Ian Marcus - Senior Advisor, Eastdil Secured

Posted on 14 February 2020

Susan Freeman

Hi, I’m Susan Freeman, welcome back to our PropertyShe podcast series brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum where I get to interview some of the key influencers in the amazing world of real estate and the built environment.  Today I am delighted to welcome Ian Marcus.  Ian graduated from Cambridge University in 1981 with a Degree in Land Economy.  He was in the banking industry for over 32 years working for Bank of America, UBS, NatWest and Bankers Trust Deutsche; always focussing on real estate.  Ian joined Credit Suisse First Boston in 1999 to establish the Real Estate Group and became Managing Director and Chairman of their European Real Estate Investment Banking Division.  Ian is the Trustee of the Prince’s Foundation, a Crown Estate Commissioner, a member of Redevco’s Advisory Board, Senior Independent Director for both Secure Income REIT and Shurgard Self Storage and a Non-Exec Director for Town Centre Securities Plc.  He became a Senior Consultant to Eastdil Secured in 2013.  He is also President of the Cambridge University Land Society and a Senior Advisor to two new businesses, Work.Life and Elysian Residences.  Ian is also a past President of the British Property Federation, past Chairman of the Investment Property Forum and for ten years Chaired the Bank of England Commercial Property Forum.  Ian is also known as the best networker in the real estate sector.  So, now we are going to hear from Ian Marcus on his long and distinguished career in investment banking and his ongoing plural role in the real estate sector and Ian has just taken on an exciting new role which he will be telling us about.  Ian, welcome to the studio. 

Ian Marcus

Hello Susan, pleasure to be here. 

Susan Freeman

So, going sort of straight in, when you were growing up, what dreams did you have, I mean did you dream of going into real estate finance or were you thinking about other things at the time?

Ian Marcus

I was a kid growing up in Bournemouth on the south coast, all I wanted to be, like all children of that age, was a footballer and I had just signed schoolboy forms to play for Bournemouth which were then the old third division, so nothing as grand as it is today, and then my father came home one day and he worked for subsidiary of GUS and said “We’re moving to Westcliffe on Sea” which I had no idea where that was – it’s the relatively smart part of Southend – and he said “And you’re going to grammar school that only plays rugby” and I was heartbroken at that moment and turned up as an eleven year old and had no idea about what I wanted to do at that stage but loved getting into the sport, saw my sporting hero still of today, Gareth Edwards, play for Wales in 1970 and said “Please sir, I want to play scrum half” and the rest as they say regarding my rugby career is history.  But my passion at school which varied according to the subject, I was not particularly good at the sciences, was actually geography.  I was not a great book reader as a kid but I loved looking at atlases so if you wanted to ask me about capital cities, rivers, mountains, things of that sort, that was my topic and so geography I suppose led on to an interest in cities and the subject I studied a lot in the sixth form was third world economics which I suppose was my entry ticket to being recommended by my geography teacher to try for Cambridge, and so I went to Cambridge to study Geography, primarily because it was just my favourite subject and I always say to youngsters of today, “Don’t worry about what you are studying as long as you are enjoying it” and turned up in Cambridge in 1977 as a grammar school boy from Essex, not knowing much about anything except I could kick a rugby ball a long way and studied my favourite subject. 

Susan Freeman

So, you started with Geography and then you moved on to Land Economy.  Why was that?

Ian Marcus

I did.  Well, all the courses at Cambridge are a Part 1 and a Part 2 and I had done two years of Geography and then they announced that you had to do a dissertation for your third year which meant giving up your summer and I had spent all my summers while at University coaching sport in America and I didn’t want anything particularly to get in the way of that and so I was thinking about what else I could do; Land Economy then was only a Part 2 and you had to do it for two years so after an interesting conversation with my father about extending my University life by a year and the Council giving me a grant when those things used to happen, I switched to Land Economy because it was a sort of extension of the things I enjoyed in Geography, you know the human geography, the planning, the city, a bit of statistics, bit of architecture and of course infamously in those days, Land Economy you are were either to manage daddy’s estate or to win your blue and I failed miserably on both counts. 

