In memory of Marty Anderson

Martin “Marty” Anderson, deputy CIO of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System of Arizona, passed away in December.

Anderson had more than 20 years of experience in investments, real estate, investment banking and business. He had responsibility across the portfolio, focused toward the system’s private market/alternative investment vehicles and was a senior member of the internal investment committee.

He will be missed by many in the real estate investment community.

“Marty was one of my favorite people and investors. He was truly a gentleman and an expert in his field, even a craftsman, who went about his genius quietly, humbly but with great conviction.”
— Eric Mogentale, managing principal, Walton Street Capital

“Our world and this industry has lost another incredibly special person.
Marty was larger than life. While many saw Marty as quiet and reserved, those who got to know him, knew better. Marty was as intelligent as any Ivy League–trained New York financier. Marty was honorable, loyal, strong, humble, insightful, brilliant, funny and worldly. Marty was an overall great guy. I would look forward to having dinner with him and discuss so many topics, including business, politics and the world.
Marty had such incredible insight and conviction. In a political industry, Marty did not concern himself with personal consequences when fighting for what was right and just. Marty did not ever compromise his integrity and the resolve do what is right.
Marty was not just a client to me. He was a dear friend, partner and confidant on everything personal, professional and even geopolitical issues.
Marty’s investment sense was better than anyone I have ever met. He never met a great idea he didn’t pursue for PSPRS. Timing, politics, process or any other obstacles did not stand in the way of pursuing an investment opportunity that would benefit PSPRS.
I admire Marty so much. Despite many health and other work-related political challenges, Marty never lost his way. He maintained strength, composure and resolve to carry on and always do the right thing. The lessons Marty taught me, both personal and professional, will always be with me. I know I am a better person to have gotten to know Martin John Anderson.
Marty, rest in peace. Your legacy will be carried on by so many of us. We will miss you.”
— Ed Schwartz, managing director, ORG Portfolio Management

“Arizona’s public safety personnel lost a great man in Marty Anderson. Our industry knew and respected Marty as a truly talented and principled investor. Marty was a great friend of our firm, Fundamental Advisors. He was engaged with our firm and our activities as much as (if not more than) any of our other investors. In a world where folks spend a lot of time worrying about appearances and norms, Marty’s sole guiding principle it seemed was stewarding his constituents’ capital to the very best of his ability and with an unparalleled level of care. Marty’s dialogue with us was always honest, succinct and in the service of his current and future pensioners. His judgment was always sound. On a personal level, I trusted and respected Marty completely. He always operated at the highest level of integrity. Marty didn’t know any other way. He simply delivered his best effort every single day and thought that was the only way to operate.
I will remember Marty forever: unfiltered but kind, uniquely dedicated to his professional responsibilities. Rest in peace, Marty Anderson.”
— Laurence Gottlieb, chairman and CEO, Fundamental Advisors

“Marty was taken from us too soon and will be greatly missed. He was one of those people whose characteristics continued to reveal themselves to you over time. I recall meeting him for the first time and thinking that he was smart and took his job very seriously. He asked all of the right questions and was very frank about both what he liked about our strategy and where his concerns were. I would attribute that to his Minnesota upbringing, where people are frank, yet polite. As my partners and I got to know him better, we recognized that not only was he smart and serious, but also loved a good laugh and had a wonderful sense of humor.
On behalf of all of us at Greenfield Partners, we have lost a partner and a dear friend. Our condolences to his wife, parents and his entire family.”
— Dean Sotter, COO, Greenfield Partners

Please use the space below to record any additional tributes you might have to Marty.

The views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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IREN in a year

The year 2016 is ending. Let’s take a look back at IREN, IREI’s news service. Overall we have increased our coverage. Last year, the IREN team published 1,008 stories in the IREN publication. This year, we have surpassed 2015’s number. To date, we have published 1,089 IREN stories.

Broken down even further, we have increased coverage in most categories and geographic regions.

  • Commitment stories, which comprise pension fund joint ventures and mandates, increased by 3 percent and makes up 32 percent of our IREN coverage this year. The commitment beat is IREN’s most popular. At least one commitment story has been in the top three stories per month this year.
  • Fund stories increased by 9 percent this year and make up 27 percent of our IREN coverage.
  • Property transaction stories dropped 9 percent this year and make up 42 percent of our IREN coverage.
  • Asia Pacific-based IREN stories increased by 0.4 percent this year and make up 19.5 percent of our IREN coverage.
  • Europe-based IREN stories increased by 4 percent this year and make up 30 percent of our IREN coverage.
  • Americas-based IREN stories increased by 7 percent this year and make up 81 percent of our IREN coverage.

