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The only tool Asset Managers need

Cheng Peng

Arnaud Broussou, President of Colliers Global Investors France, shares why he chose SONEKA, and how the solution has helped his teams work more efficiently and simplify their reportings.

Could you introduce Colliers Global Investors?

Colliers Global Investors is an investment and asset management company that creates its own funds and opens them up to professional investors. It also works on behalf of third parties, historically with mandates from large French institutions on very "core" assets: office, retail and residential. In recent months, we have opened up our activity and tried to expand into areas that are a little more "value-added". We currently have exclusive rights to several small inner-city projects with an international clientele, which we are trying to develop thanks to the Colliers Group and our connections. So, we're moving away from this very French institutional dimension to go and see an international clientele, and a little more "value-added". 

Could you explain what you do?

I joined Colliers Global Investors at the end of 2019, at the right time, just before the Covid crisis, to try to develop asset management for third parties and investment in these structures, which were of a more modest size, since there are 4.5 billion assets under management today.

What was your need?

So my need... first as an Asset Manager and now as the head of Colliers Global Investors, was to finally have a tool for the Asset Manager. Because the asset manager has always had to make do with Excel, Powerpoint, an in-house cash flow that was made with macros, or with old-fashioned cash flow tools that did not necessarily meet his needs. No one had proposed a sufficiently integrated solution.

Why did you choose SONEKA?

The advantage of SONEKA is that it meets the first need, which was to have a single tool for reporting, cash flow and the daily life of the building: whether it be the multi-year work plans, lease negotiations or rental statements.

And, above all, the Asset Manager, in his function of managing the building, spends more than 50% of his time behind his desk doing reports in all directions. Depending on the client, different reporting is sometimes required and this was always passed on to the Asset Manager.

The interest I have found in the SONEKA solution in this respect is that I have my asset managers who now all work in the same way, and that we adapt the automatic generation of the reporting according to the investors' requirements.

The fact that we have a single asset management tool allows us to centralize data at all levels of the company, whether it be at the level of the fund managers, the project managers who work on the projects, the asset managers or even the directors. Having access to the data in one place also makes it possible to verify the data much more, because it is the same data that is scrutinized.

In my career, I have experienced times when we have: a rental report from the property manager, a rental report from the asset managers, a rental report from the fund manager, a rental report from the person in charge of valuations, which he sends to the valuers. When there are four pieces of data, there can be four wrong pieces of data. Whereas there is only one, it is constantly checked, it is constantly scrutinized, so it leaves less room for error.

The automatic generation of reports, as I said, is extremely important because it allows the asset manager to position himself where he creates the real value (and that's his job!): in the field with the tenants, with the property managers, in the building, visiting the competition around it, and that's what is fundamental.

Even more so today with the return to a market that is not as simple as it was a few months or weeks ago, because before Covid, some of my friends who are not in real estate tended to say: "You just have to buy the building, between the promise and the deed it has increased in value anyway: what is the point of your job? ". Today, I think that we have seen a return of the risk premium, and being on the ground alongside the tenants, and alongside the people who make the life of the building possible, is even more fundamental than it was before.

I've been in both roles: as an asset manager, I moved to fund management, and then I changed my mind again to return to asset management. And it's true that the fact that a Fund Manager can have his automatic consolidations asset by asset, whatever the perimeter, because you can mix office, commercial and residential, where you had professionally this intuition that you had to go and ask such and such a question, with SONEKA, you have a consolidation matrix of all the assets that you're in charge of, with automatic alerts or tables, scorecards that allow us to see what the major deadlines are for leases, for example, the major deadlines for leases, and to ask judicious and relevant questions to the Asset Manager, during a meeting with him or her, or, and this is another feature I find interesting, directly in the tool. Rather than sending an email to ask a question, you ask the question directly in the tool, in what I call the news feed. We are in professions that experience a lot of turnover, whether it be at the level of fund managers or asset managers, so being able to trace these questions and answers is extremely important.

So there you have it, this fusion of a tool for Asset Managers, easier management of reports, centralized data, and this transparency game that allows us to give access to our tool, either to Fund Managers, or even to external clients. We have a tool that meets all our needs.

And I would add one thing that was very important to us: SONEKA does not belong to a major player in the market that has invested billions in its development. It is a young start-up that was founded by people who know my job, who have practised my job, and with whom we can discuss and find ways of developing together. So I'll add the fifth point that interested us was this malleable aspect, to be able to develop the solution, and to have the response of the SONEKA teams.

I can give you an example: today we manage the management of our acquisition pipeline in the SONEKA tool, because the team has developed a dedicated module with us, and rather than still having the famous Excel file that we send to each other every Friday to have the discussion on Monday, well everyone has access to this pipeline, and we can monitor it and decide whether or not to switch the asset to acquisition. So we also use this tool, and it is developing with us in new functions.

How is the relationship with the SOENKA team on a daily basis?

The relationship is very good, they are available. They have reasoned in the same way as we reason: we have a Fund Manager who is responsible for a client, who is the single point of entry for this client with us, and this Fund Manager acts as an internal client for the teams, whether it be legal, Project Management or Asset Management.

SONEKA has done the same thing: we have a key account manager who manages all of our solutions, whom we have had on the phone almost every day, and it goes extremely well.

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