Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the Road-4Q09

How about a little game? The first person that can identify the photo on the left get's a prize. So, where in the world was this picture taken?

Is life full of coincidences or as some say 'there are no coincidences.' Anyway, when I opened up Google today I saw a graphic of my buddy Gandhi and read that a new four-volume 'tell-all' biography on him was being released today, the 140th anniversary of his birth. Needless to say it will reveal that even The Mahatma was not perfect, either. The coincidence, as it were, is that I'm about two-thirds through Gandhi's autobiography in which one finds out that Gandhi was a lawyer first (who knew?). That combined with Mont Blanc issuing a special limited edition Gandhi commemorative fountain pen for the Gandhi-like price of $25,000 makes it feel like it's Gandhi-time (no offense to M.C. Hammer). But, then again, one never knows, if Gandhi himself were around today, if he would slip into the market yourself syndrome and be doing infomercials at 3am. Of course, that's a ridiculous notion but it seems like everywhere you turn today celebrities, former elected officials, shining and fading sports stars of today and yesteryear, former news anchors, basically everyone who is or was anyone or almost anyone are hocking something from legal services to zit cream to,well, you name it. Maybe I'm jealous-no one has ever offered to pay me to promote anything but then again I'm not that easy.

I was involved in a very interesting workshop session this week (which I'll have more to say about next week). The panel consisted of senior people from K&Y, KPMG and Deloitte as well as a global real estate fund CIO and the head of the industry's leading authority on invcstment sales data, capital trends and troubled assets. The topic? What else? The working title of the session: "Is that your final answer?" The one take-away I can share with you is that establishing fair value is not an exact science, period. And, given the dearth of transactions and the convoluted way that some of them are getting done coupled with the discounted prices today vs. the property's peak value which was probably in 2007 (same as my house), well, it makes it that much more difficult and complex to place a value on a property. It's not something we didn't know already but the discussion revealed that while there are a lot of similarities in the accounting/audit world, there are just as many variable and different viewpoints one can take.

I got a last minute invitation to moderate a panel at next Wednesday's PERE Real Estate CFO Forum in New York. My panel is called "The CFO's and Compliance Officer's Role in Fundraising". It's a subject near and dear to my heart as well as in my role I am not only a FINRA licensed person but also am dealing with all the compliance issues that those in our sector need to deal with. And, given how things have evolved and companies have behaved, compliance, transparency, communication, reporting are more and more important than ever before. It seems like a very timely conference and subject matter.

Pen store: Arthur Brown & Bro., Inc. 2 West 45th Street, NY (Since 1924). I have always loved fountain/cartridge pens although I am not in the same league with my good friend Ed LaGrassa who uses them, collects them and rescues them. This morning a cute little cartridge pen I use wouldn't work. It looked like the cartridge had ink but I stopped in Art Brown for help. (A) It was really dirty (I never knew that you clean pens with an ultrasonic machine); (B) The cartridge was dry (duh!). So, they cleaned my pen (gratis) and I bought some cartridges. But I found out that they are having their annual pen fair on Wed, Thur and Friday (Oct 28, 29 & 30) which, if you're into pens or diaries and other kinds of that stuff you might want to check out. But just visiting the store and seeing the pens they have on display is like going to a museum. One of the owners told me that their suppliers have told them that 'your store is the finest pen shop in America."

On the road....
Oct. 7: New York for the PERE CFO Forum (I'll be moderating a panel on the CFO and Compliance Officer's role in Fundraising).
Oct. 10-15: Casual drive from NY to CA.
Oct. 27-29: Beverly Hills, CA for the PREA Conference
Nov. 13-15: Ormond Beach, FL to visit my Dad (92)
Nov. 17 & 18: Frankfurt for the INREV Investor Platform/Committee Meeting
Nov. 19: London for IMN's Opportunity Fund Conference (I'll be moderating a panel on Project and Entity-Level Workouts).
Dec. 12: London for the Reuters Real Estate Annual Conference (where I'll be moderating something-TBD)

These are my personal views and not that of my employer.

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