Susan Freeman

On the Land Economy course, were there other people that sort of subsequently went into real estate that…?

Ian Marcus

Oh yes, a great coterie of famous names in our sector who remain to this day very good friends and I hope they won’t mind the name checks but Robin Butler the Chief Exec of Urban & Civic, Michael Brockman now Chairman CBRE UK, Noel Manns the Founder of Europa, Simon Cooke of APAM and many others so, it was a great class and despite the barbed criticisms of Land Economy, some good people were produced from that course. 

Susan Freeman

Were there any women on the course at that time?

Ian Marcus

Well, not many, I mean, is the truth.  We were talking about this just the other day as a group of us, we did an event for the Cambridge University Land Society,  very inappropriately called Grumpy Old Men, where that group I just mentioned all got together and compared notes on how the world has changed in the now forty years since we started together and I think we got to a total of about five women out of about sixty on the course, none of which have any senior roles in the industry today, there is one lady who went to live in America and I think is now on the Board of Google and various other companies so has been hugely successful but nothing to do with real estate. 

Susan Freeman

And then your first job after University was banking?

Ian Marcus

It was banking and, again, I sort of make no apologies for this, I am a great fatalist, as is say I had spent all three summers working in America during the breaks from University, wanted to go and live in America and thought that the best way of doing that was to go and work for an American firm.  Now, you have to remember this was ‘80/81 before such things as investment banks as we know them today were even existed, those followed on with Big Bang in the mid to late eighties.  So, I applied to ten US banks, all of them used to do Oxford and Cambridge on the Milk Round and didn’t go any further, and would come up and interview us and I was lucky enough to get offered a series of jobs and the first one was with Bank of America which was then the biggest bank in the world and I got a call from the Head of Recruitment who said “Would you only work in London?” and I said “No, no, I am not from London, I am a provincial boy” and I was thinking “Great, they are going to send me to San Francisco, the global headquarters”, they said “That’s marvellous, we’d like you to go and work in Birmingham” so there was a bit of firstly checking which Birmingham they meant, whether it was West Midlands or Alabama but I went to work and live in Birmingham for two and a half years, it was great for my rugby career, it was great for my social career, it also actually being a smaller office gave you a lot of responsibility very early on so I was learning to be a commercial banker lending, foreign exchange, letters of credit, those sorts of things and when anything property came up they went “You studied Land Economy, you know all about this” and I would phone Michael Brockman who was then at St Quintin’s or Robin Butler who was at Richard Ellis and asked them how you looked at and calculated rents and yields because I probably hadn’t been to that lecture and got into real estate more that way and to got to know the lending team in London at Bank of America and then two/two and a half years later moved to London and joined the Lending Team which was heavily involved in lending to people such as Hammerson, Heron, MEPC, London Merchant Securities, so that’s when my relationships in the industry really began and we funded the first phases of Broadgate and did some very interesting things.

Susan Freeman

So, there then followed 32 years in banking working for a number of banks and latterly at Credit Suisse heading up the European Real Estate offering I think during your career you have been involved in financing, probably more than once, most of the sort of landmark deals.  Are there any that stand out particularly for positive or negative reasons?

Ian Marcus

Well, you are absolutely right, they are now knocking buildings down that I financed which says more about me than the buildings in think.  I think Broadgate in its various ways was quite iconic in terms of its scale and the type of financing.  I suppose when you look back at individual transactions, one of the highlights – it didn’t seem like a highlight at the time, it seemed like a very painful experience – was two years spent acting for Her Majesty’s Government, the Ministry of Defence, on the sale of what was called the Married Quarters Estate which was 46,000 properties across the country which was ultimately sold for £1.67 billion to Guy Hands when he was at Nomura to create Annington.  I think that was a watershed deal for the industry, not just in terms of its scale but it was the first time that securitisation had been used as a substantial form of financing, it was the first really substantive sale and lease back that was undertaken so, I have many good, excuse the pun, war stories from that transaction.  I think the, over forty odd years one of the scariest meetings I had ever had to speak at was to the Servicemen’s Wives Association who wanted to make sure that their houses were properly repaired and maintained while their other halves were serving abroad in Iraq or Afghanistan so, you have different experiences over the course of a deal like that. 

