Real Assets Adviser

October 1, 2020: Vol. 7, Number 9

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From the Current Issue

In memoriam: Gerald Hines

More than 4,800 employees in 25 countries, 907 projects built and $144.1 billion of real estate under management. Those are some of the numbers associated with Gerald Hines and his namesake company when he succumbed to cancer at age 95 on Aug. 23. But the numbers, as titanic as they are, tell only part of the story for a man who the New York Times dubbed architects’ “Medici” for the way he transformed skylines around the world by recruiting blue-chip architects (I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and Robert A.M. Stern among them) and embracing the credo that good design is good business.

5 Questions: Fintech keeps remaking the finance business

If one is looking for a hot asset class, few can match fintech, a class of companies and services that is disrupting traditional finance. One of the close observers of the fintech revolution is Will Cong, who teaches finance and management in the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University.

911 for 1031: The 2020 presidential election could be taxing

“Let me talk to you about the 1031,” I said to a congressional staffer in Washington, D.C. This was during the early days of negotiations on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The staffer looked at me and blinked. There was a pause. “Ten-thirty-one,” he repeated, somewhat confused. He looked at his wristwatch. Shook his head. “No, it is much later than that.”

Pro sports, the billionaires’ club

I’m a big basketball fan. During my youth I played the sport with considerable skill. Now I watch, especially the NCAA tournament (euphemistically known as March Madness) and the NBA playoffs. The NBA has also become a playground for billionaire owners, such as Philip Anschutz (Los Angeles Lakers), Micky Arison (Miami Heat), Steve Ballmer (Los Angeles Clippers), Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks), Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers), Tom Gores (Detroit Pistons), Stanley Kroenke (Denver Nuggets), Robert Pera (Memphis Grizzlies, and the list goes on. At last count, there were 20 billionaire owners of NBA teams.

Where to find inexpensive real estate development opportunities

There are several sectors of our economy that are not getting the highest and best use of their vacant land. In this sense, many are ripe for new residential development but lack the liquidity or expertise to do so. Underutilized industrial land, small towns, church land and vacant land near golf courses are but a few examples of this scenario.

New investing themes for a new decade

Urbanization, demographics, technology — these are some of the repeated mantras used by thematic investors for many years running, even as the U.S. and global economies have undergone a metamorphosis worthy of a Kafka novel. Yet, investment strategists seem to keep repeating the same, old, tired set of “themes” to guide their asset selection.

Timber time for portfolios: It failed CIOs in 2007–2008 but this time might be different

Some portfolio managers and advisers have re-evaluated their investment strategies as COVID-19 struck a heavy blow to global markets and economies. With investors comparing the economics of the recession beginning in February to that of the 2007–2008 financial crisis, we have observed similar characteristics in the economic downturn and institutional responses (albeit on an incredibly condensed time-scale) as the Federal Reserve took steps to inject liquidity into the economy and attempted to restore confidence in financial markets.

The emergence of the mega-RIA and the future of wirehouses

We are witnessing a powerful new force in the advice business, what we refer to as the mega-RIA. They are going to be the new kids on the block in gaining market share in acquisitions of other firms and garnering new client assets. They will very effectively compete with everyone from Vanguard to broker/dealers, and to other wealth managers including smaller RIAs, trust companies and family offices.

Roundtable: How does your organization use social media?

Susan Gerard, chief marketing officer, Moneta Moneta posts industry, market and firm news on LinkedIn and Twitter. On Facebook and Instagram our posts speak to the culture of our organization, such as internal events and the firm's charitable foundation work. At the adviser level, we have a centralized compliance-approved library of firm, industry and lifestyle content for them to post on their own social media accounts, and those posts link back to our website news pages. We monitor reach, engagement and search trends. Advisers find our approach impactful with clients and prospects, and we've seen it resonate with employees and in recruitment efforts as well.

RIAs and real estate: Gap between investor interest and adviser allocations is broad

When investors think of investments outside of stocks and bonds, often the first thing that comes to mind is real estate. Real estate is the largest segment of alternative investments, making up nearly one-third of the market. But research suggests that, despite high interest, registered investment advisers’ clients are underallocated to real estate — especially private real estate investments.

Investing in innovation: The emerging sub-asset class

We believe a strategic allocation to innovation will likely evolve into a sub-asset class, as did the “niche” strategy of the 1980s — emerging markets. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, investors had little, if any, exposure to what has evolved into 13 percent of the global equity market capitalization, and 60 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) on a purchasing power parity basis. In 1981, while proposing a global public equity fund for developing countries, Antoine van Agtmael of the International Finance Corp. (IFC) coined the term “emerging markets.” The IFC began tracking total return data for 10 developing markets and discovered “attractive results … making a good case for increased investment.”

What the pandemic has wrought for real estate: Five property types and their prospects

Roughly 8 billion people on planet earth and not a one successfully predicted this most recent economic collapse. All can be forgiven for not having foreseen the blackest of black swan disruptions, a once-in-a-century viral pandemic. It struck almost without warning, and with such speed and ferocity, there was no time for any industry to prepare. Among the economic victims has been the real estate industry, to greater or lesser extent depending on the property type.

Urban exodus: The suburban migration of the COVID-19 era has begun

Sales of Manhattan homes are down more than 50 percent since the coronavirus hit. Affluent people are leaving New York City in droves, heading to their homes in various garden spots. High taxes, the threat of a new billionaires’ tax, and political protests add to the downturn in the Big Apple.

Profile: John Dowd, CEO of Fiduciary Trust International

John Dowd joined Fiduciary Trust International as CEO in April 2016 and has nearly 30 years of leadership experience in wealth management. His previous professional stints include executive positions at the Bank of New York and Wells Fargo.

Electric trucks on a roll: Financial benefits of electrification producing record sales

Heavy-duty electrified trucks are starting to roll like quiet thunder on U.S. highway and byways, and the truckers behind the wheel can count on less stress and fatigue when compared with the noise and vibration of traditional combustion engine big rigs. More to the point, the rising tide of interest in fleet electrification is banked on the financial benefits companies expect to accrue, including lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Drivers not wanted: Alphabet offspring plotting 40-mile autonomous vehicle corridor

Cavnue, a subsidiary company of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, has unveiled its first major project, a 40-mile corridor dedicated to autonomous vehicles and running between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. Beyond that, Cavnue and its partners — including BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota and Waymo, among others — envision numerous corridors designed for autonomous shuttles and buses, as well as trucks and personal vehicles.

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