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Four Types of Real Estate Asset Managers

March 07, 2017 | Ron Gjerde

IREM’s research report, Real Estate Asset Management: A Process and A Profession, helps to demystify asset management by summarizing the results of over 90 interviews conducted with real estate practitioners familiar with asset management as both a process and as a profession.

The research shows that asset management functions can be delegated to a number of different parties in a number of different ways depending upon the structure, culture and strategic objectives of a given real estate firm. Some individuals holding asset management titles engage in all of these activities and have considerable autonomy to make property-level decisions. Other asset managers have much narrower job descriptions and far less discretion. These differences have made it difficult to define asset management as a profession in universally accepted terms.

While there might not be a single definition for an asset manager, the research does suggest that four common approaches to asset management exist throughout the real estate industry, which are distinguishable based on the amount of attention devoted to financial management relative to human resource management.

  • Analytical asset managers have strong quantitative backgrounds and primarily view their work as that of data analysis, financial modeling and surveillance, as opposed to that of leading a team of leasing agents and property managers.
  • Operational asset managers tend to come from property management backgrounds and prioritize collaboration with onsite personnel as a means of improving performance and enhancing tenant relations.
  • Transactional asset managers limit the amount of time they spend on both financial analysis and property management issues in favor of interacting with the brokerage community, negotiating leases and setting rents in an effort to drive revenue growth.
  • Comprehensive asset managers simultaneously have strong financial management and human resource management skills that allow them to participate in all of the aforementioned activities at a high level and make strategic decisions.

This typology sheds light on the skills required for success in different types of asset management positions, while also offering insight as to how different companies source and develop talent.

To find out more about the research results, check out Real Estate Asset Management: A Process and A Profession.

About the Author
Ron Gjerde is Vice President, Knowledge Center for the Institute of Real Estate Management. Ron oversees the production of IREM’s magazine, the Journal of Property Management, and the development of numerous text books and publications on real estate management. He also oversees government affairs and the Income/Expense program.

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