The top 10 stories of 2016 are:

  1. CalPERS selects two finalists in search for real estate consultant
  2. UBS asset management makes appointment in real estate group
  3. Rockpoint holds $3.3b final close
  4. CalPERS selects real estate investment consultant
  5. Texas Teachers commits a total of $400m to real estate
  6. Townsend Group raises $496m for real estate fund of funds
  7. Partners Group launches new real estate fund
  8. Two municipal pension funds seeks core real estate managers
  9. Dallas Police Fire to exit two real estate funds
  10. Florida commits $350m to real estate

Something to look forward to next year: The IREN team will be increasing our coverage in the infrastructure sector. Some recent infrastructure headlines include:

  1. Allianz, Hermes consortium invests £3.6b in U.K. gas grid
  2. Biwater wins $1.2b contract to provide Iraqi water infrastructure
  3. European investor to build Texas wind farm
  4. Canadian investor forms C$5b global partnership
  5. Texas Teachers commits $300m to energy fund 
  6. New Jersey pension commits $100m to infrastructure
  7. German investment manager launches parking fund
  8. OCERS commits $260m to infrastructure
  9. AXA IM raises €730m for European infrastructure debt fund
  10. Dakota Power proposes sale of wind power to Xcel Energy
  11. Aquila Capital acquires wind project in Sweden 
  12. Argentina, Qatar form $1.3b infrastructure fund
  13. Allianz holds €350m final close for renewable energy fund
  14. Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority issues $2b infrastructure RFP

Sign up for a trial subscription here. For the most recent IREN issue, click here.

The views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Andrea Waitrovich is editor of IREN and web content editor of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

A tribute to Michael Humphrey

Four weeks ago, I was sitting at a table on the 56th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino, overlooking all of Singapore, having drinks and enjoying a farewell dinner with a small group from our 2016 Asia Pacific Editorial Advisory Board Meeting. Joining us at that table was Michael Humphrey, the founder and CEO of Courtland Partners, who had flown in from Cleveland to attend our event.

Not surprisingly to those who knew him well, Michael’s charisma and energy dominated the evening’s discussions. He was so upbeat, so positive, so full of life, and so excited about the coming year.

So it is strange to hear the news of his sudden and unexpected death only a few weeks later.

Michael was a friend and a long-time supporter of our publications, going back to the very earliest years. He and several of his colleagues have attended editorial board functions on three different continents over the years, covering both real estate and infrastructure investment. Michael was always encouraging, always complimentary, and always contributed immensely to the quality of the discussions.

I think it’s safe to say he was one of those unique individuals who come along rarely in life, who “make a dent in the universe,” to paraphrase Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

There is a lot I personally could say about Michael, but I thought I’d dedicate this space to enable others to help paint a picture of the kind of individual he was, as well as the impact he had on the investment and investment management communities he served so well over the years:

“I was Michael Humphrey’s partner for over a decade, and I never remember him taking a day off. Second to the love for his family, his passion and pride for the business he started in 1995 was limitless. We all use the cliché that someone we know works a 24-hour, seven-day week. That is a cliché that truly no one adheres to — with the exception of Michael Humphrey. His work ethic was extraordinary. His passion for doing the right thing for the clients is his career legacy. It was an honor to be his friend and partner.”
— Steve Novick, principal/COO, Courtland Partners

“‘Trusted Adviser’ is a hard title to earn, and even harder to maintain. Michael Humphrey earned it every day, and was passionate about it. Being the best at everything he touched for his family, clients, staff and friends was the only way he knew. Losing or backing down wasn’t an option.
Working side by side with that kind of conviction, wisdom and moxie is contagious.
He is already greatly missed.”
— Gila Cohen, head of corporate strategy, Courtland Partners

“I think the qualities I admired most in Michael were his integrity and his work ethic. I don’t think anyone in the business took his responsibility as a fiduciary more seriously than Michael did. He always put his clients’ interests ahead of others, including his own, and he insisted that everyone at Courtland display the same high ethical standards.
Michael’s preparation before every meeting was unparalleled, as was his ability to ask questions that quickly got to the core of the key issue or risk at hand. He set a high bar for anyone desiring to do business with a Courtland client. I pity the manager who didn’t bring their ‘A game’ to a meeting with Michael.
It was Michael’s adherence to these core values — an unwavering commitment to always do the right thing for his clients and a rigorous work ethic — that are perhaps his greatest legacy. Our industry is far better because of him.”
— Fred Gortner, co-founder, Paladin Realty

