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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT VS. ASSET MANAGEMENT

Cheryl Gray is senior vice president at Bentall Capital in Toronto.

The split wasn’t quite as wide as one would hope, but it is at least weighted toward the proper side. Some 57% of respondents to last week’s Feedback Poll claim that their shops see the ultimately profitable connection that exists between asset-management and property-management functions, with 43% stating that a disconnect exists between the two. Needless to say, a service provider can’t fulfill his mission to maximize a building’s near- and long-term performance if all parties up to their elbows in the success of that asset aren’t talking. Commentator Gray sheds some light on the often tenuous balance that exists therein.

“The essential challenge in this issue is making sure that property management at the micro level understands how their activities and plans for that particular property will and should connect back up to the asset-management strategy. If the two sides aren’t communicating, there’s the opportunity for conflicts to occur.

The disciplines, of course, represent two different perspectives on the same physical asset. Property managers deal in the here-and-now while the asset manager deals largely in longer-term hold strategies. If property management is not aware of that strategy, they could be planning on an entirely different platform. So the two must communicate. Owner expectations are critical, and if the owner is not the asset manager, it’s especially critical that the asset manager communicate succinctly to property management. The two need to understand what the objectives are.

“In our firm, where we have both an asset-management and property-management group, the property-management group was at one time not as closely linked to what that business model looked like. The result was that a lot of time and effort was spent at the property-management side developing programs or capital plans that were not at all compatible with the owner’s objective. In the past 10 to 15 years, this industry has seen a strong divergence of the two, but we still have yet to define the roles fully, because these definitions can change from company to company.

“Certainly, property management has evolved in those 10 to 15 years. It used to be a job focused on managing keys. It’s become much more sophisticated. But sometimes, that sophistication is not always valued as much as it could be by those in the asset-management community.”

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