Susan Freeman

You’ve also worked with many of our leading property entrepreneurs, I know you were involved in the very early days of Regus with Mark Dixon, how did that come about?

Ian Marcus

Well, I was at NatWest at the time, this would have been early mid-nineties, and Mark literally walked in off the street having heard that NatWest was very well known in those days for financing, you know, very entrepreneurial sort of startup companies, I mean they IPO’d Barclay Homes at less than £10 million and so they were very good at recognising talent and Mark came and told us that he was moving back from Belgium, was about to buy a business then owned by Reinhold the Swedish company which was serviced offices.  None of us really understood the concept at the time, we all thought that’s what you did if you couldn’t let a building on a long lease, and I got to know Mark very well, one of the great entrepreneurs I have worked with over my career without any question.  It then transpired that NatWest sold its investment bank to Bankers Trust, this was 1997, and Bankers Trust probably not known to many were probably the first of the US investment banks to start acting as a principal, I mean everyone is very aware of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and the others but BT were the first to do it, then headed by Richard Mully before Richard went on to Pryker and Soros and David Brush who came over the US and within weeks of that transaction happening, we agreed to commit $100 million to invest into Regus and we jointly invested that with Roger Orf who had his own platform at the time and Roger and I went on the Board of Regus, then a private company, and saw the highs and lows of how those businesses evolve.  But it was a great learning curve because we sat there and you can transfer the lessons to today that we all thought that when the downturn came that people would want flexibility, of course when the downturn came people got rid of what they could which was often shorter leases or licences because they were tied in to longer leases and we saw occupancy levels fall dramatically and it was a real lesson and I have watched with interest over the last year or two the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of WeWork and thought “I’ve seen this story somewhere before”. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, I mean things obviously have changed a lot in terms of the attitude towards flexible working so it will be interesting to see what happens when, you know, we go into a different property cycle.

Ian Marcus

Yes, and I think Mark and even to extent WeWork have reinvented the narrative.  I think we all believe that our customers, our occupiers, want great flexibility, greater service, greater concierge, so I have nothing against the principle, we are all having to move in that direction, we as an industry are a service provider of space and we have to recognise that, the days of landlord/tenant I think are behind us and therefore all owners of real estate need to adapt to what their clients need and I think Mark was a visionary in understanding that and so the concept is here to stay, which is the right model and which is the right operating platform yet to be decided. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, and of course we’re seeing a smaller flexible working group Work.Life because we are both on the Advisory Board and it’s absolutely fascinating to see, you know, how they operate and the community and the activities that they offer so there is something for everybody.  So, one of your other roles was President of the British Property Federation which I think was 2007/2008 and this was very unusual at the time because I think you were the first non-landlord to achieve that role.  How did you persuade them that you were the right person to lead the industry?

