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FG spends N2.7tn on infrastructure in three years

The Federal Government has invested about N2.7tn in infrastructure in the last three years, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ms Imeh Okon, has said.

Speaking on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State during a High-Level Stakeholders Retreat on Public-Private Partnership, Okon said the government went back to the 25 years Master Plan on infrastructure development through Public Private Partnership.

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“The Federal Government has invested N2.7tn in infrastructure in the last three years and as you can see, some of the dividends have been the N100bn that we have injected into rail projects.

“What we have done as a government is to go back to the 25 years master plan on the rail sector. What you are seeing right now in terms of rail infrastructure is as a result of the master plan that was on the ground,” Okon said.

She, however, said over-dependence on oil revenue had been a great challenge to the government as a result of instability in the prices of oil in the last four years.

According to her, the challenge has necessitated “the partnership with the private sector to develop most of our priority infrastructure projects.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Mr Chidi Izuwah, said the partnership would enhance economic prosperity, development and growth.

He gave the assurance that the Ibom Deep Seaport, when completed, would decongest the Lagos seaports.

“Ibom Deep Seaport is a PPP project that is going to bring $2.5bn of investment and change the landscape of infrastructure in the country.

“It will have solutions to traffic congestion in the Lagos ports because those goods that normally go to Lagos will come here. This has been done in partnership with the ICRC.

“I can assure you that before April, the contract for Ibom Deep Seaport will be signed and the approved consortium will start immediately.”
Source: Patrick Odey

NRC demolishes 3500 houses to pave way for Lagos-Ibadan railway construction

About 3,500 public and private buildings have been demolished in Lagos, Ogun State corridor, as management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) continues to demolish buildings to pave right of way for laying of tracks in the ongoing construction of Lagos to Ibadan Standard gauge railway line.

100 corpses have been exhumed by siblings of deceased owners who had earlier vowed that railway line would never pass over their parent’s grave.

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As at yesterday, it was observed that bulldozers were demolishing houses at Lagos Agege railway station and its environ amidst a crowd of onlookers muttering various words.

It was gathered that prior to the demolition exercise, owners of buildings affected were paid compensation based on value of their various houses after assessment of their documentation by Valuers appointed by NRC.

According to reliable sources, Landlords who could not provide valid documents but have built structures on railway land were paid N1.6 million while those who provided valid documents of lease from the Corporation were paid various amount as compensation ranging from N3 million to N5 million and N10 million each depending on value of their building.

One of the aged Landlord whose building was demolished but could not find the documents that gave him lease to build structure on the land at Agbado Mr. Ismail Ojo commended government for deeming it fit to pay him N1.6 million especially now that things are difficult.

“I thank government for the compensation because where do you think I could have found N1.6 million to relocate especially now that my grown up Children are living from hand to mouth,” he said

12 mortgage power players to watch in 2019

Hugh Frater, Fannie Mae and David Brickman, Freddie Mac

What they do: Interim CEO of Fannie Mae; President of Freddie Mac

What to watch for in 2019: The CEOs of both GSEs announced in mid-2018 their impending departure from their respective posts. Brickman was promoted to president of Freddie Mac in September, and is an internal candidate forsucceeding Donald Layton when he leaves in the second half of 2019. Frater is the interim CEO at Fannie Mae, taking over for Tim Mayopoulos, who stepped down in late October.

The Trump administration has hinted at finally taking steps toward GSE reform, potentially removing Fannie and Freddie from conservatorship. But it appears there won’t be much progress until the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency is appointed.

Why it matters: The challenges facing whoever takes over Fannie and Freddie will be very different than what Mayopoulos and Layton inherited in 2012. While both GSEs remain under federal conservatorship, they are in a much stronger financial position. Still, there is considerable uncertainty about their future, and the oversight structure constrains the CEOs from shaping the GSEs’ destinies.

Robert Broeksmit, Mortgage Bankers Association

What he does: President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association

What to watch for in 2019: “Bob” Broeksmit took over as president and CEO of the MBA in August, succeeding David Stevens. Can he keep the positive momentum of his predecessor going amid significant industry shifts? How will the trade group pivot its lobbying with a divided Congress? Will he ever join Twitter?

