NAREIM Executive Officers Meeting
In Miami, Florida on March 16-17, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) held it’s semi-annual Executive Officers (EO) meeting. This one focused on leadership. In attendance were approximately 60 senior executives from investment management and private equity real estate firms. The CEOs that I spoke with told me something that I’ve heard about each the EO meetings – it’s the openness with which peers share challenges, and thoughts on solutions, that makes this meeting special.
Here are some notes I took during the meeting that I offer for your consideration:
- What does it take to be a leader today?
- Lead by example
- Get people to follow them
- Establish and maintain credibility
- Walk the talk
- How they define success
- Don’t answer questions / ask questions
- Leadership has become disappointing: A survey by Inc. magazine showed 65% would rather take a new boss vs. a pay raise
- Only 7% of employees have trust and confidence in their senior leaders
- Did you leave your organization in better shape than you found it?
Commercial real estate is an industry whose foundation is ‘the deal.’ Leading an organization requires a senior manager to dedicate a significant amount of time to managing / developing / inspiring their team vs. making deals. For some, it’s a challenge – as I know from my own career, making a real estate deal is seductive and adds to our accomplishment history. But from the discussions at the NAREIM EO meeting, it’s clear that there is more focus than ever on the importance of being an effective leader – on attracting and retaining top talent and creating a stimulating environment.
Some people say that leaders are born and not made. I’m not sure I agree. In many ways it’s a matter of having a true desire to lead and developing the tools to be a leader. If you are a senior officer at your firm, and you’re not already a NAREIM member, I encourage you to check it out. Getting away from your desk for a few days a year to interact with other industry leaders may be one of the most valuable investments you can make – in your firm and in yourself.
The Pension Real Estate Association Spring Conference took place last week in Washington, DC. A number of the conversations I had were with capital raisers, marketing and investor relations professionals. The energy level at the PREA event was high…we’re riding a wave of prosperity – companies are hiring – compensation is up and everyone seems happy. But, with hundreds of funds in the market, raising capital has never been more challenging. It’s also not easy to invest – as there is so much money chasing the same deals. One of my friends, whose firm has sold 10,000 apartment units, told me, “It’s difficult to turn down a deal at a 5% cap rate.” It continues to amaze me – how the appetite for real estate continues to drive cap rates down to historic lows. While many institutional investors are focused on income – getting a nice check quarterly – there may be surprises when the properties are sold and there hasn’t been any appreciation – no ‘pop’ at the end of the hold period.
I joined the New Members/First time attendee breakfast, as did a few other PREA veterans. There I sat with some mostly younger folks whose companies had recently joined PREA or they were attending their first event. Attending any industry event for the first time can be daunting – I can remember the days when I didn’t know anyone…it’s not easy and it’s one reason that I will approach people standing by themselves during networking breaks or cocktail receptions and strike up a conversation. Some long-standing industry friendships have developed from those simple interactions.
During the event, I learned about the PREA Industry Leader interview series. They run up to 15 minutes, are very well done and offer some great insight from a diverse group of industry leaders. Take a look!
Olga Koroleva, founder and CEO of Monetarex, and I were introduced at the CRE Tech Intersect conference in New York City by Larry Sousa, a long-time industry friend and advisor to Monetarex. Olga recently gave me a demo of their service.
While Monetarex slips into the realm of some other commercial real estate data providers and services, there are some unique aspects that make it worth exploring.
Olga described the steady progress she is making, getting companies to check out Monetarex and then deciding if it’s a tool that can help them. From their promotional material:
- The Monetarex platform comprises a network, investment marketplace, and private firm data.
- Delivers comprehensive business intelligence on over 1,000 private real estate firms, their investment activity, regulatory filings, and key personnel - all in real-time with up to 100 data points per firm.
- Provides tools and analytics for the private CRE market to streamline deal sourcing, due diligence, market research, and communication.
Having been involved with an early entry into commercial real estate technology, I can appreciate the challenges that Olga and other start-up entrepreneurs face today. There are some groups gathering friends and family money and others aggregating funds through crowd-sourcing mechanisms to invest, not just in hard assets, but in technology start-ups.
These are exciting times for our industry, which I’ve always believed has been the slowest to adopt technology. And while this may be commercial real estate’s own ‘tech bubble’ those left standing will have contributed to taking the industry to the next level of recognizing how adopting new technologies can make collecting and managing of data, and other functions, easier and more robust.
Charlie Nolfi recently joined Calare Properties as Director of Marketing and Investor Relations
On the Road...
April 2: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, New York City. Learn more and register here
May 5: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here
May 6 - 7: NAREIM Accounting and IT Meeting, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here
May 14: Annual meeting of The Hoyt Fellows, North Palm Beach, FL
June 15 - 16: IMN US Real Estate Opportunity and Private Fund Investing Forum, New York, NY. Learn more and register here
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