Ian Marcus

I don’t think you persuade the BPF and actually your comment about non-landlord, I am still the ONLY non-landlord, I think Guy Grainger is in the pipeline and I wish Guy all the best.  I think it was actually Will McKee when he was then - I don’t think it was called Chief Executive then, General Secretary or whatever it was of the BPF - said “The world is changing, we need to get the investment banks involved” so he invited four investment banks, Credit Suisse being one of them, to join.  There was a big argument about fees because of course normally the fees for joining the BPF are a percentage of the assets you own and we didn’t own any real estate assets so there was an interesting conversation there and we joined, that would have been early 2000s and I got involved and engaged with the BPF and then I was approached to say “Look, actually think about what’s happening in our industry at that time”, the mid-2000s, there were three real trends, one was the evolution of securitisation both debt and equity, secondly was the emergence of the use of derivatives in their broadest sense and thirdly of course was the debate which had been running for four years from ’03 to ’07 to create REITs in the UK, something we thought had gone away and then re-emerged and I was a member of what we are affectionately known as the Gang of Six with Liz Peace, Nick Ritblat, Stuart Beaver, John Gellatly in creating the REIT legislation for better of worse, so they felt wouldn’t it be useful to have someone who is involved on a day-to-day basis in the capital markets seeing these are the trends so it was a great honour.  I was lucky in that the market was still heading in the right direction and it was my successor Francis Salway who caught the brunt of the GFC but the BPF has over the years tried to reinvent itself and become more relevant rather than just a landlords’ club and I suppose I was part of that movement to try and do so and since then, you know, we’ve had greater diversity in our presidents and I was lucky enough for several years to Chair the Nominations Committee so I was pushing quite hard and we got people like David Marks of Brockton who was the first real estate private equity person to take on the role, we’ve obviously got Helen at the moment which is important in every which way in terms of both diversity but also recognising the importance of the residential sector so, yeah the BPF is trying move forward and respond to market circumstances. 

Susan Freeman

So, as you say, you had a role in introducing REITs to the UK.  Have they lived up to your expectations?    

Ian Marcus

Probably not is the answer.  If you think about the concept of democratising real estate and you look at the experiences of other places, most obviously America, who have had them since the ‘60s but really only took off in the early ‘80s.  They haven’t really achieved what we wanted and I would suggest very humbly that many companies that call themselves REITs aren’t really REITs as we were trying to do them in terms of coupon clipping, low leverage, low risk for the individual in the street to get exposure to real estate so, I think we have a way to go, obviously the markets will interpret them as they wish but the emergence of the triple net lease companies have helped a little bit, they are more in line with what the original vision was.

Susan Freeman

So, as you say, your BPF tenure ended just before the global financial crisis and you were able to hand over to somebody else but I think you then joined the Bank of England Commercial Property Forum and became Chairman for ten years so you must have been Chairman when Lehman went down?

Ian Marcus

Not quite, I mean what was interesting was I had been on that Committee for several years because originally the idea was you were invited to it if you happened to be Chairman of President of something and prior to being President of the BPF I had been Chairman of the Investment Property Forum so I had gone along there, then when I was BPF President I went along and my predecessors and successors in both roles said, “Well, you are a banker, it’s more natural for you to go” so I’d turn up to it, contribute where I could but it was a rather eclectic group of people who were there, as I say, just because they happened to hold a certain office which didn’t seem in my opinion to be in the best interests of the Bank of getting that information and I got a call then from Chris Bartrum who was the then Chair of that Forum and said, “Just to let you know, I am stepping down after three years” and I said “That’s a shame, I think you’ve done a great job, I think the Forum is very important” and he said “I am glad you said that, I’ve recommended you take over from me as Chairman”.  “Thank you, Chris” and I hopefully in a constructive way started to change the format that depending on the topics that the Bank wanted to discuss which may be city offices, development pipeline, capital market flows, whatever.  What I got around the table was I assembled who the right people were to have that conversation rather than just people who had the titles and there were one or two sort of consistent members of that committee I always enjoyed having because they always had a view and weren’t afraid to say it, I think that some of the REITs CEOs had to be more circumspect on what they said because of their listed responsibilities so it was an interesting sort of catalogue, I compare it to, the listeners who that are old enough to remember the old Mission Impossible when the leader would choose his team from the plastic folder for each one, there were always two or three constants and then there’d be special guest stars depending on the episode and that’s sort of how I viewed the Bank of England.  I was supposed to do it for two or three years and kept saying, “It’s time, it’s time” and ten years later eventually they listened to me. 

Susan Freeman

And who were those guest stars?  You knew that question was coming. 