Why it matters: The MBA’s political action committee raised a record $2.1 million during the 2016-2018 election cycle, including $1.2 million in 2018 alone. That may prove valuable as the industry is bracing for considerable consolidation amid tight margins and low volume, which may pose challenges for the MBA’s membership, fundraising and lobbying efforts.

Kristy Fercho, Flagstar

What she does: President of mortgage at Flagstar Bank

What to watch for in 2019: Fercho came aboard Flagstar as executive vice president and president of mortgage in 2017. In June, Flagstar bought 52 branches of Wells Fargo in an effort to grow their retail mortgage presence and reduce their reliance on third-party originations. In August, the Fed lifted its regulatory order, freeing it for more activity and corporate functionality.

Why it matters: Origination volume is expected to continue facing difficulties. Seeing how Flagstar will navigate the market and handle its mortgage business will be interesting. Flagstar’s been issuing their own RMBS deals and will have more freedom in 2019.

Bruce Gross, Laura Escobar and Tom Fischer, Lennar Financial Services

What they do: CEO of Lennar Financial Services; President of Eagle Home Mortgage; President of North American Title Group

What to watch for in 2019: The lender market is condensing. Will Lennar look to make any more acquisitions to offset its shrinking mortgage margins?

Why it matters: The Lennar Financial Services umbrella provides everything for the homebuying process including title, mortgage and closing services. One-stop shops are becoming the trend as more mortgage companies face problems making profit.

Erin Lantz, Zillow

What she does: Head of Mortgage at Zillow

What to watch for in 2019: Lantz plays a critical role in directing strategy and execution. How will she help traverse the mortgage part of the business through the dark housing outlook for 2019?

Why it matters: Zillow Group transformed itself into a digital brand conglomerate of renting, buying, selling, financing, home improvement and data.

Brian Montgomery, FHA

What he does: Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration

What to watch for in 2019: The FHA is expected to take steps to streamline FHA servicing requirements to align with industry practices. Montgomery has also said the FHA is considering extending the multifamily risk-sharing program.

What’s less certain is whether the FHA will heed industry calls to cut its mortgage insurance premium. Also unclear is how long Montgomery will serve as the acting No. 2 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Why it matters: The GSEs’ 3% down payment loan programs have created new competition for first-time homebuyers, particularly given the high cost of FHA mortgage insurance. The multifamily risk-sharing program supports affordable housing development and allows state housing finance agencies to underwrite multifamily loans. HUD shares the effort of increasing the affordable housing supply, as well as aiding homelessness, enforcing fair housing laws, and disaster response.

Michael Nierenberg, New Residential

What he does: Board Chairman and CEO of New Residential

What to watch for in 2019: Under Nierenberg’s leadership, New Residential has become one of the most aggressive investors of mortgage-servicing rights. As themarket for MSRs becomes more active, look for the real estate investment trust to make opportunistic plays to build its portfolio — particularly given its recent $433 million stock offering.

Why it matters: Nonbank mortgage servicers must gear up to meet new secondary market requirements and make some tough decisions about whether to buy, sell or hold MSRs as they head into 2019.

Eric Schuppenhauer, Citizens Bank

What he does: President of Home Mortgage, Citizens Bank

What to watch for in 2019: After acquiring Franklin American Mortgage, Citizens Bank extended its base of customers and loan growth while boosting its earnings.

Why it matters: With the nonbank market share of mortgages rising, Citizens appears poised to make a contrarian play among bank mortgage lenders and expand its loan offerings.

Eric Stoddard, Wells Fargo Funding

What he does: Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo Funding

What to watch for in 2019: Stoddard oversees Wells Fargo’s massive correspondent mortgage channel, the largest aggregator of closed loans originated primarily by independent mortgage banks. Wells Fargo’s recent move to start acquiring electronic notes from its correspondents could be a watershed moment for the electronic mortgage movement.
What’s more, Wells Fargo’s correspondent channel may become an increasingly important aspect of its overall mortgage strategy, given the bank’s plans toseverely reduce its workforce over the next three years.

