“Hi Alistair, it’s Lucas Bitencourt. I’ve just stepped off the plane from St Tropez – out there for a couple of weeks for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala, been pretty busy.”
Such is the life of the managing partner of Essence, a Belgravia-based family firm that manages the lifestyles and affairs of 40 billionaires and their families. (NB They are only ever billionaires).
Most likely, you’ve never heard of Essence. Loosely conceived by Lucas’s father, the company evolved following the London 2012 Olympic Games, when it was asked to service the US Olympic Team. From there, Essence grew organically, taking on the heads of large businesses and other high-profile clients, mostly through word of mouth.
I first interview Bitencourt at 5 Hertford Street, a tucked-away private member’s club in Mayfair, during which a disgruntled Robin Birley walks past casting disparaging looks at my dictaphone. Our second meeting takes place on a sofa in an upper antechamber of Mark’s Club, just off Berkeley Square.
Bitencourt is smart, suave, self-assured, not easily identifiable as belonging to one particular nationality (he is in fact Brazilian). When he speaks, you get the impression Bitencourt would be as comfortable around cleaning staff as with world leaders. “Most of my clients are worth £1bn plus, from a cross section of fashion, retail, mining, real estate and various other industries.” “I don’t think that we’ve ever had a request so outrageous that it’s impossible to fulfil. We’ve had some very demanding and imaginative situations, but there’s always a solution. It’s all about your network of contacts and having an understanding of who to call, when to call them and which incentives to offer.”
During both of our meetings, Bitencourt leaves the room to take various phone calls. It’s clear that he never switches off. “I like to be busy and have things to do, and I think that hunger drives our success.”
So the schedule can be daunting. How about the clientele? “At one event in the south of France, I looked around and everyone in the room was twice my age. It felt really gratifying to be in a room with all these magnates, tycoons and people of such great influence.”
Surely, at some point though, Bitencourt has experienced a jolt of panic when he’s realised he’s not going to be able to deliver for a client. He sips his coffee, defiantly. “At my level, you never do.”