“We are still at a loss here in Honolulu about Michael’s untimely passing. Michael was an outstanding consultant who went beyond the expected in helping HIERS to find appropriate investment solutions. Michael and Courtland came on the Hawaii account in 2008, and we renewed our contract in 2012. Courtland was HIERS first ‘specialty’ consultant focused on real estate, an asset class that had long been held in the portfolio. However, the real estate program was somewhat neglected and not positioned do withstand the stresses of the Great Financial Crisis that soon befell the global economy.
From that unstable framework, Michael went to work. He restructured the real estate portfolio by balancing it between core, value-add and opportunistic investments. He added new strategies, such as real estate debt and senior housing. He introduced new fund managers to HIERS. He negotiated more favorable terms with our legacy core real estate separate account manager and optimized the allocation.
HIERS now ranks as one of the best performing public pension plans nationally over the past 10 years. I fully credit Michael for that turnaround in fortunes. This was a major and substantial accomplishment. He was already working side-by-side with us to move real estate to a new framework focused on functional risk allocations. It was exciting to get his perspective on the latest portfolio evolution, which was clearly both intellectually and professionally fascinating to Michael.
Beyond what Michael might have been expected to do as a consultant, it was clear that he cared for his clients. Michael embodied the fiduciary spirit at its best. I knew that when he was on a project or negotiating with a manager, he was going to go beyond the function of a consultant and treat our concerns as his own. Michael understood us as if it was his own money he was investing. I knew that the people of Hawaii could trust and depend on him to act in our interest alone to secure the best outcomes. I trusted him.
Michael took on some of the most challenging investments in the HIERS portfolio, and we could tell that he wanted to do well because he cared, professionally and personally, for the people at HIERS. The last time I saw Michael in-person was during an October trip to New York City. He joined me on some meetings with possible strategic relationship partners because I asked, and by the time he showed up, I had added two more meetings to our already busy itinerary. As we rushed through the pouring rain on foot and then by taxi to get to a Chelsea meeting with a ‘sharing economy’ start-up real estate venture, I marveled at how we both were in our element, fully engaged seeking understanding of a new investment opportunity. We were having fun.
Later Michael told a trustee how within 20 minutes of arriving at this particular venue, I had gotten us an audience with the CEO. I wish I would have told Michael that whether it was that CEO, the billionaire Manhattan developer, or the many other talented and successful investors we met together in New York City during that day-and-a-half, it was only because he was at my side that I had the confidence to be so bold.
I would be remiss to not add that trustees and staff at HIERS felt aloha for Michael. We cared for him. Many of us knew him on a personal level, and had time to learn about his family and his work family. We felt a love and aloha for Michael because he was a good person, always trying to do what was best for those around him. His sense of modesty, humility, and humor endeared him to us. In a world governed by contractual terms and obligations, Michael’s professionalism and personality cut through the formality. We wanted him around. We wanted to know what he thought. Whether about deflation expectations in Europe or about how proud he was to see his children as young adults, we wanted him to keep talking and talking. Now, every time we have an in-depth discussion about real estate or macroeconomics, I will pause and wonder what Michael would have thought or done.
We are at a loss. He was trusted, respected and loved. Michael will be missed.”
— Vijoy Chattergy, CIO, State of Hawaii Employees Retirement System

“With Michael, you learned by osmosis. There were no guided tutorials, just the Socratic Method with the real estate consulting grand master. No one ever really graduated, you just got better at refining the product, until no stone was left unturned.
Michael’s dedication to his craft knew no bounds. Time zones, jetlag, food and sleep were mere inconveniences. He would be in India interviewing managers by day and leading client calls in the U.S. at night. During the workday, his approach to food was often quirky; he would often eat late or nothing at all. Once, during Lent, someone bought in White Castle hamburgers and fish sandwiches for breakfast (don’t ask). Michael was busy and worked through lunch, as was customary. That is when I witnessed true dedication. He is the only person I have ever seen microwave an aged, cold White Castle Fish Slider. You know you are focused when the ‘best option’ is to reheat a choice fresh catch of fast food seafood. No bet was involved; he did it willingly.
It was not just dedication, but true passion. As others have mentioned, he truly loved his work. Whether it was wordsmithing a recommendation for a client into the wee hours of the evening or preparing a slide deck on real estate economic trends, he was always engaged, always looking to improve.
Surprisingly, despite all the long hours, endless flights and lack of sleep, Michael rarely missed a day of work or even had a cold. If he wasn’t in the office, we assumed that he was in the air, at a client meeting, or with his family.
While Michael will be missed, especially by his family, hopefully he will finally be able to obtain the rest that always seemed to elude him.”
— Marc Rivitz, senior vice president, timber/Latin American funds, Courtland Partners

“(To the Humphrey Family), please accept our deepest condolences for the loss of your wonderful husband, father, son and our colleague and friend, Michael.
San Joaquin County Employees’ Retirement Association (SJCERA) is one of Courtland Partners’ more recent clients. We have been privileged to work together with Michael and our Courtland team to evolve our real estate program over the past three years. Michael was best known for integrity, integrity, integrity. He provided us with thoughtful discussions on various topics as Michael had a great passion for consulting, modestly sharing his vast knowledge and educating others in real estate.
Michael loved to tell stories about his family and how proud he was of his children and appreciative of Joanne’s support in his career.
All of us at SJCERA celebrate Michael’s accomplishments, the success of Courtland Partners and our friendship over the years.”
— The board and staff of San Joaquin County Employees’ Retirement Association

“Honeywell International was one of Michael’s early clients and valued his knowledge and integrity immensely. It was a true privilege to get to know and work with Michael over the years. The success, growth and reputation of Courtland Partners are a lasting testament to Michael. He spoke often of his wonderful family; they are in our thoughts and prayers.”
— The staff at Honeywell International

“I always liked how when you were on the phone with MJH and a productive call was coming to an end he would say, ‘OK, real good Brad … real good.’ I like to think when he entered Heaven, God said, ‘Real good Michael … real good.’ He was an amazing man, taken from us far too soon.”
— Brad Creel, CAIA, director of real estate investments, Lockheed Martin Investment Management Co.