Why it matters: Small and midsize lenders often cite investor acceptance as one of the biggest impediments to e-mortgage adoption. With the largest correspondent aggregator — not to mention both GSEs — all buying e-notes, that obstacle is becoming increasingly less severe.

Source:

N100bn Sukuk Fund Released by FG For 28 Road Contracts

Federal Government on Thursday announced a list of 28 road contracts that will benefit from the N100 billion Sukuk bond issued in December 2018 by Debt Management Office (DMO).

Each of the six geopolitical zones will each benefit N16.7 billion to fund identified sections of critically important road projects.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed presented a dummy of the N100 billion cheque to Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola at a ceremony held inside the auditorium of Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja.

Speaking in an opening remark, Ahmed recalled that offer was oversubscribed to the tune of N132.2 billion or 132.2%.

“The offer was opened to the general public and subscriptions were received from a wide range of investors: retail investors, pension fund administrators, deposit money banks, fund managers and non-bank financial institutions and other institutional investors.”

She explained the significant increase in the level of participation by retail investors from about four per cent in the debut issuance in 2017 to 17.33 per cent in 2018 means that the objectives of financial inclusion and deepening of the investor base of FGN Securities are gradually being achieved.

A total of 1876 retail investors participated in the December 2018 Sukuk Issuance.

The Sukuk funding option she continued, is part of the initiatives of the government to diversify government funding sources, while also deepening the Nigerian capital market, mobilising more savings and promoting financial inclusion.

Responding, Fashola described the impact of sukuk as one of the important things in terms of nation building, job creation, growth and employment.

“I want to say again that there is no nation that I know of that has gone unto greatness without building. from 1929, the new deal in America from 1940’s the marshal plan in Europe, in our own very generation. The massive construction in Asia particularly China and the middle east.

So Nigeria is going through something similar but perhaps in very challenging times. We missed this opportunity when we had multi-dollar income, $100 per barrel of oil and we did not invest it on infrastructure.

“This administration is committed to follow the part of greatness, build the foundation for tomorrow by investing in infrastructure but what does that do?

“It means that for example we have to raise money and I am very happy to learn that over 1,876 investors are already doing business because Buhari government decides to build.

“That is how to build an economy; roads are coming, those are assets that would enable business that would enable transport, movement of goods and services and assets that will last 25, 30 to 40 years.

“This is a good investment to make.

“As soon as I collect this cheque, i am going to give it to the contractors but even they can’t keep it, they have to give it to their suppliers because they need aggregates, they need materials and labourers but they first need suppliers.”

Six projects will benefit from the North Central, five from the North East, four from the North West, four from the South East, six from the South-South and the remaining three from the South West Zone.

Research finds landlords are treated more favourably than leaseholders

Landlords are treated more favourably than leaseholders in Britain, according to legal executives but they are warning that while the balance needs to change, reform should not discourage property investment.

The current law disadvantages leaseholders, and in its response to a consultation by the Law Commission, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, says while change is needed, it needs to be done in an even handed way so that it does not discourage people from becoming landlords in the first place.

CILEx reveals that 76% of its members surveyed believe that landlords are treated more favourably than leaseholders under the current regime but it says this down not mean that there should be a one size fits all approach which would unrealistically group together various land arrangements with differing rights and interests to consider.

The report also says that enfranchisement reforms must take into consideration concurrent reforms within the leasehold and wider housing sector to ensure reforms are dovetailed together and that leaseholders of houses should have the right to longer lease extensions as the current 50 year period is no longer fit for purpose.

It adds that landlord rights to repossession for the purposes of redevelopment should be limited to the end portion of a lease, and supplemented with a mandatory notice period that provides sufficient time for leaseholders to reorganise their affairs.

It also suggests that the concurrent jurisdiction of both the tribunal and county courts to deal with enfranchisement related disputes should be reformed as it has led to added costs, time delays and exploitation of legal process while a single valuation expert would be useful in solving valuation disputes outside of the tribunal.

‘Our members showed caution against grouping landlords together into one overarching category, overlooking the existence of individual landlords and small to medium sized enterprises who do not pose the same risks as their larger counterparts,’ says the response report.

Indeed, some members were concerned that, if this were to happen, there would be a risk of removing all incentives for becoming a landlord, which in turn could have major repercussions on the housing market and wider leasehold sector.

