Attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent has become an increasingly challenging prospect for companies across the country. That’s being exacerbated by a strong economy, fueled by a recovery nearly a decade in the making, and an unemployment rate that’s holding steady at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low.
The commercial real estate sector is not immune from the perils facing. Poline Associates, a commercial real estate recruiting firm, found that the average age of CRE professionals is increasing. But as baby boomers and their silent generation parents retire, those holes aren’t being filled as quickly across the country, by Gen X or Millennials.
Poline notes that CRE careers often don’t make the top of the career list in post-education careers. Part of the problem is the career requirements of young professionals are different than predecessors. While they find large commission splits and bonuses appealing, many Millennials tend to gravitate to jobs with more income security versus the potential for higher income. Further, some Millennials want to put their technical skills used in college to work, and don’t see how they can do this in CRE. Also, college is expensive and getting more so. Starting a career on commission base pay doesn’t solve their pressing need for an immediate income to pay off college loans. However, for those who see the extraordinary opportunities that exist in the industry and succeed, the income potential is very lucrative, as are the unique benefits that come from being an independent contractor.
“Recruiting today is different than ever before,” says Kidder Mathews’ Robert G. Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, Executive Vice President and Partner in Los Angeles. “Observe the landscape. There is a younger generation of entrepreneurs and real estate professionals who look at things differently. Those leaving the workforce didn’t rely as heavily on the web or investing time, energy and resources thinking about search capabilities and their digital presence. But this new group does.”
The commercial real estate industry continues to evolve, and those shifts require smart, savvy professionals who know how to meet client needs, and are equipped to capture emerging market opportunities. People are the foundation of that process – both from a client trusting who to engage for an assignment and brokers finding and executing a deal. Given the vast amount of information and technology available, along with the tight labor market, Kidder Mathews observes is increasingly crucial to match broker talent, skill sets and experience to an assignment – whether a lease, acquisition or development project.
Client requirements keep changing and not all brokerage firms are alike. “The very best companies attracting top talent are doing so by being decidedly different – it starts with having a broad, bold approach to transformation. What was done yesterday must be done better today” says Thornburgh. Building a team and putting the right people in place requires a strategic approach to determine what business lines to build, where to expand, what team and commission structures are most appealing, and what resources, including people, are required.
People set companies apart since that’s who clients work with on developing a strategy, finding solutions or executing transactions. Those firms stocked with straight-shooting brokers who bring high degrees of integrity and honesty tend to be most valued by clients, and ironically are places where other high-achieving performers prefer to work too.
Kidder Mathews has emerged as a regionally dominant brokerage house built on an entrepreneurial environment where its brokers bring an impeccable work ethic and pay close personal attention to their deals – as well as the larger market. Creating a platform that allows brokers the freedom to be creative in the process is a significant advantage for the firm, says Brian Hatcher, an Executive Vice President at Kidder Mathews’ who’s been with the firm for more than 25 years and heads up the brokerage division in the Pacific Northwest region.
Kidder Mathews is employee-owned, and without corporate bureaucracy, brokers have the freedom to perform at their highest level, which ultimately allows them to play a larger part in the success of the company. The company offers an “unheard of 90/10 commission structure,” says Hatcher. “We provide great splits for brokers and for those who want to run their own business, there are less corporate responsibilities. We believe it is more about the people and letting them keep more of the money they make. We’ve found the magic potion, and we must be doing something right because we’ve doubled in size in the last 10 years.”
The company expanded into Southern California last year and is recently moving into the Southwest markets. A big part of that growth is fueled by the people who’ve joined the firm who are driven by ambition. Kidder Mathews has a reputation for hiring the best principal-type entrepreneurial talent in new and established markets.
“Certain people rise,” says Hatcher. “It is hard to wake up every morning and cold call, get hung up on and then eventually win the business. The competition to win an assignment is stiff. Then once you do, you have to separate yourself from the competition by being really good, knowing what you are talking about and gain a clients’ trust to handle their assignment in whatever shape or form it takes.”
Hatcher says, closing deals today requires both a senior-level of experience on the broker side, not to mention few if any, bureaucratic hurdles. It is a powerful combination to bring together the resources and reach of a larger firm, with the local expertise of senior brokers native to a market.
That non-corporate infrastructure and elimination of unnecessary processes is a strength of the firm. It helps promote entrepreneurialism and fosters a nimble, solution-oriented mentality that’s acutely focused and proactive surrounding new opportunities. That approach works for brokers and clients appreciate it too because Kidder Mathews delivers all the services of a national firm without the clunky or slow reacting process typically found in large corporate environments. And without corporate politics swirling around the office, brokers aren’t distracted from providing the best service to their clients.
While that may be innovative compared to others in the industry, it has long been a foundation of Kidder Mathews’ success. The company was built upon a compelling strategic vision and focus on continual improvement. That ability to think on a long-term basis, a desire to exemplify excellence, and the consistent ability to convert challenges into opportunities attracts brokers and clients to such a forward-thinking, visionary team.
Clients find the firm’s platform offers the best of all worlds – a broker partner that’s small enough to take care of its people, but capable of handling larger assignments, says Hatcher. Kidder Mathews platform, culture, administrative support, systems infrastructure, and positive deal-making environment adds up to a compelling opportunity for top performers, and ultimately, that’s exactly what clients seek.