Ian Marcus

I knew that.  Well, people whose opinions I have always valued, I mentioned Michael Brockman already, I think Michael is one of the great professionals of our industry so if you want a view on valuation you’d have Michael in attendance.  Nick Leslau someone you know very well and I think has done one of these previous podcasts, always has a view and has always been outspoken about the industry and the other one I always tried to get there was Peter Pereira Gray now Joint CEO of Wellcome Trust, because Peter was always someone who would give a slightly broader perspective of where real estate fits in with the investment landscape, and there were others as well, it’s probably unfair just to pick on those three but they were always ones that I always waited with bated breath to hear their thoughts and views on the subjects. 

Susan Freeman

And presumably lessons were learnt from the financial crash and hopefully they’ve been remembered?

Ian Marcus

I was very lucky, I mean the Committee was hosted by Andy Haldane, now the Chief Executive, and then he was succeeded by Alex Brazier, there were a couple of sort of bumps in the road but those are the two I spent a lot of time with.  Two of the most thoughtful, intelligent and yet commercial central bankers you’d ever want to meet and I still have a relationship with both, I think they are incredibly valuable to us as an industry that we have that connectivity.  The one thing that I think we did recognise was that there was an importance of the residential sector as well and of course the Bank will be monitoring mortgage provision across the board but we actually did start up half way during my tenure a Residential Property Forum, I thought that was important because of the significance and rather than complicate or duplicate what we were discussing in the Commercial Forum and I managed to persuade Nick Ritblat to Chair that Forum which he did hugely successfully for many years so I was very pleased about that and the Forum continues to thrive.  I don’t think the Bank is in any way as concerned as it was about the financial sustainability of the banks it regulates which there are only a small number, they are much better capitalised than they were during the crisis, I think they, we’ve talked a lot there about the broadening of the availability of capital, you know there are now, pick a number, well in excess of two hundred different debt and equity providers in our market and I have certainly voiced an opinion that we need to be careful because many of those come from the unregulated sector, the emergence of things such as peer to peer lending and crowd funding I think has a role but I am nervous about it having seen various cycles of this industry and what can happen at different times. 

Susan Freeman

In the last few years you have gone plural as they say and you sit on quite a lot of Boards which is why the introduction to this podcast was quite long and I think you have just taken on a new role, can you tell us about it?

Ian Marcus

Well, I can, I’ll come to that.  Yeah, I am a great fatalist, it’s more by luck than judgement I have ended up in the position I am.  I now have the ridiculous number of twelve different jobs, you can describe them as non-exec consultancy advisory and they vary from the Crown Estate and a number of listed companies like Town Centre, Secure Income and Shurgard to start-ups as you and I are working together on Work.Life, to charities and educational roles.  But they all have three characteristics in common and I have tried to adopt as I think about how I want to develop me career, my role, all the way through about those three points and I suppose I wish I had thought about them about forty years ago but they are all intellectually challenging and stimulating, so I am learning every day, they are all with people I like and trust, everyone I am involved in I have known prior to the conversation about “Would you like to become involved”, some of them for twenty or thirty years and I think it’s all about relationships, and the third thing and maybe it should be the first is, they are fun and if it’s not fun when you get to this stage of your career, you probably shouldn’t be doing them.  And the twelfth one just added, and just to say some of the existing ones will be falling off, I have served my time at the Crown you are only allowed to do eight years, I am staying on for a few extra months to help Dan Lebbad sort of settle in to his new role, so that will come away but I have just been appointed as a Senior Advisor to the Anschutz Entertainment Group and, again, look at those three things: different because they are into entertainment, leisure, sports so techtainment being a real trend in real estate at the moment; I have known them for twenty odd years because I have financed and refinanced the O2 Arena for them; and I can’t think of anything more fun than an organisation that owns the LA Lakers, involved in US soccer and is putting on more sporting and music events around the world than anybody. 

Susan Freeman

Sounds like an absolutely ideal role for you.  So, with the various involvements, you must have a really good overview of what’s going on in real estate.  Are there any common topics or a particular topic that is exercising all these boards that you sit on?

