately, is the boss. Being that he is the auctioneer. He’s quite amusing. He’s one of the best auctioneers out there. He’s quite an amusing character at the best of times. A larger than life character as well. Hopefully the next step for me is indeed actually getting up onto the rostrum, using the gavel and actually selling some of the catalogue that we’re offering at that time. So, yeah. Essentially just moving it forward and becoming an auctioneer I suppose.


Graham J is an Auctioneer at Colliers International (formerly Colliers CRE). He did some work experience with a surveying firm when he was a teenager. “I think the social side of the surveying firm really attracted me to the job. It was also getting out… meeting the clients and viewing the properties which seemed like a good option as opposed to reading through legal documentation every day of the week.”

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average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

82%  male 
18%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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? Brokers deal in commodities, stocks, shares and foreign exchange on behalf of clients or on own account, broker insurance and reinsurance, and buy and sell shipping and freight space.
There are no formal academic requirements although many employers require entrants to possess a degree or equivalent qualification. Training is typically undertaken in-house, although entrants may attend courses run by professional institutions. Registration with a regulatory authority may be required in some positions.
  • Advises client on the suitability of particular insurance schemes and places insurance on behalf of client;
  • Discusses buying and or selling requirements of client and gives advice accordingly;
  • Analyses information concerning market trends for commodities, financial assets and foreign exchange and advises client and employer on the suitability of a particular investment;
  • Records and transmits buy and sell orders for stocks, shares and bonds and calculates transaction costs;
  • Provides independent advice on the suitability of insurance schemes and places insurance on behalf of client;
  • Arranges for the production of auction catalogues, fixes reserve prices, attends auction and bids on behalf of client, or negotiates purchase/sale by private treaty of goods not sold at auction;
  • Obtains cargo space, fixes freight charges and signs and issues bills of loading;
  • Collects freight charges from client and undertakes all necessary formalities concerning customs and the loading/unloading of cargo.
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