Rick Chichester Rick Chichester

The retail sector is rapidly becoming a niche market—at least in the way that brokers and investors need to have a specialized knowledge of the retail business and retail trends to play. Retail brokerage firm Faris Lee Investments understands the importance of market knowledge and training in retail, and has a five-year training program for new brokers. That training period has become increasingly important as the retail market has evolved, and the firm is working diligently to deepen its retail roots. Last week, it announced a strategic partnership with the X-Team Retail Advisors, an organization of 36 brokerage firms, and is looking to create specialized teams in four pillar retail verticals.

“It is my opinion that of the three main asset classes, retail is the most complex. Consequently, the training behind it is critical,” Rick Chichester, president and CEO of Faris Lee Investments, tells GlobeSt.com. “It is one of the things that makes X-team unique. Our typical training behind retail—leasing and tenant rep and investment sales—is a five-year program. You have to learn the business from the ground up, which includes all of the underwriting and how to properly position an asset.”

The partnership with X-team reinforces the skill level at Faris Lee, and Chichester says that is evidenced in the average tenure at each organization. While there is no market standard for retail training, Chichester is confident in the skill level that the training program provides. “If you look at the similarities, Faris Lee is 17.5 years. We have really seasoned people in this organization,” he says. “That doesn’t meant that our age is old. Our median age is in the mid-40s. In X-team, the senior leadership is so experienced that the training for any new broker is extreme. I can’t speak for how that compares to the market, but the level of skill and quality is collectively very strong. We feel very confident in the level of skill.”

This year, Faris Lee will up the ante on its already deep market knowledge and experienced team by creating specialized teams in single-tenant net lease, a mid-market, multi-tenant retail and buyer representation and deal match. As a result, the firm will likely recruit new talent this year as well. “At Faris Lee, there is some strategic work going on internally due to the opportunity to join X-team, and we will be expanding our investment retail to go deeper into the vertical,” explains Chichester. We are going to be building out four very specialized business practices, which will mean we will be adding another 10 to 12 brokers. We are going to take a specialized firm and specialize deeper into the verticals.”