CILEx argues that reform should not limit the freedom of parties to negotiate the terms of their enfranchisement in a bid to solve the underlying inequalities of arms between landlords and leaseholders, and eagerly awaits reforms to home buying and selling along with unfair terms in residential leasehold to remedy this matter.

The response highlighted the importance of improving consumer awareness of costs and processes within the enfranchisement regime, and providing clearer information to frontline practitioners on how the multitude of ongoing leasehold reforms shall interact and be prioritised.

‘We acknowledge the efforts of different agencies, including the Law Commission, to address the concern that leaseholders are at a disadvantage in the current system, but reform must not be piecemeal or fragmented,’ said Philip Sherwood, CILEx president.

‘The Law Commission consultation represents a good start to levelling the playing field and ensuring that leaseholders can assert their rights against unfair landlords,’ he added.

ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO

Emeka, his wife Funke and their daughter Zainab lost their home in Urualla to gully erosion, and were forced to travel to Abuja in search of a greener pasture. They are just another face in the sea of tens of millions of people who have migrated to Abuja in the past decade.
Emeka and his family share a squatter settlement with two other families in Jabi. As a daily laborer, his average monthly income is N30K, which probably places him just above the national poverty line. The rent costs him N17K per month. His utilities cost N5K a month, and this excludes food and other living expenses. Emeka faces eviction on a regular basis, a reality for over 50% of people across Nigeria, who currently live in informal settlements.
As the country’s population expands, so does its housing crisis. Currently, 5 out of 10 households dwell in conditions that are not permanent. Across the country, there are over 4,000 informal settlements, or slums, home to approximately 15 million people—who form a majority of the urban workforce in Nigeria. Evidently, affordable urban housing is rapidly becoming a primary issue.
Land is a scarce resource in the country. This scarcity and lack of access to affordable housing compel many to spend over 50% of their total income on rent, despite already living on the national poverty line. The exorbitantly high housing costs leave little to spare for food and other basic amenities, adversely impacting the overall well being of the society and exposing families to a dire cycle of poverty.
Housing Policy AND Affordable Homes will take center stage during the 13th Abuja International Housing Show, an annual global event organized by Fesadeb Media Group. The focus on affordable housing recognizes its significance as a precondition for tackling inequalities, reducing poverty, and addressing climate change.
In Nigeria, if not quickly addressed, the housing concern may turn into a full-blown crisis. Every year, hundreds of thousands Nigerians migrate to Abuja and Lagos from around the country. In order to keep up with this fast-paced population growth, the demand for housing requires building approximately 300,000 new units annually. The housing deficit continues to grow astronomically, in the absence of adequate measures the deficit is projected to increase to 20 million units by 2021.

How to achieve your real estate goals in 2019

Every new year is another opportunity to review, re-strategise and re-launch. In order to achieve your real estate goals, you need to keep the ball constantly in front of you. The real estate investment landscape is constantly changing although it does not change as suddenly and dramatic as comparable investments such as stocks and shares.

Real estate investment is relatively stable and generally moves upwards in value over a long period of time. Nevertheless, it is imperative for you to plan and approach it systematically if you are an investor and you seek to make profit in a big way from it.

Before you begin planning for this year in earnest, I believe that you should review your real estate goals for 2018 and see how far or how close you are to achieving it, whether or not you achieve your goals. And what are the lessons that you could extract from your experience?

If you did not achieve your goal in the past year, don’t beat yourself down. There are lessons to be learnt from every failure however painful. If you achieved your goals for 2018, you can set your sight on achieving bigger ones this new year.

The key to success in any goal and in real estate investment is clarity. You need to state in very specific and measurable terms, the goals that you desire to achieve. Then spice your goals with a large dose of motivation by asking why you need to achieve those goals.

Are you interested in creating a steady cashflow that can support your current lifestyle? Are you thinking long term and considering the implication of investing in certain regions or industries? Is this your first property investment or you are an experienced property investor?

While we are all on the same journey, we are at different points on the journey. One thing that separates one person from another is knowledge. If you are new to real estate investment or you are venturing into an unfamiliar aspect of real estate investment, always start by bridging the gap between what you know and what you should know.