Ian Marcus

I am very lucky, one of the roles we haven’t talked about is my role as Senior Advisor or quasi-Chairman of European Chairman of Eastdil Secured, now the only global independent real estate investment bank so, every day I get up in the morning and if I haven’t got a podcast to do or a breakfast to go to, I will head to their offices in Berkeley Square and I have the great privilege of sitting there amongst seventy of the brightest people I have met in the market who are in the flow of what’s going on in the market.  Last year the firm concluded $260 billion of transactions and there is only 400 people worldwide so it’s a unique model but that makes me relevant when I go to these other board meetings.  As an investment banker, you learn to absorb as much information as possible, compartmentalise it, use it but don’t abuse it.  So, I am able to turn up to meetings and talk about capital flows, where debt is pricing, where we see the trends in the market.  I think the three things that are on every Board’s risk list at the moment and are relevant for everyone in our industry more broadly and then we’ll talk about sort of current state of the market, are geopolitical risk, and I’d include as a subset of that, cyber risk as it were, diversity and inclusion, we talked about that… you’ve hinted at that through the conversation about the BPF and the SG and obviously sustainability, climate change, however you want to think about that is very relevant to everyone in our industry and everyone is responding in different ways but they are all having to consider the implications of that.  At the moment, more specifically on what we are seeing in the market is excess of capital at a time when you have… we’ve always referred to it as lower for longer interest rates, one of my colleagues the other day said “Lower forever now”, real estate is an asset, class has it’s appeal in terms of the yield pick up and the longevity and certainty of that income so you are seeing asset allocations from many global investors increased to real estate so the competition for product is increasing at a time when you have billions of dollars of sovereign bonds trading at or around zero if not negative yields the appetite for real estate is only increasing.  The other thing which I think is a, almost a structural change rather than cyclical, is that dare I say Susan, that when you and I started in real estate, it was offices, shops and industrial and now we are talking about all these emerging or alternative asset classes.  And I think more by luck than judgement, if you look at my portfolio, I am involved in, as you said, co-working, senior living, self-storage, entertainment, I think that’s a reflection of where the industry is going, student accommodation, data centres, hospitality are all becoming acceptable asset classes so that’s certainly a trend we are picking up on.

Susan Freeman

Just going back to the BPF, they published a survey last year, a perception survey, which found that only 20% of the general public had a favourable view of the real estate sector.  Now, I don’t know if that surprised you or didn’t but it, you know, with the huge focus on real estate and its importance, that seems, you know, seems rather a shame.  Is it that we are not being, you know, more vocal about getting the good stories across or what should we be doing about it?

Ian Marcus

I am afraid it doesn’t surprise me but it continues to disappoint me, I think throughout my whole involvement in the sector, it’s something we’ve struggled with, there is still this bygone age perception of fat cat developers in the back or Rolls Royces smoking cigars, taking advantage of tenants.  I think the world has moved on but I don’t think we as an industry have done a great job of convincing other stakeholders about the importance and relevance that we have.  If you think about our significance in terms of pension funds and insurance companies, if you think about our role in placemaking, look at today, the announcement today by the Prime Minister that HS2 is going ahead, that’s all about real estate, think about the impact that’s going to have on the nodes where that’s being developed and how it’s going to change the whole infrastructure and contours of the map of the UK.  So, real estate purveys throughout everything we do but we’ve had a terrible task in trying to get that message over.  I think one of the problems in my ad hoc involvement and engagement with Government, the history dictates that as soon as you start talking about real estate, within a nano second they’ll start talking about housing and that’s fine, I understand the significance of housing of course, the social impact that has but also it’s what members of Parliament think about because that’s where the votes are, there aren’t many votes in real estate but it’s an easy industry to tax very aggressively as we’ve seen.  So, yes we have a bit of a problem with branding, it’s very difficult, there aren’t many real estate companies that actually have a brand but I think we should talk about our successes more overtly and more aggressively, take something such as King’s Cross, fifteen years ago we probably wouldn’t have even driven through there let alone walk through there, now you have in my humble opinion the best regeneration project in Europe.  Look at the impact, love it or hate it, that Canary Wharf has had and now other parts of London whether that be Paddington or Earl’s Court now under Delancey’s ownership will come forward, Nine Elms etcetera, and the impact that Crossrail will have on developing London further.  So, I think we need to shout from the rooftops about our successes.  One little quick story from my time back at the BPF, I remember we did a similar survey of MPs and we asked them to, as a straw poll, to name someone they knew in the real estate industry and this is the ’90s, so they may have said Sir Stuart Lipton, Sir John Ritblat, they may have said Richard Rogers, somebody who would you’d think have an impact, the most votes went to a gentleman called Nick van Hoogstraten who was a property developer from Brighton who had just been arrested for murder and that sort of… I have always felt that’s how, you know, politician’s think of us a little bit so we do have some work to do. 

