Commercial Property Executive February 2011 : Page 25

Visionary Building the Firm Of the Future Shekar Narasimhan on Real Estate, the Government and Finance Beekman Advisors managing partner Shekar Narasimhan spoke with editor-in-chief Suzann D. Silverman about the real estate and real estate finance markets. An icon in commercial and multi-family real estate circles, Narasimhan has spent the past 30 years in the industry, working in nonprofits, property management and real estate development before moving into banking and the mortgage business. In December 1997, he took WMF Group public, selling it to Prudential Mortgage Capital Co. in 2000. In 2003, he started Beekman Advisors, which serves as a strategic advisor to real estate firms in the United States and a principal investor in India. Q. A. Given your industry experience, what lessons have you learned and how have you been ap-plying them? I’ve learned two lessons, and I think they both are relevant to today’s times. The first really is, if you’re in this business, expect the unexpected. Because (with) the things that you know, you can plan, you can measure, you can quantify and you can evaluate. It’s the things you don’t know and don’t expect that are actually either the best opportunities or the biggest pitfalls. And so it’s important to plan for what’s on the other side of the door that’s unseen, as opposed to what’s obvious and seen. And that distinguish-es true leadership and vision from just operational excellence. That’s impor-tant in real estate today and real estate finance. And the second is something people don’t want to hear, and in real estate particu-larly because it’s entrepreneurial … which is that government policy affects everything. Among government initiatives, what do you agree with and what are you concerned about as it relates to real estate? A. | February 2011 25 Photos by Alina Patel Q. What had to be done was done with TARP. … Many years from now, when all the histrion-ics are over, people will gauge that it was both necessary to have done it when it was done, and then it was executed actually rather well in a crisis; and No. 2, that the net result was that it did save the system at the lowest possible cost that one can imagine. … The biggest negative is the government has introduced over the last several years a high degree of uncertainty—uncertainty about how you’re going to get taxed, how much intervention there’s going to be, which sectors of the economy, of the marketplace it will support or not support. The more uncer-tainty there is in the system about what government policy is going to look like, what tax policy is go-ing to look like, where government intervention may or may not oc-cur and to what degree, the less it is desirable for someone to make a long-term investment. And the dif-ference between real estate generally as an asset class and most other asset classes is that we’re making pretty long-term commitments. ... I would argue that the support for the financial system, the conservator-

Visionary: Building the Firm of the Future

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