This does not require that you go back to school. However, what this often requires is that you associate with those with the knowledge who are willing to share with and mentor you. You will also have the opportunity to bounce ideas off them and seek guidance on your investment decisions.

A good goal should have a reasonable time frame for its achievement. Time is a very important element for success in real estate. Real estate investment is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time and patience to search for and find the ideal property, if you have the capital.

It takes time and effort to find the property and the funds to buy the property. When you desire to sell, it takes time to market the property,conduct several inspections and conclude negotiation.

There are good buying times and there are bad buying seasons depending on where you are in the investment journey. If you are a seller, you are hoping to sell when the prices of properties are high. If you are a purchaser you desire to buy when the prices are low.

One of the things that could accelerate the achievement of your real estate goals is to join a community of likeminded people. This could be in the form of co-operative society or investment club. These groups usually have a fixed monthly contribution that helps you to set aside a percentage of your income for investment. A group of investors can also leverage their number to buy properties at a discount. They could also develop the property together and save lots of money. In my opinion, one of the most important benefits of belonging to groups like this is the mutual support and encouragement the participants are likely to give to one another.

As you begin to put these building blocks in place, I think it is better to concentrate your effort by finding your preferred real estate investment niche.

We are all unique individuals and understanding our uniqueness should guide our investment decisions. Real estate investment is diverse and wide.

You should start by focusing on a specific niche that you are comfortable with.

There are investors that focus strictly on buying and holding vacant land until they sense the right time to sell. There are investors that focus on rental properties and still some others are focused on commercial properties. Determine your niche and concentrate your resources on that area.

source: Abiodun Doherty

Combatting Workforce Shrinkage Industry experts discuss the dwindling talent pool.

The talent pool for commercial real estate professionals is dwindling. How can the industry curb the tide and bring in more professionals, more diversity, and more young people?

During the CCIM Global Conference in October 2018, CCIM Institute gathered a panel representing the construction, development, and education sectors to discuss the shrinking workforce and how to combat it. The panel included Dionne Edwards, CCIM, (moderator), vice president of corporate real estate, SunTrust Bank; Collete English Dixon, executive director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, Roosevelt University; Jeff Lyon, CCIM, CCIM instructor and chairman & CEO of Kidder Mathews; and Brian Murray, CEO, Ryan Companies.

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Dionne Edwards, CCIM: NAIOP estimates that by 2025, the commercial real estate industry will be faced with a shortage of 15,000 to 25,000 qualified leaders without a significant number of younger leaders to replace them.

We know what the stats say about the shrinking workforce, but what are you seeing and how do you feel about the current talent pool?

Jeff Lyon, CCIM: I’ve got almost 800 total employees in the company, of which 380 are brokers, and there was a lull in getting young individuals into the brokerage business. We’ve had a resurgence of kids coming out of college that actually want to get in the business. But across the board in every one of our positions, it’s a real challenge finding talent.

Brian Murray: At Ryan Companies, it’s a very similar experience. We have 1,200 employees, and about 800 of them are construction, project managers, and superintendents. There’s an awful lot of competition in the marketplace for great talent, and we need to be able to differentiate ourselves to be able to attract and retain people with these talents in a marketplace where post-Great Recession, we lost a lot of people to the construction industry, and many of them went to other industries and never came back.

Collete English Dixon: As an industry, we have not done a very good job of creating a more transparent perspective of what are the skill sets, what are the opportunities, what are the roles that young people might aspire to do. I think it can go a long way to making a difference in building a strong pipeline.

Edwards to English Dixon: For a long time, you were an investment manager. Now you are an educator. How, if at all, has your view of the CRE workforce changed as you moved from investment manager into the education world?

English Dixon: It’s the same problem. It’s looking at how young people see a path and how we get them on it, how we keep them on it, and how we hire them once they get to the other side. I’ve also been able to see through a graduate program a little bit of bias in the industry’s viewpoint about what that entry-level talent looks like and expecting that it always looks like a 22-year-old right out of undergrad. There are a lot of people coming into the industry from other [ones]. They’re going to school to get the knowledge, yet it’s very hard for them to find a spot to stand in.