Susan Freeman

We do and I would like to see a brand refresh for the property sector, I think it’s the only way to do it.  And you mentioned diversity and discrimination and despite everything the industry has tried to do over the period that you and I have been working in it, we still seem to have an issue.  Is there more that we should be doing?

Ian Marcus

Oh, there’s always more we should be doing and I think we are making strides, it’s small steps, I think organisations such as Real Estate Balance and others have done a great job in promoting the reasons and the necessity for this and many people have described me as a dinosaur and what do I know about all this stuff but I have really engaged with this with genuine sincerity and what I have suddenly learnt is, actually it’s not about gender, it’s not about colour, it’s not about sexual orientation, it’s just about having around that Board table, around the management group, diversity of thought and I think that’s something we really do have to think about hard.  Although I am very proud to be a Cambridge alumni and I am currently President of the Cambridge University Land Society, I have been involved with an intend to get increasingly involved in something that Reading are doing called Pathways to Property and I think that is a very innovative scheme which really deserves a lot of credit and I would encourage more people in the industry to get involved in because what it’s trying to do is reach out to the those from different socioeconomic groups and from deprived backgrounds, young adults that have a real interest in real estate and yet have no opportunity, and so every year they do a summer school and members of the industry, like us, go down there and mentor them, spend time with them, they present to us and it’s really a very, both enjoyable and satisfying to see the enthusiasm they have.  Now, the problem is, whether it be gender or whether it be that sort of socioeconomic diversity, it’s going to take a generation and we have to recognise that.  It’s fairly easy to fix, you know, you want diversity on the Board, I’ll go and appoint a female or an ethnic member of the Board and you can prove your numbers are right.  It’s going to take a lot longer for those other changes to come through the industry and I think all of us have a responsibility to try and make sure we broaden the net and appeal of our industry to that wider community. 

Susan Freeman

On a slightly different subject, you are known as the ultimate networker in the real estate sector.  How did that skill develop and do you think it’s something that you can teach younger people coming into the industry?

Ian Marcus

That’s very nice of you to say so, I think it takes one to know one, you are not bad at it yourself.  I don’t know, I have never thought of it as a particular skill, I think it’s, when you are in a service industry and I have been a service provider my entire career, it’s about building relationships, I think the whole of our industry we focus on location and we focus on timing and we focus on capital but actually all gets down to people and I think my job as a banker, as an advisor, whatever, is to build relationships and to build trust with people, there are lots of individuals who can execute what a banker, a lawyer, an accountant, a surveyor does and I remember the late great Ian Coull saying to me, he said “There’s three reasons why I appoint someone” he said, “Firstly, because they are the cheapest” and that’s no different to if you want to do your shopping at Aldi or Lidl versus Waitrose, a commodity product, “Secondly, because you’ve come up with something innovative that no one else has and you’ve solved a problem for me, at which point I am sort of pricing elastic, and the third thing is because I like you” and I said “Well what do you mean by that?” and he said “Well look, if we are doing a largescale M&A transaction or a fundraising or an IPO, I am going to be spending a lot of my waking hours with you, it might be helpful if I actually enjoyed your company” and it’s our job as service providers to adapt to who the person on the other side of the table is but it’s about the common courtesy, actually yes it’s about you want to do the deal but there is a motto the Chairman and Founder of Eastdil Secured has a wonderful motto, he says “It’s about decades, not deals” and you can learn a lot from that and I’ll give you a specific example, I won’t mention who but a young analyst at Eastdil I had a conversation with the other day, I said to him “Oh have you spoken to so and so about such a deal”, he said “No, I emailed him and the answer was no”.  I said “Well, why didn’t you call him?”  He said, “What difference would that have made?” and I said “Probably none, however, if you had phoned him you would have understood why the answer was no, was it something specific about the transaction, was it something more deep rooted in what they want to do, was it just a timing issue?  You will find out not only what they don’t want to do but what they do want to do, you’ll get to know him, you’ll talk about which football he supports, which film he saw last week, where he’s going on holiday and then you might invite him out for a cup of coffee and get to know him because in five to ten years’ time you two are going to be running this industry.  That’s how you build relationships” and he looked at me totally blankly but gradually the message will get through and maybe that’s a millennials versus, you know, my era thing but emphasising the importance to the next generation of relationships and you can call it networking, it’s just how business is done in my mind no matter how technology will help us and speed things up, it actually gets down to people. 