“I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Michael Humphrey and to everyone at Courtland Partners. It has been my pleasure and privilege to know and work with Michael for these last eight years as a senior consultant for Courtland located here in New York City. Michael was a brilliant and creative professional, as well as a fine human being.
Although I grew up in Cleveland, my working career began in 1965 in New York City when, as Michael, I started as a first-year lawyer. Also, as Michael, I soon moved from law into the business side of life, and I have spent over 35 years in the field of real estate. With this perspective, I can confidently state that what Michael founded and grew at Courtland Partners is one of the more impressive accomplishments I have observed in my career. Without doubt, Courtland now plays a pivotal role in the global real estate industry. Michael has left a powerful, positive legacy to his family, all those at Courtland, and the international business community.”
— Robert “Bo” Rodgers, senior consultant, Courtland Partners

“I have been both lucky and privileged to have worked over 30 years with some of the outstanding commercial real estate leaders and consultants our industry has known. Michael was the most principled and thoughtful real estate executive I worked with. The legal standard of fiduciary care is largely indefinite; in practice, Michael defined it better than anyone.”
— Tom Hester, senior vice president, Courtland Partners

“When my mother-in-law developed dementia five years ago, and she was going to watch my infant son, I told Michael I had to leave Courtland, as I didn’t want to put my son in daycare and needed to be home with him. He told me to come in when I could. So I would come in after my husband got home from work at 4 p.m. It worked out nicely, and I enjoyed talking to him when no one was in the office. As my son is now in preschool, I am in the office three days a week. Michael helped me be the mother I wanted to be for my son and keep my foot in the workplace. He was such a good guy.”
— Julie M. Limpach, executive assistant, Courtland Partners

“I am thankful for my meeting with Michael who gave me another chance, at this stage of my life, to learn a new career. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
— Kirby Freeman, consultant, Courtland Partners

“As someone who worked with Michael for over a decade, it is difficult to narrow down his impact to one anecdote or conversation. Michael was a tireless worker, who possessed more energy than a room full of kindergarteners after an ice cream social. I never once saw a caffeinated drink touch his lips. He wasn’t fueled by caffeine like most of us; rather he was driven by a never-ending passion for his work and our clients. He believed that he was truly blessed to be doing what he loved for a living, which made him one of the lucky ones.
Michael was extremely detail oriented. He never stopped rewording reports, memos or presentations until the teacher told the class to put their pencils down. Yet for such a detail-oriented guy, I often wondered how we would always end up having the same conversation over and over again, like my own version of Groundhog Day. We were not regular traveling companions, but a few times a year we would inevitably end up on the road or in a restaurant together. Michael and I grew up in the same suburb, albeit a generation apart. Michael loved Cleveland and Lakewood, in particular. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Lakewood families and houses. Inevitably our travel conversations would gravitate toward talking about Lakewood. Yet, he would always ask me what street I grew up on or if I knew this family or played sports with someone from that family. I was like the teenager rolling his eyes at the question that already had been answered a hundred times.
However, he would seemingly out of left field ask me a question that demonstrated that he had been paying attention the entire time. He’d ask me about coaching soccer (which he once loved to do), about one of the teachers at St. Raphael’s, or about my alma mater. I’ve now come to realize that his brain was like that giant black briefcase full of reports, presentations, and cap rate data that he hauled around with him at all times. He may not have known exactly where the information was in his bag. But it was in there and he would always come up with the right answer when he needed it most. I will always appreciate and remember that despite everything that he had going on in his life that Michael still ultimately managed to remember even the smallest details of our trivial conversations. One of the greatest Lakewood High Rangers is now riding with God. Michael, rest in peace.”
— Michael Murphy, managing director, Courtland Partners

“Michael and his family have given me some of the best years of my personal and professional life. It has been a privilege to know the Humphreys and work for an organization that has made a real difference in the lives of so many pension plan and foundation beneficiaries. Michael changed who I am for the better as he did for so many who were willing to roll up their sleeves and work side by side with him. He demanded excellence from his staff and set the standards for client service at Courtland Partners high by the example of his own efforts.”
— Charlie Manak, general counsel and chief compliance officer, Courtland Partners