Lyon: We’ve been working with the universities up and down the [West] coast who have real estate programs or business programs and using [the students] as interns to get them to understand the wide range of options in our business. They hear about the brokers, they hear about the money that could be made, and they see everybody driving the cars and all the good stuff, but they don’t understand that it takes a long time to get there. Our business is very, very tough.

We have a program where we’ll bring in a runner for a year, and they have a mentor to learn the business, to learn what’s going on in the market. We need to reach out to the young people, show them the cross-section of our business and let them figure out where they want to go.

Edwards: What are you doing to attract and retain  top talent?

Murray: Our culture is probably the most overarching attraction for people into our business. At Ryan, we have an inverted pyramid where our employees are at the very top, and we take care of our employees, who in turn take care of our customers.

From a recruitment perspective, we go to 25 different diverse career fairs at different universities. We have really made a focus in the last two years on diversity and inclusion. From the construction side, we’re probably 90 percent men and 10 percent women. On the real estate management side, it’s probably 75 percent women, 25 percent men. In our architecture and engineering, it’s probably 50:50.

We have an emerging leaders program where every year we pick anywhere from 10 to 20 of our young, up-and-coming leaders and put them through a year-long program.

Edwards: Brian and Jeff, How do culture, location, and technology impact retention within your firms?

Lyon: Our company is successful today because of our culture. We’re a very entrepreneurial company [and] have a very broad base of ownership. One of the things that retains our people is that they’re able to be a partner in the company. We’ve doubled the size of our company in the last three-and-a-half years, and we’ve attracted some unbelievable talent because of our culture and who we are.

Murray: At Ryan, our chairman, Pat Ryan, who is a third-generation Ryan leader in the business, often says that culture trumps strategy every time or culture eats strategy for breakfast, and we truly believe that. We also have integrated real estate solutions from beginning to end in the life cycle of a building – from initial design to the real estate and asset management on the other end. [That’s] another part of our culture that is unique and differentiates us in the marketplace.

Edwards: Collete, what are you hearing from your students about how factors like culture and technology influence their application decisions?

English Dixon: I think culture is incredibly important. When you have a student body like we do that’s incredibly diverse by every slicing and dicing of socio-economic demographics data, the idea that they can join a firm where they can find a comfortable spot, it is a big discussion. Some megafirms hit the mark really well, some don’t. Some small firms hit the mark really well, some don’t. That information does get around.

Technology – I think the question is new talent’s comfort [level] that a firm is cutting edge with its technology – [using it] to provide the sort of resources and knowledge that’s necessary to be successful – but not to replace people.

Murray: The construction industry is the second-worst industry in productivity over the last 40 years. If you think about the impact of construction and the challenges that we face in recruiting talent, technology is an opportunity that our industry needs to advance significantly. There’s technology out there that can make our workplaces safer.

As an industry, we’re seeing a movement toward modularization and prefabrication, but we have a long way to go. We have to embrace that, and technology can be an enabler moving forward and can help us to improve the concerns that many young people see in entering the workforce.

A big part of the challenge in the construction industry is getting people to enter the trades. We need to expose youth at a much earlier age to see this as an opportunity and use technology to create a work environment where they feel like they can thrive in, but also be safe and not take a toll on their bodies.

Lyon: We’ve been hearing for so long that technology is going to get rid of the real estate broker. But it really boils down to data – information that we have about the marketplace. We haven’t figured out how technology is really going to impact us yet. Is there an Uber of real estate out there? Is there an Amazon of our business that’s going to disrupt everything? The business really hasn’t changed that much, but technology has helped us be better at what we do. You still have to know the market; you still have to know your product; you still have to know the people – and bringing those three things together is how we do transactions.

Edwards: The commercial real estate industry is still lagging on diversity. How are your companies dealing with this?

Murray: We started in an accelerated fashion on diversity inclusion two years ago. The first meeting, we brought in our 200 leaders throughout the company to a conference, and hired an acting group to do skits describing conversations every single one of us have had in the workforce, or at home, or at a cocktail party that border on [being] offensive – what do you say or how do you interact or how do you have a perspective about people that are different than you, whether it’s a different sex, race, or sexual orientation? Those skits opened up conversations to enable people to realize that we all come from different perspectives, and we need to understand where our starting point is. The ultimate goal in our journey is for our workforce to be far more diverse than it is today.

