Commercial real estate is an asset class that I have wanted to participate in for a long time, but I did not know where to find opportunities. NexusCrowd has solved this for me by bringing quality debt and equity deals at a capital commitment level that is accessible and allows me to build a diversified portfolio.
You occasionally invest in start ups, how do you select which ones to back?
The start up community is full of exciting and ground breaking ideas and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of opportunities. After initially being inundated with deal flow and the required due diligence, I put in place a rules based approach to help identify the opportunities worth the appropriate focus.
Any potential investments had to have three characteristics: a large addressable market, a strong coherent leadership team that I could meet with in person, and a catalyst.
These characteristics are not exhaustive. Other considerations are growth rates, valuation, structure of the cap table, corporate governance and competitive landscape. If I cannot tick the boxes on the three characteristics I’ve identified, I move on to other potential opportunities.
What is your biggest takeaway after 25+ years in the investment/financial services industry and working in different countries?
We all, for better or worse, operate from a framework defined by our experiences. Typically our more painful experiences factor more prominently in regards to decision making. After entering the financial markets in the late 80’s I experienced the liquidation of Long Term Capital Management in 1998, the internet bubble in 2000 and the financial crisis of 2008. All of these events inform my view that there is always a potential “train wreck” lurking out there and that preserving capital is paramount.
I approach every investment with the question: What if I am wrong? Managing the risk and limiting my downside is always my focus.
Why do you like real estate investing ?
Real estate is a tangible asset that is relatively easily understood, it offers inflation protection and diversification from other financial instruments. Global population growth and migration serves as a powerful tailwind for long term returns. Also in this low interest rate environment real estate can offer relatively high stable income returns.
I appreciate the range of investment possibilities – debt and equity, varying credit quality and the returns commensurate with the risk I am willing to take.
What career advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Looking back, that list of advice would be long. One of the top ten would be to find a mentor. A mentor can help by offering candid actionable feedback, framing issues to ensure you are considering different perspectives and helping you manage your blind spots. I had a few mentors throughout my career and I am immensely grateful for the time they spent guiding and coaching me.
What books have you read recently and why?
Win Bigly by Scott Adams. Scott Adams created the Dilbert comic and was an early predictor of Trump’s win. I wanted to understand the author’s take on the Trump campaign and presidency.
The Four by Scott Galloway. I was interested to hear the author’s theories on some of the darker aspects of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google especially in light of a potential regulatory focus regarding the power and reach of these companies.
Evicted by Matthew Desmond. This book is recommended by Bill Gates. Desmond is a Harvard sociologist who thoroughly examines extreme poverty and its devastating social consequences.
Ian has more than 25 years experience in the global financial services industry focused on investment and risk management. His experience spans roles in fixed income, equity derivatives, prime brokerage, equity finance and proprietary trading across Asia, USA, UK and Canada.
In his latest role, Ian was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs Asia responsible for Pan-Asia Macro Trading managing delta-one derivatives, program trading and index arbitrage. Ian was a member of the deal team involved in several high profile structured corporate deals. Ian served on the Asia Pacific Finance Committee tasked with allocating capital, balance sheet and resources in the region. Ian was also involved in various industry organizations meeting with financial regulators around the region. Prior to Goldman Sachs, Ian was a fixed income trader for a US based hedge fund responsible for non-dollar government arbitrage trading.