“I first met Michael in 2005, when Bill Foster introduced us. Bill and I worked together at another consulting firm, and the client that Bill liked the most needed additional real estate exposure. Bill thought so highly of the client that he wanted to bring in an expert to cover the real estate portion of their portfolio. Mind you, we did real estate investments at the prior firm, it’s just that Bill wanted to provide the client with the best, and Michael was clearly the best.
That introduction began a six-year conversation in which Michael and I would get together occasionally to discuss capital markets, the consulting industry, personnel development and corporate growth initiatives. Often these meetings would be scheduled to occur late in the afternoon and I would sit by the phone or in the conference for an hour or more waiting for the conversation to begin. Rather than being annoyed by the constant delays, postponements or cancelations, I was intrigued. I could tell that he had a deep passion for his clients as demonstrated by his willingness to put their needs before all else and a hunger to have someone help him provide an even better service to an even wider group of clients.
During that six-year job interview, Michael had asked me to join him in various capacities and at various junctures of the firm’s evolution. In 2011, I joined Michael with the intention of helping to grow the business, expand the offering and alleviate some of the management burden he carried. It was a hell of a ride, and one for which I will always be grateful.
Soon after I joined, Michael and I were in Park City, Utah, at a multi-day client seminar. On the middle day of the seminar, the client scheduled an afternoon break where participants could take in the beautiful and unique offerings that can only be experienced in the lower Rockies — mountain biking, trail hiking or golfing in a valley. We did none of that. We drove to Salt Lake City to meet with the property managers of an office building owned by a long-standing client. We walked the block and toured the building as Michael put the building representatives through an endless interrogation of market comps, rental rates, tenant improvements and HVAC maintenance schedules. The folks from Salt Lake had never been through this type of questioning and weren’t sure what to make of it. What I learned from that session, and countless sessions like it, is that Michael had an insatiable curiosity where he desired to gain knowledge simply for the sake of learning, as well as a sense that he gauged people by their ability to answer questions — that was the law school coming through. He served his clients both by his ability to gain the factual information needed to make prudent decisions and by forming qualitative opinions about the people with whom they do business. He wanted to know that he, and therefore the client, could trust the people.
I also learned from the events of that afternoon that work was the way in which Michael relaxed. There was no golf or mountain biking release needed to help him unwind. He was most comfortable and most at peace when he was actively working for the clients he cared so deeply about.
Along the way, I learned that the passion for clients meant that the way in which I could serve Michael best was to help him serve the clients more. This was the opposite of what I thought he needed when I joined him and very different than what the would-be buyers of the firm were telling him. At first I thought, and all potential buyers thought, that Michael had reached a point in his professional development where he should be more of an industry ambassador and a speaker on the conference circuit. While he did enjoy the speaking engagements, he was guided by the desire to do right for the millions of pension retirees that he was serving. It was an awesome responsibility and one that he never lost sight of.
Michael and I had many personal conversations around the time that we were negotiating the purchase of an investment platform. He brought to that diligence process all the same attention to detail and curiosity about intricate details, but it was far more than that for him. He would tell me over and over the very important reasons that he ‘could not screw this up.’ He carried a responsibility for the well-being and continued care of his family as his utmost responsibility. While some in the firm, or in the industry, were critical of Michael for not taking more aggressive movements to grow or evolve the firm, I know from those conversations that it was not growth, wealth or notoriety that motivated him — he cared most about the three of you. No risk was worth taking if it jeopardized what he wanted for you and no bird in the bush could tempt him if it meant the possible loss of the one in the hand.
When talking with clients about market conditions, he would constantly reference oil prices as a way of referencing Houston as a way of letting the clients and the firm know what Lauren was up to — his pride abundantly obvious to all. At other points, he would remind us of the sacrifices he would make on special occasions (i.e., Mother’s Day, Easter, graduation parties) as a way of letting people know how important it was to produce the best possible product for the client. His willingness to make these sacrifices were to show employees that if the boss is willing to make this effort, then everyone should step up. Those were hard days and I know from our conversations that he deeply regretted time taken away from his family.
Though private to the point of stoicism, Michael would occasionally share when medical procedures had him particularly nervous. The love that he showed for his family at those times impacted us all and we did the only thing we could. We tried to make his work-life as normal as possible so that he could cope with the mental stress of it all. As I learned in Salt Lake that day, Michael needed work to deal with stress. The absence of work was a cause of stress for him and the last thing he wanted at the time of the dialysis, transplant, recovery and relapses was to have one of us take work away from him.
All of us that worked with Michael knew that we were working for the family he cherished and felt a shared responsibility in providing for your care. It was not our burden; it was our privilege.
It is my hope that God will bring peace to his beloved family, and that God has an interesting project for Michael to work on.”
— Jay Morgan, senior adviser, Courtland Partners

“No doubt about Michael’s brilliance and vision. He did not make working at Courtland easy; however, after nine and half years, his challenging and blessing definitely made me better at what I do. I was very fortunate to having been able to participate and share the fruit of his success in building Courtland. His unexpected passing is not only a terrible loss to his family, but also devastating to me personally. I miss the occasions where he touched my life. He gently offered advice for my son’s aspiration to be an entrepreneur. He generously gave me time off when it was needed for my family. He shared his excitement about his children’s achievements and hardship he went though to build the business. Michael will be missed and never be forgotten.”
— Susan Yelin, director of performance measurement, Courtland Partners