We have probably 8 percent people of color out of our entire 1,200 employees. We’ve had every employee do an unconscious bias training. Our senior leadership group has taken an intercultural competence test that enables us to understand where we are on the continuum of understanding different cultures to help us work together as we move forward.

We’ve just begun a new organizational structure where an executive leadership team will elevate a couple of senior women in our business to have a seat at the table that didn’t exist today. We have a women’s network where women across all different functions get together to talk about women in the workforce.

Lyon: I’ve got the brokerage [side of my] business, and it is predominantly white males across the board. I look at my property management group, I’d say that 50 percent are women. It’s a real challenge to diversify in our industry. That’s one of the reasons we are going to the universities – because you go to universities and you look at the classrooms, and there’s a lot of diversity.

English Dixon: You need to start in the high schools that feed into the colleges to get some of this talent thinking about [the industry], and it means that you connect with diverse population high schools, diverse population universities. For a diverse employee base to be attracted to a firm, they’ve got to believe that the culture is accepting – it is not just diverse, it is inclusive. We tend to lump them together, but they’re very different.

Everybody in the industry who believes that diversity is important has an opportunity to help move the needle – it’s through young people we meet who are trying to figure out what they’re going to do. Let’s talk to them about the industry. Let’s consider mentoring some of them to pursue that. We’ve really got to build a house around real estate that looks hospitable and looks welcoming.

Edwards: What steps do you think educators can take to better prepare the next generation of commercial real estate pros?

Lyon: It’s easy to do internal rates of return and all the analytics and everything we learned in the CCIM courses. The biggest challenges are writing skills and communication skills. So many people get in the business and they don’t even know how to make a presentation, to make a pitch. In our business as a broker, you’ve got to be willing to make the call, and if they don’t have communication skills, they’re not going to make it.

Source: Catherine Simpson Olson

Forget the US and Asia, the top 5 countries for expats are in Europe and the Middle East

If you plan to embark on a new career move this year, you should try casting your eye to Europe or the Middle East. That’s according to a new report from HSBC, which found that the top five countries for expat workers were all outside North America and Asia.

Based on responses from 22,318 expats working in 163 countries, the report measured those destinations deemed best for international workers along a series of metrics — such as work/life balance, earnings prospects and career development. It found that select nations in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region scored most highly.

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Strong salaries, positive work cultures, job security and personal fulfillment opportunities all enabled the region to jump forward in the bank’s annual list and gain the top spots. Notable expat destinations in Asia and North America — such as the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong — also made gains this year and appeared in the top 10. But Singapore saw a drop this year, missing out on the top five to take its place among the final 10.

To determine the results, survey participants were asked to rate the experience of their new work location according to eight career-focused questions. Their responses were then converted into an overall country rating and compared to last year’s study. External factors, such as the economic and political climate, were not directly taken into account but may have influenced respondents’ ratings.

John Goddard, head of HSBC Expat, the offshore banking arm of HSBC Group, said the ranking could provide inspiration for those looking to boost their careers with a move overseas.

“The new year can often be a catalyst for considering where you are and where you want to be, particularly when it comes to your career,” he said. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’ but if you’re looking for career inspiration, it may be worth going beyond the borders of your home country to find the place where you can thrive at work.”

Here’s a look at the top five countries for experts in 2019:

5. Switzerland

Panoramic photo of Chapel bridge and Reuss River in the city of Lucerne, Switzerland.

Appearing in fifth position in this year’s ranking was Switzerland.

A consistently strong destination for expat workers, the country scored especially well with regard to career progression. Almost two-thirds, or 62 percent of survey respondents, said the country offered a good environment for their professional development. Yet that did not come at the expense of their personal life, they said, with 63 percent claiming a better work/life balance there than in their home country.

Additionally, Switzerland scored highly for remuneration, with 76 percent of expats agreeing that their earnings prospects had improved since relocating, placing it just behind Bahrain in that metric.

