The World Has Changed, Now What Do We Do?
Almost four years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginnings of the most challenging economic recession since the Great Depression, it has become clear that our world has changed. More than a straightforward de-leveraging of the economy or a re-strengthening of the global banking system, (as challenging, painful and seemingly impossible those tasks are), it appears that some assumptions about how the economy works, how to invest successfully, and how to anticipate the future may have to be re-evaluated. The world is unlikely to go back to where it was before. But if that is the case, where is it going and how do we plan for the future?
As once explained by the 18th century Irish politician, author, and philosopher Edmund Burke, “You can never plan the future by the past.” Well understood by commercial real estate investors, this truism is prompting leaders to focus their thinking on what is happening now and what could happen in the future, not on what might have worked before. In early June of 2012, a small group of commercial real estate leaders assembled by the National Association of Real Estate Managers (NAREIM) gathered at a small hotel in Chicago for the first annual 2020 Investor Summit to discuss changes, big and small, and explore new ideas about real estate investing.
The following areas were discussed:
- Real Estate Usage – technology and demographic shifts are changing how people use real estate – and will likely make this recovery dramatically different from past recoveries.
- Investment Capital – An exciting new development in defined contribution plans may represent a huge potential source for new real estate investment capital.
- Human Capital – As the economy recovers, fund raising, business continuity, risk and governance all have a significant and challenging human capital aspect to be considered.
- Regulations, Accounting and Transactions – Changes in accounting and structuring of deals will have a meaningful impact on how investment managers need to conduct their business.
- Information, Technology and Process – Is it time now for the real estate investment management firms of today to upgrade their approach by buying process rather than technology?