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How Do You Spell A-s-s-e-t M-a-n-a-g-e-r?

April 20, 2017 | John Salustri

Having spent so much time in publishing, it seems that the role that is the most mysterious is that of managing editor. Of all the titles in the food chain, that one seems to vary the most as you move from house to house. There is a standard definition of what a managing editor should do, but that’s kind of like learning Italian. The pure standard you learn in school isn’t what people really speak, since it changes slightly from region to region. So it seems to be for asset management, and the shifts in the role, beyond a few basic common skillsets, are founded in the specialized needs of the organization.

At least that’s one of my takeaways from Dustin Reed, Ph.D. and his report, Real Estate Asset Management, A Process and a Profession. Just as there are needs-based variations in the role of managing editor, so too does the definition of what an asset manager does—and therefore the skillsets of new hires—change from organization to organization.

“For example,” Reed writes, “some firms hire asset managers with strong analytical skills because they need to augment departments already replete with experience in real estate operations. Others seek out asset managers with an understanding of value-add or opportunistic investment strategies to round out staffs more familiar with core or core-plus assets. Still others retain the services of asset managers because they have worked with specific real estate asset types...”

There is a common thread, says Reed, one best captured by one of the respondents to the survey that formed the basis of the book: “Asset managers have only two jobs. Maximizing value and minimizing risk. Everything they do is tied to one of those two things, but how they do it depends on the property, the client and the investment strategy.”

With that as a baseline, there are talents, both personal and professional, that, Reed says, best fit those dual needs. These also define, at least in part, how far a practitioner will advance in the field. They include a strong financial acumen, effective communication skills, motivational capabilities and decisiveness. “These attributes were perceived to influence asset managers’ success no matter their job descriptions, day-to-day professional responsibilities or types of companies for which they worked,” he writes.

Interestingly, those traits are the skillsets of a leader, whether it be asset management or property management or managing editor or plug in the profession. There has been a lot written about the dramatic changes that are taking place in the property management field and how asset and property management, while remaining separate careers, are joined in an ever-tighter union. (In fact, I have written a lot on that myself.)

But, as Reed’s list implies, it’s clear that despite the changes, certain essentials remain in place, and are never-changing. Good leadership is good leadership.

Purchase the complete report Real Estate Asset Management, A Process and a Profession.

About the Author
John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM’s website. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of, the industry’s premier real estate news website, where he managed the daily output of 25 international reporters, and prior to that, he was editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine. John is a four-time winner of the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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