 

4. United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Home to business hubs Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates held onto its position as the fourth most popular country for expat workers for the fourth year running.

With a well-established reputation among the expat community, the UAE is particularly renowned for its financial incentives. Ninety-five percent of expats in the UAE reported receiving benefits as part of their employment package — the highest level in the world — while almost three quarters (73 percent) said their earnings prospects were better than in their home country.

The country is also recognized for its inviting work culture, with half the respondents claiming the work culture was better there than in their home nation.

3. United Kingdom

Despite Brexit blues, the U.K. moved up six places this year to claim third place among the most desirable countries for expats.

Boasting good prospects for both professional and personal development, Britain gained points this year for offering a good work/life balance and strong salaries. The majority (58 percent) of foreign workers also said the working culture in the U.K. was better than in their home country.

Britain also scored highly with regard to education. More than two-fifths, or 43 percent, of foreign workers have a post graduate degree. Meanwhile, respondents ranked it as the best country in the world to learn new skills and the fourth best to climb the career ladder — just behind Hong Kong, the U.S. and Singapore.

2. Bahrain

Rising 10 places up the rankings this year was Bahrain, which won favor with expats thanks to its enviable remuneration packages.

An impressive 77 percent of foreign workers reported better earnings prospects in Bahrain than in their home country, up from 62 percent last year. Even more notable, though, were the additional relocation benefits expats typically received for making the move. Accommodation allowance (69 percent), airfare stipend (68 percent), and medical packages (64 percent) were among the perks most typically received.

Aside from an attractive remuneration package, life in Bahrain also looks good on the career development front. Relationships are important in the Middle Eastern island nation and more than half the respondents, or 59 percent, said learning to navigate those has made them a better leader.

1. Germany

Topping this year’s list was Germany, which moved up one place from 2018.

True to its reputation for efficiency, the European powerhouse was deemed a hub for career progression, with 65 percent describing it as productive. However, that needn’t come at the expense of personal life, according to respondents: 70 percent of foreign workers said that their work/life balance had improved since relocating to Germany.

Among the other benefits celebrated by expats in Germany were its working culture, which ranked second only to Sweden’s, and its level of job security. Thanks to a highly regulated labor market, almost three quarters of respondents reported improved job security in Germany versus their home country.

Source: David Jrg Engel/EyeEm

World Bank Projects 2.2% GDP Growth for Nigeria in 2019

Nigeria’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth will expand by 2.2 per cent in 2019, the World Bank said in its annual Global Economic Prospects published yesterday. This slightly upgrades the country’s projected growth rate from 2.1 per cent in June 2018.

According to the World Bank, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa would accelerate to 3.4 per cent in 2019, due to improved investment in large economies together with continued robust growth in non-resource intensive countries.
“Per capita growth is forecast to remain well below the long-term average in many countries, yielding little progress in poverty reduction.
“Growth in Nigeria is expected to rise to 2.2 per cent in 2019, assuming that oil production will recover and a slow improvement in private demand will constrain growth in the non-oil industrial sector.
“Angola is forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2019 as the oil sector recovers as new oil fields come on stream and as reforms bolster the business environment.
“South Africa is projected to accelerate modestly to a 1.3 per cent pace, amid constraints on domestic demand and limited government spending,” the bank said.
On the risk to the region’s growth, the World Bank stated that escalated trade tensions between the United States and China could impact negatively on the region.
“Faster than-expected normalisation of advanced-economy monetary policy could result in sharp reductions in capital inflows, higher financing costs and abrupt exchange-rate depreciation.
“Increased reliance on foreign currency borrowing has heightened refinancing and interest rate risk in debtor countries,” the noted.
It said domestic risks, in particular, remained elevated, that political uncertainty and a concurrent weakening of economic reforms could continue to weigh on the economic outlook in many countries.
“In countries like Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa holding elections in 2019, domestic political considerations could undermine the commitments needed to rein in fiscal deficits, especially where public debt levels are high and rising.
The bank downgraded global economic growth from 3 per cent in 2018 to 2.9 per cent in 2019 due to trade tensions, rising borrowing costs and persistent policy uncertainties.
Source: Udo Onyeka

 

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