Susan Freeman

I’ve got a great idea.  How about you and I run a networking course?

Ian Marcus

Well, I don’t know what I’d teach, I mean it’s I suppose a lot of it for you and I is instinctive. 

Susan Freeman

No, I mean what you said is really interesting and it’s not something, you think it’s obvious but for a lot of people it isn’t.  So, my final question to you is basically, you know, what is the next challenge but actually I know what the next challenge is because this evening we are both going to be at the Young Norwood Property Awards Dinner and hopefully handing out some awards so, that probably won’t be terribly challenging for you but…

Ian Marcus

Well, it is, I mean keeping four hundred younger members of the real estate community focussed for four hours when food and drink is flowing may be slightly challenging but hopefully we’ll get through it and there will be some very worthy winners of awards and hopefully these are the stars of the future.  My next task is a very simple one, one to get back into my house which we are refurbishing at the moment and secondly, spending more time with my four adorable grandchildren.  As I keep being reminded, that’s the real priority that I should focus on. 

Susan Freeman

That’s a great note to end on.  Ian, thank you very much. 

Ian Marcus

Great pleasure, thank you very much.

Susan Freeman

Huge thanks to Ian Marcus for some fascinating insights from the man who really does know everyone in real estate and has been instrumental in putting together so many of our landmark real estate deals, and some great advice on networking.  So, that’s it for now, I really hope you enjoyed today’s conversation.  Please join us for the next PropertyShe podcast interview coming very shortly. 

The Propertyshe podcast is brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum and can be found at Mishcon.com/PropertyShe along with all our interviews and programme notes.  The podcasts are also available to subscribe to on your Apple podcast app, the purple button on your iPhone and on Spotify and whatever podcast app you use.  Do continue to let us have your feedback and comments and most importantly suggestions for future guests and of course you can continue to follow me on Twitter @Propertyshe for a very regular commentary on all things real estate Prop Tech and the built environment.

Ian graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1981 with a degree in Land Economy. Ian was in the banking industry for over 32 years having previously worked for Bank of America, UBS, NatWest and Bankers Trust/Deutsche, always focusing on the real estate industry. Ian joined Credit Suisse First Boston in 1999 to establish the Real Estate Group, and became Managing Director and Chairman of the European Real Estate Investment Banking.

Ian is a Trustee of the Prince’s Foundation, a Crown Estate Commissioner, a member of Redevco’s Advisory Board, the Senior Independent Director for both Secure Income REIT and Shurgard Self Storage, and a Non Executive Director for Town Centre Securities Plc. He was appointed as a Senior Consultant to Eastdil Secured in 2013. He is also President of the Cambridge University Land Society and a Senior Advisor to the two new Businesses, Work Life and Elysian Residences. Ian is also a past President of the British Property Federation, past Chairman of the Investment Property Forum and for 10 years chaired the Bank of England Commercial Property Forum.

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