“It is sad to know about the unfortunate demise of Mike. Please accept my deep condolences, may his soul rest in peace. I had the good chance to speak to him a couple of times over Skype and meet at Salt Lake City. He was such a sharp mind and a fine person.”
— R.K. Narayan, real estate investment management, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets

“Michael’s passion for knowledge and challenging conventional wisdom pushed us all to think about our businesses beyond our typical boundaries. Investors gravitated toward his intellectual curiosity and his clear desire to put their objectives first. The void he leaves behind is significant to our industry, and he will be missed professionally and personally.”
— Ryan Krauch, principal, Mesa West Capital

If there’s someone out there you care about, and you haven’t let them know lately how you feel about them, now might be a good time to do so. Our days all are numbered, and we never know when the few remaining days allotted to us will be running out. Michael Humphrey made a difference, and one of the ways he made that difference was by being who he was, and letting people know that they mattered.

We can all take a good lesson from his life. Please use the space below to record any additional tributes you might have to Michael.

The views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Geoffrey Dohrmann is president and CEO of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

The best commercial of 2016 … where no message has gone before

I have used this space to discuss marketing messages that don’t work, but this blog post is dedicated to pointing out a totally effective message.

While taking part in the annual Treksgiving Marathon of the original Star Trek television series on BBC America, the bombardment of commercials was immense. It was impossible to decipher one message from the next because they all began with Black Friday specials, deals, sales, end-of-year clearances and every other adjective one could think of. In other words, between “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Galileo Seven”*, the glaze factor took hold and the turkey’s tryptophan kicked in until a message actually broke through.

This nearly impossible feat was accomplished by, the online dating service. As a happily married person for more than 20 years, I have no interest in this website whatsoever. However, the message that hit it out of the park was so simple and direct. The entire spot comprised individuals saying to a friend, sibling, parent, workmate and even a police officer, “I met someone.” It didn’t go any further than showing the excitement of meeting the “one,” or who may possibly be this new person in their lives. It didn’t blast away with deals or bargains, but hit at the most essential part of an individual’s life and that is connection.

And connection, whether personal or professional, is what we desire most. How often do we bring the same feeling or sentiment home from a long series of trips to meet with clients or potential clients, conferences, seminars, events and a host of other meetings on the road? How often do you report to your manager or team, “Hey, just sat with … for two hours. We walked our pitchbook, and they liked it and they liked us?” In other words, “I met someone,” and it looks very promising.

What accomplished in 30 seconds and three words is exactly how successful messaging works and why it looks like, from this vantage point, the best commercial of 2016. We spend so many hours honing our marketing strategies and so often overcomplicate the simplest message of all, which is to connect.

* “The Galileo Seven” remains my favorite Star Trek episode of all time. What’s yours?

Jonathan_Schein-NEWThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Jonathan Schein is senior vice president and managing director of global business development at Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

All things Japan

Beautiful sakura cherry blossom light up and Tokyo Tower landmark at Chidorigafuchi Tokyo

Japan, particularly its capital city of Tokyo, remains a safe haven for investors still craving core real estate.

Japanese markets remain particularly appealing to investors because of the “positive yield spread between real estate assets and the cost of capital,” according to Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2017, a forecast survey jointly published by the Urban Land Institute and PwC:

“One reason for this is the Bank of Japan’s ongoing bond repurchase program, which has soaked up most of the Japanese government bonds that are held by domestic banks or otherwise available on the open market. Banks are left with few investment alternatives than to lend to real estate at ‘ridiculously cheap’ rates.”

As we prepare — as best we can — for what 2017 will offer investors, here are some of the news stories and features on Japan published by Institutional Real Estate, Inc. this past year:

Jennifer-Molloy91x119The views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Jennifer Molloy is senior editor of Institutional Real Estate Asia Pacific.

When is a BRIC not a BRIC?

When it’s a BRICS. BRICs, small s, is the plural way of referring to the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. It’s debatable whether all of those countries can still be referred to as emerging markets after the decades of growth that they have enjoyed — or endured, where it occasionally didn’t go so well — since Jim O’Neill, then of Goldman Sachs, coined the term in 2001. Is China an emerging market or the world’s second-largest economy or both? Though some would point to certain of the current risk, legal and political characteristics of those four countries as firmly meaning that the term does still apply.

BRICS, big S, is BRIC plus the S of South Africa, one of the top economies in Africa — certainly by GDP and definitely by GDP per capita — but another country that some investors across all asset classes might have problems with on risk, legal and political grounds, especially in the wake of the report published on Nov. 2 into possible endemic corruption at the upper levels of the South African government.

I have just returned from Cape Town, South Africa’s parliamentary and legislative capital, and can report that the view from the top of Table Mountain defies description — cable car and high winds permitting — particularly if you remember that the sun moves to the north during the day and not to the south, but also that the path of economic progress does not run smooth.

