Joost Groeneveld, IPD’s new head of Canadian Services, has been given a mandate to grow the research and data services, as well as to arm its growing client base with custom-tailored information products to allow them to make better investments.
“I’m here to be more closely engaged with our clients and the market place,” said Groeneveld, who came to the Toronto office last month from IPD’s main North American office in Chicago. That 18-person office will continue to support his Canadian outpost.
Just how many people can IPD ultimately employee in Canada? Groeneveld points to the very similar Dutch market, which is home to 25 full-time IPD staff, as an example of what the business here could develop into.
“It all depends on how rapidly we grow the business. In the near term it will be more focused on business development and sales with support on the more operational side – because this is a very data intensive job that we do – out of the Chicago office.”
Groeneveld replaced Doug Rowlands at the helm of the Canadian operations. Rowlands is now with IPD’s head office in London where he is charge of the company’s multinational team and oversees client management and service delivery for global and international clients.
What’s in store for Canada
Under his direction, Groeneveld expects IPD Canada clients will have greater access to global best practices with regards to commercial real estate analytics and improved array of information beyond the familiar REALpac / IPD Canada Property Index. “In many other markets we have a lot of other data points that we provide for the marketplace and that is something that we are keen to work on.”
In terms of custom benchmark data solutions for clients, Groeneveld points to organizations interested in moving capital abroad for real estate investments where IPD already has market coverage. “But also I think there are a lot of pension plans and also REITs out there that might benefit from our services.”
Groeneveld noted that most Canadian players in the real estate market are familiar with the IPD index but are not so well aware of the portfolio analysis service that IPD provides to organizations as part of their subscription. “It actually allows them to understand what is driving the performance in their portfolios and I think more recently with the downturn and the strong (industry wide) performance in the last few years, there is a divergence of performance in a lot of the portfolios that we track. I think a lot of managers are keen to understand how they differ from the overall benchmark.”
A tale of two markets
Having been immersed in the U.S. market through good times and bad, Groeneveld views the Canadian real estate industry through fresh eyes. “The U.S. market is very much involved around investment managers, professional organizations who have funds, a lot of the large pension plans would invest through those organizations either through a co-mingled open-end pooled fund or a separate account mandate.
“Whereas here in Canada you have the large organizations managing either everything in-house themselves or have an ownership of the managers 100 per cent, like Teachers with Cadillac Fairview and OMERs with Oxford, etc.”
Groeneveld has seen more interest in international real estate investment generally as well as in Canada as a country. “The larger organizations that are out there, the sovereign funds in the Middle East and Asia, etc. are building up global portfolios and trying to make sense of what the global landscape is and within that they are definitely seeing the performance come through on the Canadian marketplace using some of the data that we have,” he said. “That is for them kind of a reason to understand why Canada has done so well compared to other markets, especially more recently.”
IPD has identified Canada’s strength as a property market. It recently compared 60 global cities (which included Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal), a research exercise that placed Calgary at the top. As well IPD identified Canada as the best performing property market for 2011, out of 24 major western markets surveyed.
A real estate information giant
IPD, which stands for Investment Property Databank, is a global information business, dedicated to the objective, independent measurement of commercial real estate performance for investment managers and investors. To ensure its independence, IPD is not a player in real estate investment markets and does not offer consultancy advice on investment decisions or other real estate issues.