Table Mountain, South Africa

Table Mountain

It’s fine if you are in the heart of Cape Town CBD or head for the vineyards of the gentrified wine-growing areas around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, not so fine if you live in the townships or locations of Khayelitsha or Mitchells Plain (apostrophe or no apostrophe on Mitchells, yer pays yer money, etc.), where poverty and crime is rife and where the struggles of the indigenous population exemplify the efforts needed to escape the natural, stone-strewn path of life in an emerging economy.

Capetown CBD, South Africa

Cape Town CBD

South Africa — unsurprisingly, given its apartheid past — started with a policy of positive, black-first discrimination but this has not served its population well. It’s a black and white thing only in as far as the white elite has been augmented by a black elite and a burgeoning, aspiring, industrious black middle class; the poor, uneducated, downtrodden masses are still black and white and shades in between. Corruption, nepotism and historic intertribal feuds (the country has 11 official languages) are only some of the ongoing issues that have been holding the country back, and that’s before you get into the latent hostility between the Afrikaner and British white populations — and there are reasons for that.

A Cape Peninsula township. Photo credit: Richard Fleming, 2016

A Cape Peninsula township. Photos: Richard Fleming

I last visited South Africa in 1982, at the height of apartheid. It was clear then that change was inevitable and it was good, and just as well, that the transition after 1989/1993 was peaceful (and that the country’s seven nuclear weapons were dismantled). The example of Zimbabwe shows how it could have gone.

Despite South Africa optimistically being placed in the BRICS basket — the implication being this will help turn it from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan — the country hasn’t gone as far forward as you might expect. It is still a country of extremes and superlatives. Apartheid is no more — the days of white/nonwhite benches on railway station platforms are thankfully over — and the people may be free, but to what avail if daily life is still difficult, if the mass of population is not much better off (or does not think it is better off), if the gap between rich and poor is greater than ever?

There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, social conflict and potential future disruption. Unemployment among the registered workforce is among the highest in the world, at 27 percent. Among the black population, unemployment is reported to be five times higher than for the white population, at 40 percent. That’s hard to escape from. Jobs in the moribund private-sector economy are few and far between, whether you’re uneducated or educated to degree level. The latest quarterly labor force numbers were due to be published on Oct. 31 but were postponed twice in the weeks since due to difficulties with data collection.

This is not what Nelson Mandela had in mind. And it is not what being part of a favored-country, forward-looking emerging-market acronym like BRICS is meant to be about.

And what is the plural of BRICS?

RichardFlemingThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Richard Fleming is editor of Institutional Real Estate Europe.

All I want for Christmas is to shop online

Making an online purchase

As the holiday season descends, shoppers around the globe are prepping their gift checklists and mapping out where they can shop the best bargains.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights, 137.4 million, yes, million, Americans are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend. That is nearly six in 10 Americans.

What’s even more eye-opening is that those 137.4 million American consumers plan to spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season this year, with an average of $139.61 spent on themselves, up 4 percent from 2015 and marking the second-highest level of personal spending.

But with the crazy Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping mayhem, are Americans willing to go out and possibly be trampled in actual brick-and-mortar stores, or will they turn their attention toward online shopping and Cyber Monday spending?

According to Nielsen’s 2016 holiday trend report, e-commerce retailers stand to benefit from shoppers’ continued affinity for online shopping because consumers across all generations are spending more online, and millennials are leading the way, with 25 percent of millennials planning to increase their online expenditures this holiday season. Overall, there is expected to be a 2 percentage point increase in online holiday shopping, up from 17 percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2016. Jordan Rost, vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen, notes:

“With a growing appetite for all things digital, online platforms will have a more significant role in helping consumers both research and purchase gifts during this holiday season. Retailers take note, virtual environments present opportunities and unlimited growth potential for merchants — especially with the millennial, digital consumer.”

One thing that could put a damper on holiday spending is the presidential election. According to an analysis released Nov. 17 by Adobe Marketing Cloud, of 18.1 billion visits to retail websites, online sales rose 1.3 percent between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14, well under the 7.8 percent that had been forecast. Most of the decline happened after Republican Donald Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. By Adobe’s reckoning, businesses lost out on more than $800 million in sales. Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director at Adobe Digital Insights, notes:

“Instead of the expected 11 percent year-over-year increase, we expect growth to fall to single digits this year. Sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday will be an important indicator of how much sales expectations need to be adjusted this shopping season.”

Here’s hoping turkey, dreidels and jingle bells get consumers in the holiday spirit, so sales are boosted and the economy is supported. I know I’m looking forward to shopping the deals from the comfort of my own home.

For more information on the rise in e-commerce and how it is affecting the industrial industry, see “The new retail” in the December issue of Institutional Real Estate Americas.

DenisewebfinalThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Denise DeChaine is special projects editor of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

Where do interest rates go from here?

cherrytreesfederalreserveFed watching is a perennial pursuit for the commercial real estate industry: reading the tea leaves of the chair’s opaque statements and speculating whether the target federal funds rate will lifted, lowered or held steady.

Prior to last week, the consensus seemed to be for a 0.25 percent increase the target federal funds rate at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in December, and perhaps one or two additional quarter-point increases in 2017. But that was before Donald Trump was elected president.

Now, Fed watchers are expecting a more inflationary environment (as a result of proposed fiscal stimulus plans), and that could mean additional rate increases in the year ahead. JLL notes, in its 2016 Election Impact report, some of the monetary policy implications of the election:

“The initial expectation was that a Trump victory would create more volatility and take the expected rate hike by the Fed in December off the table. However, if the markets remain stable, the Fed will instead focus on the underlying fundamentals of the economy (e.g. market at or near full employment, wage growth, stable pricing). There is some question about whether Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will resign or be replaced given the new regime. Trump’s fiscal plan seems to point to a rise in the deficit, which could lead to higher inflation and interest rates expectations.”

While markets have remained stable in the wake of the unexpected election results, considerable policy uncertainty remains, and the potential for volatility is high. PGIM Real Estate’s report, U.S. Election Results and Implications for Americas Real Estate, points to four key adjustments to the status quo, with restrictive trade and immigration policies — building on Trump’s divisive campaign promises — as “likely to have a net negative impact on U.S. commercial real estate tenant and investor demand.” These would be partially mitigated by increased infrastructure spending and reduction in taxes. PGIM Real estate notes:

“While some of these policy shifts may be significant, it is unclear how strong Trump’s mandate is, and perhaps more importantly whether some of his policy priorities are shared with Congressional leaders in his party. This may prolong the policy uncertainty period well into next year and potentially longer, and possibly result in legislation that is mostly incremental rather than abrupt.”

LorettawebfinalThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Loretta Clodfelter is editor of Institutional Real Estate Americas.

North America is ready to build

CG-LA Infrastructure hosted its North American Infrastructure forum in Denver in October. The theme was Blueprint 2025, a working document that was developed before and during the event.

“Note that Blueprint 2025 is very different from think tank and other inside the beltway initiatives because the themes and 19 specific recommendations aren’t invented out of thin air, but are the results of your insights based on your experiences. It is inductive, from the ground up,” says Norman Anderson, CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure.

The Blueprint helped CG/LA and its conference guests develop several objectives, including:

  1. Make infrastructure a top three priority of the next U.S. administration.
  2. Double the level of infrastructure investment in the United States and invest in the right projects, increasingly including projects that will make a difference in our long-term competitiveness.
  3. Help policymakers to develop a sophisticated and practical understanding of infrastructure, especially at the beginning of the next administration.

CG/LA also released its eighth annual Strategic 100 North American Infrastructure report, which details the top 100 North American projects, including the top 10. The report notes:

“In moving to specific country trends, one notes how average project value has remained relatively consistent in Canada while witnessing major increases in both Mexico and the United States. This in part reflects the effects of lower oil and gas prices, which has affected the short-term financial viability of some of Canada’s most expansive (and expensive) projects. While much has been made by both presidential candidates in the recent election about the poor state of infrastructure in the United States, total project value has increased by around 50 percent from last year.”

DrewWebsiteThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Drew Campbell is senior editor of Institutional Investing in Infrastructure.

Can’t beat ’em? Ban ’em

If you need a room in the Big Apple, no worries — its plentitude of hotels range from the fabulously expensive and sumptuous to the economical and utilitarian. After all, New York City attracts about 50 million visitors per year and has about 100,000 hotel rooms to accommodate them, and many more slated for construction. That’s not counting the additional 35,000 properties available for rent through Airbnb, which counts the city as its largest market.

Now we can rephrase that statement in past tense after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ratified a law that levies major fines on those who do business with Airbnb.

The political power of the city hotel business is manifest. Hoteliers have seen the statistics: Airbnb users spent $2.4 billion on U.S. lodging during 2015, and no doubt much of that money otherwise would have gone to hotel coffers.

Rent your New York City residence via Airbnb and get slapped with a $1,000 fine if you’re a first-time offender. Do it a second time, and you owe the city five grand. Recidivism gets even more expensive, with a fine of $7,500 for third and ensuing offenses.

It’s not that you absolutely cannot do business with Airbnb, but the strictures applied to renting your living space are so limiting that the new legislation will effectively gut Airbnb’s operations there. The law specifically targets short-term rentals, which it defines as lease deals of less than 30 days, which is Airbnb’s meat and potatoes. People can list spaces for rent for less than 30 days only if they’re also living or staying on the premises during the visitors’ stay. Not exactly an optimal situation for either party.

New York City put these rules into effect in 2011, but the law had no real enforcement mechanism. The new law gives government the power to flog violators’ bank accounts.

Airbnb reportedly offered a list of concessions to the state in an effort to head off the law, but got brushed aside in what it claims was “backroom dealing.”

Airbnb has threatened to sue. In the meantime, there will be lots of room at the Airbnb inns in New York.

MikeCfinalwebThe views, statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

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Mike Consol is editor of Real Assets Adviser.